Do you ever get an energy crash in the afternoon that leaves you feeling listless, sleepy, and maybe even cranky? You may be experiencing a caffeine crash. This is especially likely if you drink a lot of coffee or other caffeinated drinks in the morning. Here’s what you should know about what causes a caffeine crash and how you can avoid having one.
Caffeine: Is It Good or Bad?
For many of us ladies, a steaming cup of coffee really is “the best part of waking up.” And then, of course, there’s the ice-cold cup of soda we chug at lunchtime to get us through the day. But should we really be pumping our bodies full of caffeine? Is it wise to rely on caffeinated drinks for energy instead of getting our energy from healthier sources? Before we answer these questions, let’s dive into what caffeine is, how it affects our bodies, and how to avoid that unpleasant caffeine crash that so many of us feel in the afternoon.
Caffeine is the most popular stimulant in the world. It’s naturally found within the fruits, seeds, and leaves of some plants. Some of the most common sources of natural caffeine are tea leaves, coffee beans, and kola nuts. However, massive amounts of caffeine are produced synthetically. Synthetic caffeine is the type you’ll likely find in energy drinks, sodas, and some supplements (such as energy-boosting and weight loss products).
Some of the most popular caffeinated drinks include coffee, tea, and soda. They each have different amounts of caffeine per serving. Here’s a handy little caffeine chart to help you see the caffeine content of some of your favorite drinks. Keep in mind that these are estimates and aren’t exact numbers.
- 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength (1.9 oz): 230 mg caffeine
- Monster Energy (16 oz.): 160 mg caffeine
- Cup of coffee: 95 mg caffeine
- Red Bull (8.4 oz. regular or sugar-free): 80 mg caffeine
- Mountain Dew (12 oz. diet or regular): 54 mg caffeine
- Cup of brewed black tea: 47 mg caffeine
- Dr. Pepper (12 oz. diet or regular): 41 mg caffeine
- Pepsi (12 oz. diet or regular): 35-38 mg caffeine
- Cup of green tea: 28 mg caffeine
Caffeine is primarily recognized for its energizing effects, which is one reason it’s so popular. However, those who promote this stimulant forget to mention that it causes a caffeine crash as well. Additionally, too much of it can cause various unpleasant symptoms and can wreak havoc on our adrenal glands. But it’s not all bad, either. There are some times when drinking coffee or another caffeinated beverage can actually be helpful.
How Caffeine Can Help You
Caffeine is a complicated sort of villain because sometimes it’s not a villain at all. It’s sort of like the Jekyll and Hyde of the beverage world. Though consuming caffeine regularly can contribute to adrenal fatigue, caffeine withdrawal, poor sleep, anxiety, and changes in heart rate, it can also do a lot of really great things when consumed in moderation.
Here are a few of the health benefits a cup of joe or green tea can offer you:
- Improved cognitive function and alertness
- Decreased fatigue
- Increased energy levels
- Boosted metabolic rate
- Weight loss
- Reduce headaches
In addition to these benefits, studies also show that caffeine affects your performance positively by increasing focus and physical performance.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
With all of the benefits caffeine can offer, how much is too much? According to research, it appears that adults can safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day. However, caffeine affects different people in different ways, and you may find that your tolerance is much lower.
Too much caffeine can cause symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, irritability, and diarrhea. It can also cause increase thirst because it has a mild diuretic effect. In cases of extreme caffeine consumption (also known as caffeine overdose), it’s possible to develop life-threatening symptoms such as trouble breathing, irregular heartbeat, and convulsions. Yikes! Maybe you’d better think twice about doubling up on those energy drinks!
Understanding What Makes You Crash
Back-to-back lattes can make you feel like the Energizer Bunny … until the dreaded caffeine crash blindsides you. But wait a minute, caffeine is supposed to give you energy, right? Well, the answer to that question is a little bit tricky. While it’s true that caffeine intake does provide a temporary energy boost, it also causes a subsequent energy crash for most people.
Since it’s a stimulant, caffeine gets the central nervous system all fired up and increases blood flow. This is why you experience more energy and focus soon after drinking coffee or tea. These effects also have to do with the way caffeine affects adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is produced by your brain when you’re tired. Caffeine blocks adenosine, so you don’t feel tired after drinking caffeinated beverages. But once the caffeine metabolism occurs, your brain’s receptors are flooded with adenosine. This is what makes you want to crawl into bed (or under your desk) for a nap.
How To Avoid the Crash
If you don’t want to quit coffee or tea, there are other things you can do to avoid a caffeine crash. Give these suggestions a try and see if they work for you.
- Get adequate sleep at night. This may seem simplistic, but if you get enough sleep at night, you probably won’t need as much caffeine during the day. Getting an optimal night of sleep (between 7 and 9 hours) will also help you start your day with healthy adenosine levels (which can help avoid a caffeine crash later).
- Spread your coffee throughout the day. If you’re used to binge-drinking coffee all at once, try moderating your consumption and spreading it throughout the day. That way, you’re less likely to feel like your energy levels are riding a roller coaster.
- Don’t consume caffeine within 5 hours of bedtime. If you have the caffeine tap flowing all day long, it’s time to make a change. Cut yourself off at least 5 hours before bedtime so you can get the rest you need to feel less tired the next day.
Even if you’re an avid coffee drinker, you should be able to implement these lifestyle changes without feeling deprived. It’s just a matter of timing your intake better so you don’t get a huge caffeine dose all at once or at the wrong time of day.
Ways To Avoid Caffeine
If you’ve made it to this section, you’re serious about modifying your coffee drinking habits. You’re ready for the challenge of limiting or avoiding caffeine altogether. Congrats, girl! You’re making a decision that will boost your overall health in the long term. Here are some healthy ways to limit caffeine.
- Take supplements to cut back on cravings. You’re going to have some cravings when you first stop drinking caffeinated beverages, but you can minimize them with supplements. Hercrave from Mixhers is an all-natural supplement that you can add to your decaffeinated beverages to minimize your cravings.
- Decrease your caffeine consumption slowly. Quitting cold turkey will likely leave you with headaches, extreme tiredness, and other withdrawal symptoms.
- Check ingredients. Caffeine is added to many drinks and can even be found in some pain relievers. If your goal is to avoid it altogether, check ingredient labels carefully.
- Switch caffeinated tea for herbal versions. Herbal tea is a satisfying warm drink that you can consume to replace your normal caffeinated version.
- Try decaf. You can still enjoy the great taste of coffee without worrying about the effects of too much caffeine. Just opt for decaf. You won’t taste any difference.
- Try a new drink. Instead of drinking coffee, tea, or energy drinks that are known contributors to mid-day crashes, try Herpower. This supplement helps you stay focused and energized throughout the day without the pesky crash and helps reduce your dependency on caffeine.
Often, our bodies get overly tired because they’re missing out on the essential nutrients they need to stay vibrant and energetic. If you have to rely on caffeine to make it through the day, you may want to turn your focus to your diet. Consume plenty of nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and grains for optimal energy. If you feel like you need a little help getting the nutrition you need from your diet, try supplementing with a multivitamin product such as Hermulti.