Why Your Coffee Could Be Making You Tired

tired man with coffee

Is your coffee or caffeinated beverage of choice not providing the boost you expect and actually causing you to feel tired?

The New York Times spoke to medical experts about why caffeine can sometimes have the opposite effect on our bodies and energy levels.

Mark Stein, a professor from the University of Washington who studied the impact of caffeine on individuals with A.D.H.D., explains, "The paradox of caffeine is that in the short term, it helps with attention and alertness. It helps with some cognitive tasks, and it helps with energy levels. But the cumulative effect — or the long-term impact — has the opposite effect.”

Experts believe the issue could be related to the idea of “sleep pressure," which is the concept of how the body's biological clock builds up the urge to sleep as the day unfolds. Neuroscientist Dr. Seth Blackshaw tells the NYT that sleep pressure increases as the body's cells and tissue burn energy in the form of a molecule called adenosine triphosphate or ATP. When we exercise, study, perform a task or our job, cells produce a chemical called adenosine that causes the brain to feel sleepy.

The NYT explains further, "Chemically, caffeine looks similar enough to adenosine on the molecular level that it occupies those binding sites, preventing adenosine from binding to those brain receptors. As a result, caffeine works to temporarily suppress sleep pressure, making us feel more awake. Meanwhile, adenosine continues to build up in the body."

That post-coffee sleepy feeling can happen sooner than expected. “Once caffeine wears off, you get a very high level of sleep pressure, and you have to pay it back,” Dr. Blackshaw says, explaining the only way to relieve sleep pressure is to sleep.

Additionally, caffeine can also lead to blood sugar spikes and dehydration, which can also cause you to feel tired. 

The NYT experts suggest cutting back on your caffeine consumption or even going cold turkey for a few days if you are finding your coffee is causing you to feel sluggish or tired. The break will help your body clear out the caffeine in your system and then you can add it back into your routine in moderation.

Other expert-backed suggestions on how to give yourself an energy boost deal when caffeine is no longer working, include:

- Taking a short nap

- Exercise

- Getting outside and exposing yourself to natural light

The Doctors also recommend eating these 3 foods to give yourself a boost of energy when you are feeling tired.

More: When to Drink Coffee to Really Get That Caffeine Buzz

More: Coffee Could Reduce Your Risk for Liver Cancer!

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