Sleepy after coffee? Here’s the fix.

By Kristen Underwood — / Coffee Talk

Why do I feel sleepy after drinking coffee?

Picture this: It’s Monday morning, rain is falling, the horizon is dark and all you want to do is pull the covers up over your head and fall back into your dreams. Unfortunately, the weekend has come to an end. It’s time to trickle back into the work week and if you hit snooze one more time, you run the risk of being late. But wait, Monday’s hidden agenda has you asking yourself whether or not you actually need this job or if you can slip back into a deep sleep. Shit, the answer is yes. Time to get up. Anxious yet?

An image of a gray cat sleeping on a white bed.

Now picture this: You’ve got a steaming hot, rich cup of sunshine waiting for you in the next room. It’s called motivation for your first steps out of bed. It’s okay that you’re a little chilly coming out from under the covers, as this is sure to warm you up. Do you feel that? That’s what comfort feels like. That’s reassurance that you can get through the day with a little help. Coffee is but a dream, outside of your bed. 

These scenarios are easy to imagine as I’m sure we’ve all been through them. If you’re a habitual coffee drinker like myself, you’ve experienced them one too many Mondays in a row. But I bet you didn’t picture this…

You’ve been drinking coffee all day, and you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open. In fact, you’re ready to curl up and take a nap right on your desk. WHY?

Here’s why:

1. Adenosine will make you sleepy when the caffeine wears off.

Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that causes fatigue when you aren’t receiving enough to your brain. The caffeine in coffee blocks adenosine receptors in your brain from receiving it. While preventing your brain from receiving adenosine, your body is still producing the neurotransmitter. Because of this, once the caffeine wears off, you have a build-up of adenosine that comes over your body all at once making you sleepy.

2. Coffee makes you dehydrated.

A mason jar on a green table filled with water and ice.

Coffee is a diuretic. Therefore, you may have noticed peeing is your best friend when you consume a cup of Joe. Drinking coffee to keep you alert can quickly lead to a dehydrating cycle that actually makes you more tired. The cycle goes a little something like this:

  • When I sip, you sip, we sip and soon after, we have to use the bathroom.
  • When you go to the bathroom, your body is losing water.
  • Once your body loses water, your blood thickens.
  • Thicker blood moves slower through your arteries and veins, much like thick molasses takes the cake in a slow drip.
  • As a result of your blood slowing down, less oxygen is delivered to your body.
  • Less oxygen causes you to become sluggish and lazy.
  • When we feel sluggish and lazy, what better way to amp ourselves back up other than to reach for some more coffee? And the cycle begins again.

Try to consume a glass of water for every cup of coffee you consume. This will help to minimize the effects of sleepiness as it will keep you hydrated and even better, a better caffeinated trip.

3. If you're into sweet additives, you'll be the one falling into a deep sleep.

Two mugs of coffee on a table with whip cream and foam on top.

While you’re satisfying your sweet tooth, try thinking about that sugar crash that’s coming soon to a body near you. Your body, I’m talking about your body. Sugar is processed much more quickly than coffee and selfishly leaves you without energy after it’s used up by your body. If you like a little coffee with your sugar, you may actually be experiencing a sugar rush and crash rather than a caffeine-boost.

If you’re part of the rare breed that dozes off after your coffee and you’re looking for a quick fix, here’s some advice. If you’re not into black coffee and have a hard time getting yourself to hop on the h2O wagon, always keep your cup full and you’ll never reach “after-coffee.” After all, a yawn is a silent scream for coffee. 

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