Why can’t I sleep when I drink a lot of coffee?

In this short article, we will answer, “Why when I drink a lot of coffee I can’t sleep?”. Although we will also talk about the action of caffeine on sleep, we will list some tips on how to have a good night’s sleep and continue to drink coffee daily. In addition, we will discuss if caffeine is a good substitute for a sleepless night and if it’s possible to counteract the effect of caffeine.

Why can’t I sleep when I drink a lot of coffee?

You can’t sleep when you drink a lot of coffee because the caffeine present in coffee disrupts the quality and quantity of sleep.

With an effect of around 6 hours, your body will still be processing a cup of coffee you had in the morning until late afternoon, meaning when you increase your caffeine dose or consume it later, your sleep is negatively affected (1).

What is the action of caffeine on sleep?

Caffeine is most commonly known for its ability to increase wakefulness and attentiveness. This is due to its chemical structure, which resembles adenosine, a molecule that modulates the central nervous system.

Throughout the day, adenosine levels in the bloodstream and brain increase as you expend energy. As a result, adenosine concentration reaches a peak towards the end of the day, causing drowsiness.

This process occurs because adenosine binds to its receptors in the brain, signaling fatigue and sleepiness throughout the body.

Caffeine prevents adenosine from binding to its receptors, which delays the onset of tiredness and prolongs alertness. However, with continued coffee consumption, the liver metabolizes caffeine more quickly while adenosine accumulates.

It is as if caffeine “tricks” the brain: no matter how much adenosine we have accumulated, caffeine blocks the receptors, causing the sensation of sleep to stop momentarily.

However, keep in mind that when the stimulant effects of caffeine wear off, the extreme fatigue induced by the accumulated adenosine takes over. And you may fall into profound rebound drowsiness (1–4).

What to do to drink coffee and still ensure a good night’s sleep? 7 tips to keep drinking coffee without losing sleep.

For to drink coffee and still ensure a good night’s sleep, you’ll need to make some changes to your routine, taking into account some tips:

  • Stay tuned for the time.

Our bodies require a minimum amount of time to metabolize caffeine after consumption. To avoid disrupting your sleep, it’s recommended that you limit your intake of coffee (and other caffeine-rich beverages) to no later than 6 hours before bedtime.

  • Try to sleep at least eight hours a night.

These hours make the body perform all the necessary functions during the night, in addition to providing a well-deserved rest.

  • Choose the right pillow.

Models with adjustable heights are the most suitable, as they have three internal layers and allow for various height options. 

  • Take a warm bath.

Taking a warm bath helps to remove all the impurities from the body accumulated during the day, as well as helping to refresh and, above all, relax.

  • Eat light foods.

Avoid heavy meals before bedtime and, above all, foods that increase insulin levels (thus triggering metabolism). The larger the dinner, the worst sleep.

  • Try to sleep in dark environments.

Light at night harms biological cycles and hormone production, as melatonin production is interrupted in the light, causing a feeling of tiredness in the morning.

  • Avoid getting distracted by other activities while lying in bed.

For example, watching TV before bed can disrupt sleep by causing occasional awakenings due to noise and movement. The light emitted by screens also inhibits the production of melatonin, a hormone crucial for sleep architecture that depends on darkness. (3–6).

Is caffeine a good substitute for a night’s sleep?

Caffeine is not a good substitute for a night’s sleep. On the contrary, doing so can lead to a vicious cycle of caffeine addiction and further sleep deterioration, especially if you consume too much caffeine.

This cycle often begins when you feel tired from a lack of sleep and turn to coffee to help you wake up. However, excessive coffee consumption can worsen the following night’s sleep. In addition, as your caffeine intake increases, your liver will produce more enzymes to metabolize the caffeine, requiring you to consume even more to achieve the same effect. 

This can lead to a dangerous cycle of increasing caffeine intake and worsening sleep quality.

Over time, consistently poor sleep can increase the risk of various health issues, including cardiovascular diseases, headaches, dizziness, anxiety, irritability, and an elevated heart rate.

Unfortunately, the solution to this cycle doesn’t involve simply drinking another cup of coffee. Instead, it’s crucial to prioritize your sleep and gradually re-establish healthy sleep habits (7–9).

Is it possible to counteract the effect of caffeine? How?

It is not possible to completely counteract the effect of caffeine, however, it can be reduced with some behaviors. One way is to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and improve urination to eliminate caffeine more quickly.

You could also take a short nap or practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to help calm your mind and body. 

Finally, try switching to decaf or a non-caffeinated beverage altogether. Remember, it’s essential to listen to your body and not overdo it on caffeine in the first place (10.


In this short article, we answered, “Why when I drink a lot of coffee I can’t sleep?”. Although we also talked about the action of caffeine on sleep, we listed some tips on how to have a good night’s sleep and continue to drink coffee daily. In addition, we discussed if caffeine is a good substitute for a sleepless night and if it’s possible to counteract the effect of caffeine.


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3. Heckman MA, Weil J, Gonzalez de Mejia E. Caffeine (1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine) in foods: a comprehensive review on consumption, functionality, safety, and regulatory matters. J Food Sci. 2010 Apr;75(3):R77-87.

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6. Troy D. Healthy Sleep Habits]. Sleep Education. 

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9. 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 Med Rev. 2023 Jun 1;69:101764.

10. Ruxton CHS. The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks. Nutrition Bulletin. 2008;33(1):15–25.