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Caffeine Hangover & Crashes: What You Need to Know

woman sleeping on sofa near a cup of coffee

Two of the most common side effects of caffeine consumption are caffeine hangovers and crashes.

But what are caffeine hangovers and crashes, how do you recognize them, and how can you avoid them? Here, we highlighted everything that you need to know about these conditions, so you can have happier and more productive days!

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What Is a Caffeine Hangover?

While a caffeine hangover doesn’t physiologically have much in common with a hangover that comes from being drunk, the symptoms can be similar. Caffeine hangovers occur when your body is going through a withdrawal of caffeine.

Caffeine is an addictive substance, so when your body doesn’t get as much as it’s used to, it starts to go through withdrawal. This typically happens a day or two after your last caffeine consumption.

Caffeine hangovers aren’t fun, but the good news is that there are no long-term side effects. All you need is time to get over it!

a woman at work massaging her head
Image Credit: Olya Kobruseva, Pexels

Caffeine Hangover Symptoms

There are three common symptoms that come with a caffeine hangover:
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea

Headaches and lethargy are by far the most common symptoms, but occasionally, nausea and vomiting can result. However, it’s rare.

How to Avoid Caffeine Hangovers

The best way to avoid caffeine hangovers is to avoid large dosages of caffeine, but what else can you do? Here are two tips that can make caffeine hangovers a thing of the past.

Limit Caffeine Intake

The best way to prevent a caffeine hangover is to limit your overall caffeine intake. The less you consume, the less dependent your body will be on getting more.

While you can safely consume 400 mg of caffeine each day, if you can keep levels closer to 200 mg, you can avoid caffeine hangovers.

woman hands holding a cup of coffee
Image Credit: Brittney Burnett, Unsplash

Take Frequent Days Off

Your body needs a break from caffeine every once in a while; otherwise, it’ll build up a dependency. We recommend taking a break from caffeine 2 to 4 days a week. If caffeine is a daily part of your routine, it’s only a matter of time until you experience a caffeine hangover.

However, if you make caffeine something that you only consume every once in a while, when you need it, you shouldn’t have to worry about experiencing a caffeine hangover.

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What Is a Caffeine Crash?

Caffeine hangovers and caffeine crashes might sound similar, but they’re two completely different events. Caffeine hangovers typically occur a day or two after caffeine consumption, while caffeine crashes generally happen the same day that you consume caffeine. They occur when you consume caffeine in the morning, and as the caffeine in your body starts to wear off, you “crash” and can no longer focus or get any work done!

a woman sleeping on a laptop near a cup of coffee
Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels

Caffeine Crash Symptoms

Caffeine crashes are fairly common but are often misdiagnosed. Typically, you’ll feel extremely tired and won’t be able to concentrate, and there’s a good chance that you’ll end up being irritable. This is especially true if caffeine is masking other problems, like inadequate sleep. When the caffeine wears off, all the symptoms of any underlying conditions will start to shine right through!

These can include:
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability

How to Avoid Caffeine Crashes

Caffeine crashes can kill your productivity in the second half of your day, and they can make you feel miserable and unhappy. Fortunately, there are a few tips that can help make caffeine crashes a thing of the past.

Get Enough Sleep

One of the most common uses of caffeine is to hide poor sleep or not enough sleep. If you fix the underlying issue of inadequate sleep, you can dramatically decrease the likelihood of experiencing a caffeine crash.

Of course, fixing your sleep schedule can be easier said than done, so you might need to research sleep techniques to get the sleep that you need.

a woman sleeping on bed
Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels

Spread Out Caffeine Intake

Caffeine crashes occur when your body starts to dispel all the caffeine that you’ve consumed. It’s most common when you consume all your caffeine in the morning, so by the second half of the day, there’s no caffeine left in your system.

One way to help mitigate this is to spread out your caffeine consumption over a longer period. Instead of drinking all 3 cups of coffee in the morning, try drinking 2 in the morning and 1 at lunch.

This way, you’re not getting any extra caffeine, but you’re also not going from a large amount of caffeine in your system to none at all. Spreading out the intake helps ensure that you avoid a caffeine crash!

Limit Caffeine Intake

The more caffeine you consume, the harder the crash will be. While you can safely consume 400 mg of caffeine in a day, this raises the risk of you experiencing a caffeine crash.

If you can cut that consumption to 200 mg in a day, there’s not as much of a difference from no caffeine in your system compared to its maximum level.

a woman enjoying a cup of coffee
Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels

Eat Food

Food is nature’s way of giving you energy, which is exactly what caffeine does in your system. If you get energy from food, which lasts longer than caffeine energy, the chance of you experiencing a caffeine crash later in the day goes down.

Eat food with your caffeine and don’t skip lunch at work! This will keep your energy levels up and help you power through the second half of the day.

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Final Thoughts

Nobody wants to experience a caffeine hangover or crash, but if you’re not careful, you could be trudging through life experiencing both without even realizing it. Hopefully, now that you know what to look for, you can recognize when you’re experiencing either condition, and you can work to keep it from happening in the future!


Featured Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

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Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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