Why does coffee not wake me up anymore?

For the last few months, the morning pick-me-up has been letting me down. But I’m not ready to give up on coffee yet.

To be honest, I can’ garner the strength to kick-start my day without a strong cup of coffee seeping into my bloodstream. Even on vacation when I don’t need to solve complex problems, I still take coffee. But why does coffee not wake me up anymore? Is coffee getting weaker? According to modern science, here are the reasons why coffee doesn’t wake me up anymore.

I’ve hit my healthy limit

Is there such a thing as too much coffee? Although moderation is key in everything, does it apply to coffee too? Yes. Recently, we talked with my friends who take one cup of coffee to overcome the afternoon slumps and they are doing just fine. Since coffee should be drunk to feel more than normal, I may have reached a healthy limit. I find it hard to do basic tasks without coffee. Perhaps, this is the best time to reset my intake.

If I want to feel the effects of coffee again, I may have to completely purge caffeine for a few weeks. This is like resetting everything back to normal. But how much coffee is too much? Researchers from The Mayo Clinic recommend up to 4 cups of coffee a day. Anything more than this can trigger side effects like insomnia, headache, and nervousness.

It is estimated that it takes 2 weeks for adenosine receptors to go away. I expect to feel some mild withdrawal symptoms which may last up to day three. The last time I tried to reset my caffeine tolerance the symptoms were pretty typical. This included muscle fatigue, muscle soreness, and irritability. These symptoms were barely noticeable after a week.

Get me right - coffee withdrawal is not like detoxing from powerful drugs. It’s just a small pain in the butt.

When I lay off my coffee, I go for caffeine-free alternatives. I have tried some stimulating herbs but nothing can give the same stimulating effect and alertness that coffee will. However, some alternatives are better than others.

Take decaffeinated coffee

cup of coffee with grain on the side

When I want to keep my morning ritual, I take decaffeinated coffee. And because hot cocoa has a little caffeine, I try to avoid it at all costs. This is because anything with caffeine may extend the withdrawal symptoms.

Get up and out

As soon as I wake up, I walk outside. There’s something special about the morning air. Other times, I throw the fists in the air as soon as the alarm goes off. While this may sound a little cliché, there’s science behind it. When my body bursts into activity, then the brain kicks into high gear. This is because the surge in adrenaline gives a caffeine-like jolt.

You are getting too much caffeine elsewhere

There’s a growing body of evidence that shows energy drinks have hidden amounts of caffeine. To combat the problem, I have reduced the number of energy drinks I consume. I also realized that some drinks don’t advertise that they contain caffeine.

You are not sleeping enough

man sleeping while holding on a coffee

While drinking coffee keeps me alert, it doesn’t contain magical powers. When I don’t get enough sleep it doesn’t work for me. This is because no matter how many drinks I take, there’s so much the coffee can do for me. Last week, I went for two days without sleeping and then took two cups of coffee. Believe it or not, it didn’t work.

In a study conducted by The Harvard Medical School, the researchers found that taking caffeine before bed doesn’t affect the quality of sleep. However, people who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine should avoid taking coffee before bedtime.

Medications increase caffeine intolerance

Every time I use a stimulant, I don’t feel the effects of coffee. To fill the gap, I incorporate complex carbs and proteins in my diet.


While this may sound virtually impossible, genetics affect how coffee is absorbed into the body. Some of the factors that may influence tolerance include body mass index, age, and weight.

Caffeine tolerance makes some sluggish and groggy. Since caffeine works similar to adenosine, it perfectly fits into its receptors. This is why caffeine makes one alert and wide awake. Yet here is the thing; when there’s too much adenosine around, it further triggers wakefulness. When the brain senses something is amiss, then caffeine does not affect the body. The battle may seem harmful to the body, but it isn’t.

How to choose coffee that wakes you up the most

Every time I want maximum caffeine, I go for quick espresso shots. One ounce contains - 45 - 75 mg of caffeine. This is higher than drip coffee which contains 20 mg per ounce. In the past, I thought I should consume one ounce of coffee at a time but it’s much more. For example, a standard 12-ounce drip gives 240mg while two shots of espresso can give up to 150 mg of caffeine. When I’m so tired, I can go for a 20-ounce coffee which gives up to 400mg of caffeine. This brings us to the question, how do I choose my coffee? This has been a problem for many coffee drinkers.

Light or dark roast?

Some people believe that dark roast has more caffeine but this is not always the case. The truth is that light roast tends to have more caffeine because of the roasting process. As the beans roast, they expand and retain more caffeine.

The caffeine content depends on the strains of beans used and the method used to ground them. Plus, the water temperature will affect the force to extract the caffeine. This explains why cold brew is more refreshing compared to iced coffee. Of course, drip coffee doesn’t wake me up as much as a hot espresso drink. When I want to maximize my caffeine intake, I go for a double espresso.

Does cutting back on coffee work for me?

You can call me an addict but coffee is too good to give up. Some people say the best way to approach the issue is to add water. Although this will reduce caffeine intake, I don’t want watered-down coffee. Instead of taking one cup of coffee in the morning, I go for half a cup. I also recommend drinking coffee slowly to ensure it is absorbed into the bloodstream.