Why Doesn’t Coffee Wake Me Up?

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Millions of people around the world reach for their coffee in the morning, relying on caffeine’s effects to get them through the day. Caffeine is a popular stimulant found in coffee, energy drinks, sodas, and cocoa.

Caffeine is used by many people to wake them up. So it can be disappointing when coffee fails to perform as expected. If you find yourself in this situation, keep reading to learn why doesn’t coffee wake you up.

Why Doesn’t Coffee Wake Me Up?

Alarm clock at 7 am

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While the way caffeine works is fairly simple to understand, the reason it doesn’t work is often less clear. There are a number of reasons that can explain why coffee doesn’t make you feel awake. We have found out the most frequent reasons.

But there may also be less common and unknown reasons why it doesn’t work. For some people, caffeine may not fully work even after a “detox,” so sometimes there is no clear answer.

Here are some of the main reasons why coffee doesn’t work:


Dehydration is generally a chronic problem, but coffee is a diuretic and does not help with rehydration.

If you are dehydrated, coffee might not wake you up. It might be helpful to drink plenty of water before and after each cup of coffee because dehydration can make you sleepy.

Dehydration can also result in headaches and other long-term health problems, so it is important to drink plenty of water every day.


Although caffeine can interfere with adenosine receptors to prevent drowsiness, sometimes you are just too tired for caffeine to work. If you haven’t been sleeping well or are struggling with insomnia, caffeine may not help you at all.

If you are very tired and drink coffee, it may just enhance certain effects of caffeine, such as anxiety, without waking you up. Instead of depending on coffee to wake you up, find out what makes you a restless sleeper or insomniac.


Woman holding a cup of coffee

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Medications may slightly weaken the effects of caffeine, depending on what the medication is and what it is prescribed for. Some drugs affect the way the liver metabolizes caffeine, which may explain why your coffee doesn’t work. You might want to seek medical advice on whether it is safe to drink caffeine while taking your medications.

There’s a difference between being an occasional coffee drinker and a regular coffee drinker that can completely change the reason your coffee isn’t making you feel awake.

If You Drink Coffee Occasionally

If you are drinking coffee occasionally and you’re waiting forever for that caffeine boost, there are a few reasons why this might happen:

Caffeine Makes Me Tired

A few people feel more tired and sleepy from coffee and caffeine, which is the opposite of what you want when you want to wake up. If this is your first time drinking coffee or you did not have coffee for a long time and you feel exhausted afterward, you may be in the group where caffeine has the opposite effect.

If that’s the case, you may need to figure out if it’s the caffeine in general or the caffeine in the coffee.


If you’ve never had coffee before and don’t feel the caffeine, your body may be breaking down the caffeine quickly. A very fast metabolism reduces the effects of caffeine, so you may need to drink more or drink more slowly. For new and infrequent coffee drinkers with fast metabolisms, they may not feel the full effects of caffeine.

If You Drink Coffee Daily

If you drink several cups of coffee a day, there are a number of reasons why your coffee isn’t working:

Caffeine Tolerance

Caffeine tolerance is by far the main reason why coffee stops working, especially if you drink more than the FDA-recommended maximum limit of 400mg of caffeine a day.

This naturally occurs when you drink the same high amount of coffee every day until your body gets used to it, which makes you want to drink even more. If you think you can’t tolerate coffee anymore, it’s time to reduce your coffee consumption.

Changing the Coffee

French press coffee maker

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If you’ve switched coffee brands, that could also be why your coffee isn’t making you feel more awake. For example, if you were drinking a light roast coffee and switched to a dark roast, you won’t drink as much because lighter roasts contain more caffeine than darker roasts.

The quality of your favorite cup of Joe will also affect the caffeine content, especially if the coffee you switched to is of poor quality. You might want to go with a lighter roast or a different coffee brand if you no longer feel the morning wake-up effect.

Tips if Coffee Doesn’t Wake You Up

1. Sleep more

Sleeping in bed

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Probably the most overlooked tip, getting more sleep is extremely important for many reasons. It’s vital for brain function and overall health, but it may also be why your coffee wasn’t working before.

People with insomnia and sleep problems often get caught in a cycle of caffeine and sleeping pills, which is dangerous in the long run. If your sleep quality has deteriorated recently, try to find the cause before you pour yourself an extra cup of coffee.

2. Less Caffeine

Italian espresso based drinks

If coffee isn’t making you feel awake, the first thing you should do is reduce your caffeine intake. Completely eliminate sodas and energy drinks, which contain a lot of sugar and high amounts of caffeine.

Without the added sources of caffeine, your coffee should make you feel awake. If your only source of caffeine is coffee, you should reduce the amount you drink each day. For example, if you drink 4 shots of espresso or more a day, slowly lower the amount to 1 or 2 shots. This might help you feel the caffeine boost you need in the morning before you start your day.

3. Hydration

Cup of coffee and a glass of water

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Water is the most important thing for our bodies, so it’s important to drink plenty of it every day. Your coffee may not make you feel awake because it speeds up dehydration, so the best way to fight dehydration is with water.

If you are moderately active and exercise frequently, you may not be drinking enough water to maintain your daily activity level. Some medications may also be the cause of your dehydration, so check to see if caffeine is safe for you.

How Does Caffeine Work

Caffeine works by masquerading as an adenosine receptor, which causes drowsiness and fatigue. When adenosine binds to the receptor, brain activity slows down, and the body becomes tired and relaxed.

By preventing adenosine from binding to its receptors, caffeine prevents drowsiness and increases alertness. Caffeine can even increase adrenaline and the flight or fight response, which in turn can increase a person’s anxiety.

Final Thoughts

Why doesn’t coffee wake me up? After reading this article, you should know the primary reasons which can explain why coffee doesn’t make you feel awake.

Luckily, it does not have to stay this way. If you sleep longer, drink more water, and slowly reduce your caffeine intake, that will improve the chances for your Cup of Joe to perform as expected.

Featured Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels