Caffeine Crash: What It Is, What Causes It, and How to Prevent the Midday Slump
We all love our lattes. Our light roasts and our dark roasts. Our cappuccinos and mochas. There are so many delicious ways to drink coffee, but when is enough enough?
You’re probably familiar with the term “caffeine crash,” if not the experience of it. You know, the unbearable need to take a nap halfway through the day. It seems to hit at the most inconvenient times, too – right when the kids need to be picked up from school or right when you need to make a presentation to a big client.
If you’re tired of succumbing to the caffeine crash (no pun intended), then pay attention. We’re going to take a look at the biological processes going on under the hood and hopefully educate you on how to prevent the midday slump.
What Is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant commonly found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and certain medications. While it can provide a boost of energy and focus, overconsumption can lead to a caffeine crash, characterized by feelings of fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
What Causes a Caffeine Crash?
The cause of caffeine crashes is related to the way the body metabolizes caffeine. When you drink coffee, caffeine blocks the action of a neurotransmitter called adenosine, which normally builds up in the brain over the course of the day and promotes feelings of drowsiness. This allows for an increase in the levels of other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which are associated with alertness and energy. However, as the body metabolizes caffeine, adenosine levels begin to rise again, leading to a rebound effect of drowsiness and fatigue.
How to Prevent a Caffeine Crash
To prevent a caffeine crash, it’s important to consume caffeine in moderation. The recommended daily dose of caffeine is 400mg, which is roughly equivalent to four cups of brewed coffee. It is also important to be aware of other sources of caffeine that you may be consuming, such as chocolate, tea, and certain medications.
Additionally, timing is important when it comes to caffeine consumption. Avoiding caffeine consumption late in the day can help prevent insomnia and other sleep disturbances. Some experts recommend avoiding coffee for the first 90 minutes of the day. Eat breakfast, take a walk, or get ready for your day. This delay affects how the body processes adenosine and can leave you feeling more alert during the afternoon. It’s also a good idea to consume caffeine in smaller doses throughout the day rather than consuming it all at once.
Other strategies to prevent a caffeine crash include staying hydrated, eating a well-balanced diet, and getting regular exercise. These practices can help to support your overall health and well-being, which can make it easier to manage the effects of caffeine.
Does Coffee Have Other Negative Side Effects?
Not to put a damper on your coffee addiction, but if you’re describing your habits as an addiction, it might be time to cut back. Coffee can have other negative effects on the body outside of caffeine. Coffee can…
- Disrupt brain chemistry.
As noted above, coffee can change the way your brain produces and absorbs various neurotransmitters. If you’re already struggling with depression (an imbalance of serotonin, cortisol, or dopamine), then coffee can exacerbate your symptoms.
- Cause gut imbalances
Coffee is acidic, which can damage your gut microbiome. You’re probably well aware that coffee can increase your trips to the bathroom. It can also cause nausea and issues with your appetite.
- Increase heart rate and blood pressure
Coffee can be problematic for people with heart disease. Studies have shown that coffee and caffeine can increase people’s heart rates and blood pressure, which can pose problems when trying to take care of their health.
Have a Caffeine Problem? Talk with Five Journeys
In summary, caffeine crashes are caused by the way the body metabolizes caffeine and can be prevented by consuming caffeine in moderation, being aware of other sources of caffeine, timing the consumption correctly, staying hydrated, eating a well-balanced diet, and getting regular exercise. By being mindful of these factors, you can enjoy the benefits of caffeine without experiencing the negative effects of a caffeine crash.
Five Journeys takes a holistic approach to health in order to get you living your healthiest, most vibrant life. You might think that your fatigue and tiredness are related to your caffeine intake. While that might be true, it’s also possible that you have other things going on under the surface. Hormone imbalances. Gut issues. Stress and anxiety.
When you work with Five Journeys, we can pinpoint exactly what’s going on with your health so that we can treat it holistically and naturally. Take a look at our Functional Medicine services in Boston, Massachusetts for more information, or book a discovery call with us today.