Why does coffee help me sleep?

In this article, we will answer the question, “Why does coffee help me sleep?”, we discuss some potential benefits and drawbacks of using coffee to aid sleep, and what you should drink instead of coffee to help you sleep.

Why does coffee help me sleep?

Coffee helps you sleep because you are probably so tired and consuming so much coffee that your body cannot stay awake any longer, despite the caffeine.

In general terms, caffeine “lies” to your body, giving you the information that you are not tired, and when your body realizes it,, it is already too tired. This is one of the possible reasons coffee could make you fall asleep (1).

Why do I keep getting sleepy even after drinking coffee?

You keep getting sleepy even after drinking coffee due to the rebound effect from caffeine. 

Sometimes, you had a tiring day and still needed to do some tasks until later, such as work or studies, and resorted to using coffee to stay awake longer. However, instead of staying awake, you fall into a deep sleep. 

If this has happened to you, it is a red flag as you may be experiencing a rebound effect from caffeine, a molecule found in coffee and other foods such as chocolate, green tea, and cola beverages .

The best-known effects of caffeine are increased wakefulness and attentiveness. This occurs because it has a chemical structure similar to adenosine, a central nervous system modulator molecule . 

During the day, adenosine builds up in the bloodstream and brain as you expend energy. As a result, the concentration of adenosine peaks at the end of the day, making you sleepy. 

This process happens because adenosine binds to its receptors in the brain, which signals tiredness and sleepiness to the whole body.

Caffeine prevents adenosine from binding to its receptors, preventing your body from receiving the information that you are tired, thus prolonging the alert state.

However, with an increased caffeine consumption, the liver is able to metabolize caffeine faster, resulting in the accumulation of adenosine. Thus, the excitatory effect of caffeine wears off sooner and is replaced by extreme tiredness induced by accumulated adenosine.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or other sleep-related issues, you must speak with your healthcare provider or a sleep specialist. They can assist in identifying the root cause of your sleep problems and suggest suitable treatment options, which may involve lifestyle modifications, cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, or other interventions (1-6).

3 potential benefits and 3 drawbacks of using coffee to aid sleep:

Potential Benefits:

  • Coffee may help some people fall asleep faster by inducing feelings of relaxation and drowsiness.
  • Some studies suggest that coffee consumption may be associated with a lower risk of certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
  • Coffee may be an effective tool for maintaining alertness and performance in certain situations, such as during long periods of wakefulness or night shift work.

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Consuming coffee before bed can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle and make falling and staying asleep more difficult.
  • Caffeine can reduce the amount and quality of deep, restorative sleep that occurs during the night, leading to feelings of fatigue and decreasedcognitive function during the day.
  • Overconsumption of coffee can lead to other adverse affects on health,  such as increased heart rate, anxiety and digestive issues.

Remember that the effects of coffee vary from person to person, the amount consumed and the time of consumption. Thus, many of its effects are still controversial (5,7).

While coffee may have some potential benefits for aiding sleep in certain situations, it is generally recommended to avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon and evening and to prioritize other strategies for promoting healthy sleep habits, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing sleep environment.

What should you drink instead of coffee to help you sleep?

To help you sleep, you should drink other beverages than coffee. Here we show some of them:

Chamomile tea: It has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for insomnia and anxiety. Some studies have found that chamomile tea can improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. 

Tart cherry juice: It is a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Drinking tart cherry juice before bed may help improve sleep quality.

Passionflower tea: It has been used traditionally as a natural remedy for anxiety and yields short-term subjective sleep (8-10).


In this article, we answered the question, “Why does coffee help me sleep?”, we discussed some potential benefits and drawbacks of using coffee to aid sleep and what you should drink instead of coffee to help you sleep.


1. Reichert CF, Deboer T, Landolt HP. Adenosine, caffeine, and sleep–wake regulation: state of the science and perspectives. Journal of Sleep Research. 2022;31(4):e13597.  

2. Caffeine. National Library of Medicine. 

3. Research I of M (US) C on MN. Pharmacology of Caffeine. Caffeine for the Sustainment of Mental Task Performance: Formulations for Military Operations. National Academies Press (US); 2001.

4. Gardiner C, Weakley J, Burke LM, Roach GD, Sargent C, Maniar N, et al. The effect of caffeine on subsequent sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2023 Jun 1;69:101764.

5. Temple JL, Bernard C, Lipshultz SE, Czachor JD, Westphal JA, Mestre MA. The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review. Front Psychiatry. 2017 May 26;8:80. 

6. Sajadi-Ernazarova KR, Anderson J, Dhakal A, Hamilton RJ. Caffeine Withdrawal. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. 

7. Parry D, Iqbal S, Harrap I, Oeppen RS, Brennan P. Caffeine: benefits and drawbacks for technical performance. British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 2023 Apr 1;61(3):198–201.

8. Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr. 2012 Dec;51(8):909–16. 

9. Ngan A, Conduit R. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytother Res. 2011 Aug;25(8):1153–9. 

10. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Report. 2010 Nov 1;3(6):895–901. 

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