Why Coffee Doesn’t Wake You Up Anymore

Why Coffee Doesn’t Wake You Up Anymore

I usually start my day before sunrise. After I use the bathroom, I almost immediately go to the kitchen, flick the light switch up, and turn the coffee maker on. On weekends, I try to sleep in, but again, my mornings typically begin with a hot cup of coffee. It’s just one of those things that I look forward to as soon as I get in bed the night before.

If you’re curious, I take my coffee black, with half a teaspoon of muscovado sugar. So you know, as far as coffee goes, I expect it to kick things up into high gear.  Lately, I’ve noticed that there are days when it does its job of ~waking me up~ for work—but there are also times when it’s as if I haven’t had a drop even after finishing two full cups. What’s that about?

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ICYDK, the reason caffeine makes you feel more awake is because it stimulates the central nervous system. It improves your attention and alertness, short-term memory skills, and more. Some of you may have experienced an elevated heart rate and increase blood pressure. And can you believe that caffeine works if you really believe it will work?

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But it also has its limits. People think that if they drink an additional cup of coffee, it’ll wake them up or make them extra focused during work hours. That may be true until a certain point—and then it comes crashing down. Here’s why.

Why coffee stops working

You didn’t get enough sleep.

A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology gathered 276 participants and gave them cognitive tests; people were then randomly assigned to stay awake or sleep throughout the night. The following day, the subjects took the same tests and were given caffeine. They found that the caffeine helped when it came to simpler problems; but for the tests that required more cognitive work, people made mistakes. When you don’t get proper sleep, caffeine may boost your functioning, but only with the easy stuff. There’s also a chance the effects of caffeine will wear off faster if you’re tired.

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It has something to do with your genetics.

Yeah, ugh, so there’s also *this* factor to consider. In a study published in 2011, researchers found that some people carry a gene that makes them hyposensitive to caffeine. That means even if you drink a lot of coffee, you experience little to no effect. To give you an idea, when you drink coffee, it takes around 45 minutes to kick in. Once the caffeine molecules reach the brain, it binds to receptors paired with adenosine (a neurotransmitter that’s associated with sleep). Your genetics determine how your body’s adenosine receptors can effectively bind to caffeine. On top of that, genetics also play a role in how long you feel the effects of caffeine.

You’ve built a tolerance.

Basically, the more coffee you drink, the more your body gets used to it. You become less sensitive to the caffeine. To feel that same effect, people usually consume more. Btw, the recommended amount of coffee is 400 mg (or around four cups a day). Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much coffee. If you find yourself experiencing headaches or even sleep deprivation, you should probably take a break from caffeine. Gradually lower the amount you consume on a daily basis and see how your body responds.

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