Why Does Coffee Make Me Tired?
Hitting the midday slump, have you ever tossed back a fresh cup of drip coffee only to hear yourself yawn just a few minutes later? You’re not alone my friend, because I’ve experienced this heartbreak as well.
Though it’s known round the world as the go-to stimulant, why does coffee make me tired sometimes? Like most paradoxes, there is no simple response to this question.
One of the first things you should understand about coffee is that it affects everyone differently. For some people, they might as well be drinking a cup of hot water for all the stimulation (or lack thereof) that they feel.
Caffeine, the prized ingredient in coffee, works by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain, which are commonly associated with sensations of fatigue. This means that caffeine essentially tricks your mind to keep going, even when it should be taking for a rest.
Though scientists have yet to pinpoint exactly why caffeine has less of an effect on some individuals, they at least know where to look: in our genes. A study conducted on lab rats found that one or more recessive genes limit caffeine susceptibility.
Unfortunately, this experiment could not ethically be carried out on humans, what with cloning still outlawed and all, but it does give us some insight into how our own bodies are affected by caffeine. Whereas most people will feel the coffee kick, some will be as ignorant of the effects as Donald Trump is to reality.
However, genetics aren’t the only reason you may feel tired after drinking coffee. Your coffee yawns may be a result of an intense match of king of the hill going on in your body.
In case you were unsure about this, stimulating your mind into alertness with a drug when it should be at rest is not a natural bodily function. Though its effects are desirable, using caffeine creates a momentary imbalance in your brain.
If you take in a high dosage at regular intervals daily, you are never giving your mind the opportunity to have a natural rest. So what does your brain do? Exactly what you’d expect it to: fight back!
The more you block your adenosine receptors, the more your brain will create in an attempt to compensate. If you keep upping your caffeine intake, this back-and-forth rivalry will continue until you eventually develop a partial immunity or become dependent on caffeine, or both.
Your brain will have produced so many adenosine receptors that you’d have to maintain your ridiculously high caffeine intake just to function on a normal level.
Apart from the caffeine induced chemical reactions going on in your brain, there may be another, more behavioral, reason for your fatigue.
There is a fun little psychological concept called classical conditioning, which is basically just a method for programming specific behaviors on cue. This process isn’t the easiest thing to pull off, yet it can happen, and you can even do it to yourself.
Many people use self conditioning to change a behavior they don’t want, like smoking or unhealthy eating, but it can even happen unconsciously. To give an example, if you continuously eat M&Ms whenever you’re happy, randomly eating an M&M could make you feel happier.
Just about any emotional or behavioral reaction can be conditioned with just about any stimulus, including coffee. If you typically drink your coffee while relaxing, like breaking from work or lounging on the cafe terrasse, then you could condition your mind to feel relaxed whenever you drink coffee.
Although there is no simple answer to the question, “Why does coffee make me tired?” there are a couple things you can do to solve this problem:
Only drink coffee when you plan to be active.
Cut back when it stops working.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions!