Seventy percent of Americans drink at least one coffee a week; 62 percent have a cup daily. That means most of us are reaching for it! Whether you like the taste or not, you’re most likely hoping for a boost of energy. The greater majority of coffee drinkers take it caffeinated. But, coffee can actually make you tired for multiple reasons.
For one thing, caffeine doesn’t have a lasting impact. “At first, you get a boost from the caffeine,” said registered dietitian Keith-Thomas Ayoob. “Then there’s often a plunge in energy as the caffeine wears off and your blood sugar levels drop.”
The caffeine wearing off, plus the blood sugar drop, can impact your energy levels. Even a sugar-free drink like coffee can affect blood sugar. If you drink on an empty stomach, it can cause blood sugar control problems throughout the day. Experts suggest having it with fat and protein to ease its impact on blood sugar. You shouldn’t pair your coffee with a carb-heavy meal as that can compound the problem, and you shouldn’t use sugar or a high-carb sweetener. Taking it black is best!
A second reason drinking your coffee black might be better is that you may be impacted by tryptophan. The amino acid found in cream and milk can make you sleepy. That’s why drinking milk at bedtime helps some people sleep better. If you reach for a latte or cappuccino, the dairy could be the culprit of why you feel tired afterward!
Another reason coffee can make you tired is how it interacts with a specific amino acid in the brain. For most people, it binds with adenosine, an amino acid that plays a role in sleep, and blocks the receptors, so the drinker gets a boost. Other people instead get a rush of adenosine to the brain, which makes them immediately tired. If you have ever wondered why coffee doesn’t impact you like other people, that might be the cause!
Even if the coffee blocks adenosine from its receptors, it doesn’t stop the production of more adenosine. When the impact of the coffee wears off, which takes about forty-five minutes, you can be more tired than you were before you had your drink.
Coffee is a diuretic, meaning it can leave you dehydrated. Being dehydrated can leave you feeling tired. If you reach for a second cup of coffee to perk you up, you can make the problem worse. Therefore, drinking coffee alongside a glass of water might be one way to stop fatigue before it happens.
With this information, you should be able to drink coffee in a way that makes you less sleepy, more alert and avoid a crash in the future. By having it black and with food and water, you can reap the benefits without paying for them later!