Why is My Coffee not Giving Me Energy?

Energy drinks contain sugar and caffeine because the caffeine helps metabolize sugar giving one an instant feeling of alertness and access to chemical energy. Coffee has the same effect depending on the calories consumed alongside the beverage. But under specific conditions, neither coffee or energy drinks seem as potent.

Your coffee is not giving you energy because you have developed a high tolerance for caffeine and are immune to its effects, or the coffee has lost potency. It is also possible that you’re deprived of Vitamin D or REM sleep, both of which cause tiredness that cannot be chased away with coffee.

In this article, we will cover the possible reasons why coffee doesn’t seem to work in some cases. You will learn the details behind each circumstance and possible indicators that can help you assess if you’re in the same situation. You will also learn what you can do in each case to reclaim your energy. So, let’s get started with the reasons why your coffee isn’t providing you with the energy it previously used to.

High caffeine tolerance

If you have started drinking more coffee than your brain’s caffeine receptors can handle, you may not only be immune to caffeine’s alertness advantage but may actually start feeling sleepier upon consuming more caffeine. Caffeine creep happens when you start increasing your daily coffee intake by more than one cup within a year.

Someone who consumes three cups of coffee despite drinking one cup daily will start to experience caffeine creep. In contrast, someone who went from one cup daily to two after a year and three in the subsequent one is less likely to be numb to caffeine’s potency.

Low REM sleep

While caffeine is capable of stimulating one out of a state of low metabolic activity (i.e., morning laziness), it cannot compensate for poor REM reserves. REM sleep refers to a stage of sleep where we dream. It is best recognized by Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and is essential for our mental and emotional wellbeing. 

On average, you experience two to three hours of REM sleep in a day. In 8 hours of sleeping, two are spent in the REM stage. When you go to bed exhausted, you might end up in the REM stage immediately. That way, even four to five hours of sleeping will lead to a feeling of freshness.

However, if you have anxiety or a disturbing sleep environment, you may not reach two hours of REM sleep. In such instances, coffee will not be able to restore your energy levels. A short nap can help because you’re likely to fall into the REM state right away.

Dehydration loop

Dehydration’s symptoms include tiredness and feeling sleepy. Dehydration is also a side effect of consuming lots of coffee. Putting the two together, one can derive that despite being a stimulant, coffee can actually make you sleepy if consumed over a certain limit.

Usually, having more than one cup of coffee within four hours can create a hydration burden on your body. To offset that, you need to drink more water, not coffee. Many novice coffee drinkers end up consuming more coffee to get rid of the drowsiness caused by dehydration. Since coffee further dehydrates them, they end up even more tired. 

Soon enough, they’re wondering if they can drink a gallon of coffee. To break the dehydration loop, simply drink more water alongside oral suspension solutions that facilitate replenishment of vitamins and electrolytes. Liquid IV is a product that can facilitate rapid rehydration and offset the hydration burden caused by coffee.

Improperly stored coffee

Sometimes the fault truly is with one’s coffee, and improperly stored coffee can lose potency if the environment around the grounds is humid. Coffee grounds are stable enough to remain potent for months, but upon exposure to humid air and heat, they can end up losing potency.

If your coffee grounds haven’t been stored in an opaque container and in a dry place, you might be consuming sub-optimal coffee. To make sure the fault lies with the coffee grounds, you must order a cup of coffee from a cafe and see if the beverage still fails to stimulate you. If it does, then your caffeine tolerance has gone up, or you have the kind of fatigue that caffeine cannot combat. But if outside coffee works well, then you can try one of the following things:

  • Replace the coffee grounds – fresh grounds should be stored better to avoid having the same problem. Buying a smaller batch is advisable, so the odds of potency loss are smaller. 
  • Tamp the espresso properly – improperly tamping espresso can lead to an inconsistent beverage that might not be as caffeine-rich.
  • Clean the coffeemaker – your coffee machine might be clogged, which might affect the quality of your coffee brew.

Starvation mode

If you’re drinking coffee for energy but haven’t consumed enough calories, you’ll not feel much of a difference in energy. Caffeine will still affect your alertness and make you feel focused, but at the same time, you will feel lethargic. 

The best way to combat this is to have a small carb-rich meal before you have coffee or around the same time as you have coffee. Caffeine heats up your internal furnace, which is best aided by sugar and carbs. That’s why energy drinks like RedBull contain plenty of sugars.

Sugar crash

There’s also the other extreme to starvation mode. If you consume sugar alongside caffeine, you run the risk of getting a sugar crash. This happens when the beverage itself is sugary and contains empty calories. Frappuccinos and Spanish lattes are two coffee beverages that are notorious for causing sugar crashes. When you have food with coffee, make sure it contains healthy carbs instead.

Vitamin D deficiency

Finally, there is the possibility that you’re running low on Vitamin D. If you do not get enough sun, then you must try incorporating vitamin D supplements in your diet and see if your energy levels improve. Remember, coffee is only good enough for taking your internal metabolic operation to the next level. It cannot give you what you lack, though, so getting your nutrition right is important.

Final Thoughts

Caffeine creep and dehydration are the main causes of feeling tired despite consuming coffee. Drink plenty of water, change the coffee grounds, and make sure to eat healthily and get some sunlight. Above all, make sure you get the necessary REM sleep. If you do all of these, you will not have trouble with your coffee’s potency.

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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