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Why Doesn’t Coffee Wake Me Up?

If you are like millions of other people, the first thing you reach for in the morning is a cup of coffee to get the energy needed to get through the day.

Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant found in coffee as well as energy drinks, soda, and chocolate.

It’s not unusual for people to rely on their morning caffeine to wake them up, so it can be frustrating when your morning cup of coffee isn’t doing its job.

If you are drinking cup after cup of coffee, but you are still struggling to stay awake, you aren’t alone and there may be a number of reasons for coffee not keeping you awake.

Here is some brief information about the various reasons why coffee may not be working for you and some tips on how to get the most out of your coffee.

How Does Caffeine Work?

When the coffee gets into your system, the caffeine binds with the adenosine receptor; adenosine is a natural compound found in your brain and it’s one of the building blocks of RNA.

Adenosine is made in the brain and then connects to a receptor. Once the adenosine connects to the receptor it causes you to become drowsy, because it slows down the activity of nerve cells and blood vessels to dilate.

So, when you drink the coffee, the nerve cell that the adenosine binds to thinks that the caffeine is also an adenosine receptor, but the caffeine doesn’t slow down the activity of the cells.

In turn, the nerve cells begin moving quicker and the blood vessels constrict.

Caffeine also increases the firing of neurons and causes the pituitary gland to sense the activity and begin producing adrenaline.

Why Doesn’t My Coffee Wake Me Up?

Although the process of how caffeine works is a fairly simple process, it’s often not as clear why it doesn’t work.

There are a number of reasons to explain why your morning coffee isn’t waking you up. It’s also common for caffeine to stop working completely for some people, even after they detox from it.

Here are some of the most common reasons why coffee may not be waking you up:


Your body is made up of 60% water, and when there isn’t enough water in your body you become dehydrated. If you tend to drink more coffee than water, it may lead to dehydration.

Coffee is a diuretic, so the more coffee you drink the more fluid there will be removed from your body. If you are dehydrated it may cause exhaustion, so drinking coffee will not wake you up.

Instead, drink plenty of water, especially if you rely on several cups of coffee each day. Dehydration can cause headaches and a variety of other health problems, so it’s important to drink plenty of water.


Whether you previously got energetic after drinking coffee or you’ve never had coffee and don’t feel the caffeine effect, it may be because your body metabolizes coffee at a quicker rate.

Your metabolism fluctuates, which changes the way coffee/caffeine affects you. If you have a naturally fast metabolism, you may not feel the effect of caffeine as much as other people or you may not feel it at all.


If you are taking certain medications, such as Wellbutrin or Adderall, you may not feel the effects of the coffee.

Some medications, especially stimulants, affect the way your liver metabolizes coffee.

If you have recently started new medications, talk with your doctor about coffee consumption to make sure it’s safe to drink while on your medications.

High Levels of Caffeine

Energy drinks, soda, and sports drinks contain high levels of caffeine, which may be increasing your tolerance to caffeine.

To counteract this, consider reducing the number of energy drinks and sodas that you consume.

Remember to read the labels on all beverages that you consume to check the amount of caffeine they contain.


Although you drink coffee to wake you up, sometimes you may just be too exhausted for caffeine to work. If you struggle with insomnia or toss and turned all night, caffeine may not be any help.

If you continue to struggle with insomnia or not sleeping well, it’s important to investigate why you may not be sleeping.

So, basically, if you haven’t slept well in a few days, your body is exhausted and your morning coffee will not wake you up.

Are You a Regular Coffee Drinker?

There are differences between someone who drinks coffee regularly and someone who only occasionally drinks coffee and this may completely change the reasons why your morning coffee isn’t waking you up.

Some of the reasons why coffee may not be waking you up if you are a multiple cups a day coffee drinker include:

Tolerance to Caffeine

If you regularly drink several cups of coffee a day, especially if it’s more than five cups per day, you may have developed a caffeine tolerance.

Tolerance happens because when you drink several cups a day your body becomes accustomed to it, which makes you want to drink more.

If your tolerance may be the problem, you should consider cutting back a few cups each day.

Switching Coffee Brand or Roast

If you have recently switched the brand or the roast of your coffee, it may be the reason why your coffee isn’t waking you up.

For example, if you typically drink light roast, but switched to dark roast there may be a difference in volume and density of the caffeine; lightweight will give you more of a caffeine effect.

Low-quality coffee brands may also be higher in volume, which will have an effect on how the caffeine affects you.

If you continue to have problems with coffee making you sleepy instead of waking you up, there are a few things you can do to help wake up.

The first step is to lower your usual amount of coffee consumption and cut out energy drinks and sodas altogether.

The reduction in caffeine may be just what you need to get your morning jolt. It’s also important to get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated.