Have you ever had a cup of coffee only to feel like your eyelids are about to close an hour later?
Caffeine is supposed to keep you awake, right?
Technically, yes. Caffeine is a stimulant and it increases alertness and boost energy levels throughout the body. If the caffeine in the cup of coffee you just drank could talk when your eyes start to droop, it would probably say something along the lines of:
“It’s not me, it’s you”.
We’re going to look at how caffeine affects your body and why some people feel sleepy after drinking it. After all, many people rely on caffeine to get them through the day or night and feeling like you want to take a nap after a cup of coffee isn’t exactly a desired feeling.
Caffeine and your body
When ingested, caffeine goes straight to your central nervous system, heart, muscles, and finally the brain. When it hits the brain, it causes it to release a chemical called dopamine. The extra dopamine in your system is why you feel good shortly after drinking a cup of coffee.
As the caffeine works its way through your system, your heart beats faster and delivers more oxygen to your muscles. This is why many athletes use caffeine before the game. It conditions your body to respond faster to threats, perceived or not.
Your metabolism increases due to your muscles needing a source of fuel in order to react quickly. This is why some diet pills include caffeine as the main ingredient. Used in moderation, it can help some people lose weight.
Caffeine and your brain
Once it reaches your brain, it releases two chemicals called norepinephrine and epinephrine. These two chemicals set off a chain reaction of events in your body. The end result being quicker thinking, improved coordination, and increased alertness.
Once caffeine has your brain operating at maximum capacity, it’s going to require more fuel to operate. This means more blood sugar and glucose will be produced in order to feed the fuel demands of your brain.
Same drug, different reactions
Not everyone reacts the same way when they ingest caffeine. Some people get heart palpations and it makes them feel like they’re having a heart attack (when they’re not). There are several reasons why you could feel sleepy after drinking a cup of Kona coffee, espresso or other caffeinated beverage:
In real life “tolerance” is a good thing. When it comes to caffeine, not so much. If you drink caffeinated drinks on a regular basis, you will eventually develop a tolerance to the drug. Yes, caffeine is a drug.
Some college students have reported the ability to drink a triple venti mocha at 11pm and be dead asleep by 12 midnight. In situations like this, they have an extreme tolerance for caffeine and the energetic/awake effects don’t hit them as hard
There’s something called “normalization”. After several hundred milligrams of caffeine over a 12-hour period, that extra cup of coffee just isn’t going to have the same effect as the first one. Your body is always trying to achieve a state of balance, and over time it starts to adjust to the extra levels of caffeine in your body and the overall effects start to zero out.
Livestrong.com put out an article that claims that the sleepy feeling you get after a couple of hours after consuming caffeine is most likely due to lack of sleep. It goes on to say that caffeine can “mask” drowsiness symptoms for a while, but eventually your mind, body, and central nervous system are going to crash. At this point in time, no amount of caffeine can cause your body to pull out of the sleepiness mode. The only way to reset the proverbial clock is to get some much needed sleep.
High-fat, high-carb, and high-sugary foods cause a neural response to happen once they hit the small intestine. It’s telling our mind/body to slow down and focus on digestion, instead of going out and seeking more food.
Coffee after a big meal like this may provide little relief to some people. The neural response is just too great and your body wants to slow down and rest.
Feeling tired or sleepy after drinking caffeine can happen to anyone. It’s not the fault of caffeine, as it’s trying to do its job as a stimulant. The reason for the lethargic feeling after drinking a cup of coffee or espresso can be due to one of several things going on in your body.Whether it’s lack of sleep, a huge calorie-laden mean, or just a high-tolerance – feeling drowsy after drinking caffeine is a sign that your body is telling you to slow down. Don’t fight it, don’t try to power through. Give your body the rest it’s requiring and after a few you’ll be ready to begin your daily caffeine intake all over again!