Maybe you’re considering an afternoon double-shot latte or a midnight red-eye espresso. But how long will the caffeine in that drink last — and will you be able to sleep later? If you’ve ever had too much coffee and experienced symptoms like jitters or insomnia, you’ll want to learn about this.
We’ll give you answers to all of your burning questions about caffeine!
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a naturally-occurring stimulant found in a variety of plants like coffee beans, cacao (chocolate), kola nuts (used in soda), and tea leaves. These plants developed caffeine as protection against being eaten by animals — but many humans have developed a taste for it!
How soon do you feel the effects of caffeine?
Most people will feel caffeine effects like improved focus, more energy, increased alertness, and better mood within 15 to 45 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee. This is when the caffeine is strongest in your bloodstream. After that, your body starts to metabolize the caffeine, breaking it down.
How long does caffeine last?
So how long does the caffeine stay in your body? Caffeine has a half-life of five hours. That means that if you drink a standard 95-milligram cup of black coffee, you’ll still have 47.5 milligrams of caffeine in your blood five hours later. After that, your body continues to break down the caffeine, but you’ll still have traces left for hours.
Is it different for different people?
Your experience of caffeine depends on a lot of things, like your weight, what you’ve eaten, your innate caffeine sensitivity, and your caffeine tolerance. If you drink coffee a lot, you can build up a strong tolerance, which means you wouldn’t feel the effects of caffeine as much.
So when should you drink coffee?
Many people drink coffee to wake up in the morning, but it may surprise you to learn that the optimal time is early afternoon! The afternoon is when many people experience a drop in alertness, so you may want to skip the nap and grab a coffee instead.
If you have trouble sleeping, you’ll probably want to keep your coffee drinking earlier. Remember that half-life? Five hours is a long time, and if you start drinking caffeine in the afternoon, you’ll still have at least half of it around bedtime.
The Bottom Line
Caffeine kicks in around half an hour after you drink a cup of coffee, and it lasts many hours after that. After about five hours, your body has metabolized half of the caffeine. The caffeine sticks around — in increasingly smaller amounts — for many hours.