Last week a friend asked me if coffee wakes me up still. We had some time without seeing each other, and she knew that I drank coffee mindlessly—mainly when I was an undergrad and working long hours.
I've been there, trying to wake up earlier than everyone else, but coffee doesn't wake me up. That's why I know how it feels. Even drinking a couple of mugs of coffee does little to no effect at all on these occasions. But don't panic. There are some reasons for this, and it might be a sign that you need to make a few changes to your lifestyle.
In any case, asking a medical doctor for advice is a good idea. A trained health expert can make further tests to learn more about your case and provide you with sound advice.
Now, without further ado, let's get to know the reasons why coffee doesn't wake you up sometimes.
We can build tolerance against most drugs, and caffeine isn't the exception. Caffeine is a type of drug that tricks brain receptors to block the natural sleep signal. Adenosine regulates the sleep cycle, letting our brain know when it's time to rest. Caffeine works its magic by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain. Many stimulants do the same, as they resemble adenosine shape and can fit into adenosine receptors.
After ingesting caffeine for a long time, the body builds tolerance against it. Basically, substance tolerance is the body getting used to the drug, so the substance eventually loses its power. To reduce caffeine tolerance, the only solution is to reduce consumption. Most of the time, this means cutting down all types of caffeine sources, not only coffee. Surprisingly, many people drink a lot of caffeine from other products like energy drinks, tea, sodas, and dietary supplements.
So, if you're using fat-loss supplements, energy drinks, or you're used to having your burger with a soda, that might be the answer. If you want to get the full benefits of a cup of coffee again, you'll need to reduce your caffeine intake from all sources for a while.
We are like coffee in terms of water volume. We are mostly made of water, and drinking fewer liquids than needed takes a significant toll on our performance. Sure, coffee intake can count as hydration, but it's safer and healthier to drink water and fruit-based beverages without added sugars.
In the past, it has happened to me that I start to feel tired, although I haven't made any significant physical effort. Then, I realize that I haven't taken a sip of water for hours. I keep a jug of water next to my desk every morning after drinking coffee to avoid this mistake. Having a water bottle close helps to keep hydrated, as we can easily forget to stay hydrated.
It isn't any secret that processed sugars are harmful to our health. And, the only thing worse than eating sugary foods is abusing them! Usually, sugar creates a rush of energy in our bodies, making us feel alert and energetic. However, after consuming high amounts of sugar continuously, the body eventually starts to suffer. Particularly the pancreas, which processes the sugars to break them and transform them into energy.
A sedentary lifestyle with low energy consumption leads the body to take in more sugars than it needs. A high sugar intake results in a wide range of health problems like obesity and diabetes. Naturally, such issues don't arise overnight, so it isn't strange to encounter low energy levels when eating a poorly balanced diet.
You're too tired
Physical and mental work has an impact on our energy levels. We aren't like a video game character with an energy bar reducing linearly, but we have limited resources to deal with our daily challenges.
Bear in mind that coffee only stimulates our brain to stay alert. It doesn't provide resting nor calories to keep the machine going. Bad eating habits, lack of physical activity, and poor sleep stop us from replenishing our energy.
Caffeine can't work its magic if you aren't sleeping well. We have all been there. When we're trying to cram the last few lessons in the final hours before the exam, but coffee can't keep working after using it excessively for too long. So, if coffee isn't waking you up, it might be that you need to stop and get some proper sleep or eat a healthy meal to recover.
Low caffeine brewing method
All coffee drinks don't have the same amount of caffeine. Even using the same quantity of coffee, grind size, water temperature, and brewing method makes a difference. For this reason, a mug of drip coffee can feel weaker than the same amount of coffee brewed with a French press.
I don't want to get overly technical here, but if you're going to get the most out of your coffee, in terms of caffeine, you'll need to aim for:
- Finer coffee grounds
- Boiling water
- Coffee grounds in contact with hot water for longer
- Stirring coffee and hot water before filtering
These actions make for a more potent brew, which won't taste great but will make the meanest cup of coffee without an espresso machine. In contrast, drip coffee tends to take less caffeine out from coffee grounds, particularly if they're coarse.
Change in coffee blends
If you watched the World Barista Championship 2021, you already noticed that Eugenioides broke through. However, the most popular coffee species are still Arabica and Robusta.
Some blends have a fair amount of Robusta content, the coffee species with the highest caffeine content known. Sometimes, you get used to a highly caffeinated blend with some Robusta, or you get used to instant coffee, which tends to have plenty of Robusta in it.
If you want to get the full caffeine boost, it might be a good idea to cut on caffeine sources and lower coffee consumption for a few weeks.
If you're healthy, eat well, and work out every day, your metabolism goes faster than when you're sedentary. It's good to have a fast metabolism because it helps burn fat and results in good health.
Our body reads caffeine as a toxin, so it gets rid of it through our sweat and urine. A fast metabolism tends to process caffeine quicker, meaning it stays in the body for less time.
Conclusion: what's wrong then?
After reading this article, I hope you opened your eyes to better ways to take advantage of coffee without abusing it. I am sure that coffee can be part of a healthy diet and not necessarily related to nasty habits like tobacco and sugary foods.
Remember that using coffee to boost your physical and mental performance is a good habit, only if you take it with a balanced diet and proper resting. I know because coffee can wake me up at 5:20 without any problem when I care for myself.