If you live in a metropolitan area, chances are you can’t drive five blocks without seeing one or more coffee houses luring you in with that tempting aroma. Drive throughs are packed, and there’s at least one grumpy customer causing a fuss about needing that coveted beverage this morning. Like…right now.
There’s no arguing that coffee is America's go-to for morning energy or afternoon boost. It’s a staple in most households as one part of a morning routine that’s sure to get you going for the day.
Did you know that coffee is the most common psychoactive substance in the world1
So why do you end up needing a nap at around 2 in the afternoon? Why is it that even after 2 or 3 cups, you still can’t seem to snap out of that brain fog that’s weighing you down?
As it turns out, coffee might in fact be having the opposite desired effect - and the more you drink, the more sleepy you’ll get.
Why Is Your Coffee Making You More Tired?
Tolerance & Dependence
The most obvious reason behind coffee fatigue is the tendency to create a dependence on caffeine and the subsequent build up of a tolerance for caffeine. When you're constantly giving your body a crutch to lean on, you give it the excuse it needs to not carry out its proper functions. Adding to that, the continuous assault of high doses of coffee caffeine can have a negative effect regarding your psychological and physical dependence on caffeine in general. In simple terms, the more coffee you drink, the more you need it to quell your symptoms2.
But the nagging headache you get when you don’t have your daily coffee isn’t only a marker that your dependence on caffeine is increasing. Caffeine dependence and tolerance go hand in hand. When the effects of caffeine start to decrease over time, caffeine tolerance becomes more and more evident. Your body doesn’t respond to coffee as well as it used to, and at one point, you’ll need to increase your dosage to experience the same effects (like staving off sleepiness and a poor ability to concentrate). As your tolerance grows, your dependence grows3.
Adenosine is a hormone in your central nervous system that runs all day long, and eventually leads to drowsiness at bedtime. This helps you sleep well at night. After you go to bed and fall asleep, your adenosine levels experience a dramatic drop.
The caffeine found in coffee acts as a block for the adenosine receptors in your cells. However, your body is still producing adenosine. That means that there's a huge dose of this hormone, dressed to impress and ready to mingle, but with nowhere to go. Once the coffee wears off, a wash of adenosine binds to your receptors causing sleepiness. This is what’s happening inside your body when you experience that mid-afternoon energy crash.
A coffee habit can also affect your circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep-wake cycle. Studies link a high intake of caffeine to struggles with falling asleep. In particular they showed that higher amounts of caffeine consumed on a regular basis increased the amount of time it took for individuals to fall asleep, and can decrease total sleeping time4.
Another factor that contributes to caffeine fatigue is that many people substitute a cup of coffee for sleep. Think about those early mornings when you just can’t keep your eyes open, but you have to be at work in time for a morning meeting. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? A cup of coffee will give me a perk.
Driving late into the night to some far-away destination? Let me stop for a cup of coffee to keep my eyes focused on the road.
Sure that coffee boost will give you that jolt you’re looking for. But the end result (due to the un-bonded adenosine in your system combined with lack of sleep) is an intense crash. Not only is your body chemistry off, but the added factor of reduced sleep compounds the impact of the impending caffeine crash.
The amount of time caffeine stays in your system varies from 1.5 to 9 hours5. When you substitute coffee for sleep, even if you only intend to stave off sleepiness for a short while, you could end up interrupting your sleep cycle in a large capacity and therefore, your overall sleep hygiene.
Anxiety and Cortisol Levels
In addition to blocking adenosine from binding to its receptors, caffeine also triggers the release of your flight-or-flight hormone, adrenaline. High doses of caffeine can cause more pronounced effects of your adrenaline release. This is known as caffeine-induced anxiety disorder6. Even modest doses consumed in one sitting leads to an increase in stress levels and induces rapid breathing7.
An unnecessary increase in your anxiety and stress levels can do a number on your cortisol levels. One of the many signs associated with high cortisol levels is extreme fatigue8.
How to Avoid a Caffeine Crash
So where can you find the energy you need to stay focused and productive without throwing off your whole body chemistry? You’ll be glad to discover that there is a magical solution to the problem.
Our favorite way to start our day is with the magical power of matcha powder. This is the purest source of gentle energy that works with your body to provide that boost you’re looking for. The difference you’ll experience when you switch your coffee with matcha green tea is the way your body reacts to the caffeine found in high quality matcha.
OWL’s Matcha Powder is certified organic and contains only 36 mg of caffeine per serving. Matcha offers clean energy that doesn’t cause that jittery feeling you experience with a cup of coffee. In fact, matcha encourages your body into a state of relaxation.
You’ll benefit more from matcha through the improvement of brain function and enhanced focus, clearing away any brain fog you experience in the mornings. Matcha gives you a slower stream of energy that is steady and lasts longer than coffee. As it wears off, it does so slowly and gently as to eliminate that mid-afternoon crash you might have come accustomed to.
Even better, matcha contributes to your overall health in other ways, such as improved immunity, reduced inflammation (which improves your skin health), and detoxifying your body of harsh chemicals.
The choice is as pure and simple as the clean energy of organic Matcha Powder. Feeling clear headed and fully charged all day long is not an impossibility for you anymore. Care for your body, give matcha a try, and experience the difference for yourself.
- Dietary caffeine, performance and mood: enhancing and restorative effects after controlling for withdrawal reversal - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Anxiety sensitivity and expectation of arousal differentially affect the respiratory response to caffeine - PubMed (nih.gov)
- An update on the mechanisms of the psychostimulant effects of caffeine - PubMed (nih.gov)
Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.
Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?
Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.
"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.
When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing