Why Does Coffee Make Some People Tired?
As most of you will know, the active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a natural stimulant that influences our brain chemistry in several ways. On one hand, caffeine binds to the dopamine receptors in the brain, giving you energy and also making some people jittery. On the other hand, caffeine also blocks the adenosine receptors in the brain, which are the receptors responsible for making you sleepy. This way, coffee can both energize and make you resistant to falling asleep.
Both of these effects occur after the caffeine has been absorbed into the bloodstream. According to medical research, "caffeine absorption is nearly complete within 45 minutes after ingestion, with caffeine blood levels peaking after 15 minutes to 2 hours." During this time, a person feels the positive effects of coffee, such as increased alertness, concentration, and a boost of energy.
However, both of these effects are not permanent, and our liver soon starts metabolizing (breaking down) the caffeine molecules in order to cleanse the body, as it does with any other substance. How quickly that will happen depends on many things, such as whether or not you smoke, what medications you take, and even your genetic makeup.
As a matter of fact, a recent Harvard study has shown that there are 6 distinct genetic variants that predict how much you will enjoy the taste of coffee and even how fast or slowly your liver metabolizes coffee. Those who metabolize coffee fast will feel its effects almost instantly, but it will not last as long, and vice versa, slow metabolizers will feel a steadier and longer effect of caffeine that lasts for hours.
Generally speaking, after 2.5-4.5 hours, the amount of caffeine in your body will be cut down by half, or reach its half-life state, scientifically speaking. By this time, the effects of caffeine will start wearing off, especially in those individuals who break down coffee faster, and some people may actually start feeling more tired or even drowsy. Why this happens is simple. Remember, we mentioned that caffeine prevents adenosine receptors from receiving adenosine?
While that is true, caffeine doesn’t stop the natural production of adenosine in the brain, and it builds up in higher quantities than normal. Once the effects of caffeine start wearing off, all the adenosine is activated, and this can lead to tiredness, especially in those who metabolize coffee faster. Therefore, if you’re someone who feels tired after drinking coffee, this may be due to your genetics, or because you take certain medications. That said, there are things you can do to reduce those effects. Below are a few tips that will help you feel less tired after drinking coffee.
How to Feel Less Tired After Drinking Coffee
If you really like your coffee and its effect, no matter how short-term it may be for you, there are several things you can do to reduce how tired coffee makes you. After all, coffee isn't just about caffeine, and it has many health benefits. But let's get straight to the point and share the much-needed advice.
Firstly, you can take a short nap to normalize the levels of adenosine in the brain, or, you guessed it, you can have another cup of coffee or tea 2-3 hours after you had the first cup. Do keep in mind to limit the overall amount of caffeine you consume daily to 400 mg a day, though, as higher amounts have been linked to cardiovascular and other health issues. This is equal to about 4 cups of coffee or 5-6 cups of black tea.
In addition to that, experts point out that the sugar, syrup, and whipped cream in a coffee drink can make you tired, too, as added sugar causes sugar spikes that can make you tired about 1.5 hours after drinking sweetened coffee. So, it’s best to stick to unsweetened black coffee or coffee with milk or cream for added sweetness and creaminess.
After all, a good variety of coffee should be naturally sweet, and if the kind you typically buy isn’t, try purchasing a lighter roast that will typically be less bitter and much sweeter in itself, so that's some extra advice to consider, too.
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