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Why Doesn't Coffee Wake Me Up?

March 24, 2021 5 min read 1 Comment

Why Doesn't Coffee Wake Me Up

Even after you've had your third cup, you have trouble staying awake. What's REALLY going on here?

It has been said that "humanity runs on coffee,” but for some of us, there can never be enough coffee to function at all, let alone stay awake. If you’re drinking coffee after coffee and you're still dozing off, it might mean more than having immunity to caffeine.

Coffee has many positive and healthy properties, from burning fat to lowering the risk of getting type-2 diabetes, maintaining a healthy liver, lowering cholesterol, and so much more. But why does that cuppa joe make some people drowsy? 

You need your "get up and go," but instead, you feel like "laying down and napping." Let's explore the reasons why your morning cup makes you sleepy!

Does Coffee Wake You Up – Or Do You Feel Sleepy After Coffee? 

Many people simply cannot make it through the day without their morning coffee. Some set the pot to brew as an aromatic alarm clock, and others spend time ordering a specialty version of that flavorful favorite at their local coffee shop. However you get your brew in, it has been the staple drink for prying all those tired eyes open every morning.

Strangely, for some people, that same cup of coffee doesn't wake them up at all. If you are one of those caffeine-immune coffee lovers, you may be asking, "Why does coffee make me tired?" The reasons vary, but the science is there to help you understand your fatigued frappuccino dilemma. 

For Those Who Wake Up From the First Sip of Coffee

The reason behind that initial waking snap comes from the adenosine receptors' job within the brain. Adenosine is a compound that naturally occurs in the brain and makes up a part of a person's RNA; this is the messenger that creates adenosine and connects it to a receptor.

Once the brain has fully connected the adenosine to one of the receptors, it brings about a sense of sleepiness because it slows down the nerves' cell activities, forcing blood vessels to dilate. This is usually the part where you reach for a coffee from your pour-over coffee maker to get your “get up and go” back.

As the coffee enters a person's system, the caffeine joins with the adenosine receptor. It does that because caffeine resembles an adenosine receptor, but caffeine won't slow down that cell's activity since it isn't technically adenosine.

As this happens, those nerve cells are firing much faster, and the blood vessels are constricting. Your pituitary gland will notice all this crazy activity going on and give you a nice healthy dose of adrenaline – your fight or flight chemical response.

We know a little bit about why your morning cup of coffee wakes you up. Now let's explore why you say to yourself, "coffee makes me sleepy." Breaking down the science behind why coffee doesn't wake you up is easier than you might think. 

So get a gooseneck kettle and pour yourself a fresh cup, stay awake, and we'll get to the bottom of it!

Why Does Coffee Make Me Sleepy?

There are many reasons why cup after cup, you keep wondering why you’re still sleepy. Here are some reasons why this could be happening:


People are affected by their tolerance towards coffee. As the body gets used to dose after dose of caffeine, it will not have the same waking effect as it did before.


Dehydration may be a factor if you drink more coffee than water. Coffee is a diuretic, and that means that more fluid is removed from the body than needed. So skip at least one cup of coffee for 8 glasses of water to get your fluid levels back to normal!


If you’re drinking coffee with sugar, you could be experiencing a “sugar crash.” This happens when your blood sugar spikes when the sugar floods the blood and is used up. 


Your ability to fall asleep with enough caffeine in your system to power a jet may be hereditary. Every person has a caffeine metabolizer. However, there are particular gene traits where you just aren’t as sensitive to caffeine. It won't matter if you drink a cup or a gallon, the coffee will not give you the same boost.

You’re just too tired!

Another reason why you could be saying, "caffeine makes me tired," is because you need rest, and not more coffee! Those who overwork, stay up late to finish a project, or suffer insomnia may feel that coffee makes them even more tired. They’ve probably reached the threshold where no amount of coffee will keep them going. They need a nap instead of a cup.

The type of coffee

Trying new coffee brands could play a part in how effective your coffee is in jumpstarting your day. If you find yourself saying, "caffeine doesn't affect me anymore!" it could be because you’ve switched to a coffee with a lower caffeine brand. For example, a high-caffeine coffee bean like Robusta will be more effective than an Arabica.

How the coffee is made

Changing the way you make your coffee also plays a big role in how it may or may not wake you up. If espresso is your morning ritual and you decide to try filtered coffee, it won’t quite have the same kick!

Are There Alternatives to Coffee?

Even if your mantra is “But coffee doesn't work for me!”, we have some alternative suggestions to help you keep your eyes open. They might not be as flavorful, but they can be just as effective.

  • Get yourself an alarm clock! The term "alarm clock" can sound off some warning bells. Don’t worry, it’s not what you think! Our suggestion is a light alarm clock. This is a silent version that will gently wake you with gradually increasing light that mimics sunlight rather than noisily jolting you out of bed.
  • Studies have shown that eating an apple or chewing gum sometimes has a more effective waking power – even over coffee. Eating an apple gives you a wakeful fructose boost, and chewing gum can increase blood flow to the brain and stimulate the nervous system, which increases alertness. 
  • If your mantra of late has been "caffeine puts me to sleep," or “coffee makes me tired,” then perhaps it's time to switch up your coffee for water as your drink of choice. Water with lemon is a great way to wake up the taste buds with a refreshing and tantalizing treat.
  • Or you could try some energy-boosting teas, like matcha. This is a natural energy tea that contains a specific amino acid that gives you an alert and enhanced way of functioning. 
  • Yoga isn't just for leggings. It can be a great way to stimulate the system and wake up the entire body. The different positions and breathing together are designed to ease your body into a state of wakefulness.

Can Coffee Make You Tired? 

If you've needed three cups of coffee just to get to this part of the article, then you’re either bored with my writing, or you fall into the category of people who can't stay awake with caffeine! With so many reasons listed as to why caffeine won't work, you have plenty of options to be just as functional as the coffee fiend beside you. 

So, instead of saying, “Why doesn’t coffee wake me up?” all the time, put down your cup of coffee and grab a yoga mat, or a bottle of water, or even some chewing gum, knowing you'll be back to your best alert version in no time!

Care to learn more? Check out if coffee before workout is good for you!

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1 Response


October 11, 2021

Excellent article very insightful

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