This article has been written and medically reviewed by Dr. Darshan Shingala (M.D, MPH) – a qualified and practicing medical doctor – for maximum factual accuracy and reliability.
If you’ve consumed too much caffeine then you might be wondering what to do so that you can get to sleep quickly.
The most effective ways to remove caffeine from your system for better sleep are to drink water, take activated charcoal, and supplement with L-theanine to help flush the caffeine from your system and reduce the effects of overstimulation and anxiety.
In the rest of this article, I have used my knowledge as a practicing medical doctor to give you 5 detailed strategies for getting caffeine out of your system faster.
Related: click here to find out how long caffeine stays in your system.
5 Ways to Get Caffeine Out of Your System
Here are 5 techniques for getting caffeine out of your system:
1: Take Activated Charcoal to Bind to the Caffeine and Remove It
Taking activated charcoal is one of the best ways to get caffeine out of your system quickly.
Activated charcoal tablets are available over the counter at any local pharmacy, without a prescription from a doctor – or you can buy them online.
Activated charcoal has a porous texture with microscopic holes and does not get absorbed in the gut, so after you swallow it, it remains in an unchanged form.
Due to these characteristic features, activated charcoal has the ability to bind to any toxins through absorption, and subsequently eliminate the trapped toxin through the stool, instead of letting it get absorbed into the system.
Therefore, activated charcoal can bind the caffeine molecules, which might help in diminishing the excessive serum caffeine levels via the enterohepatic circulation, and help you to get caffeine out of your system quickly.
A few case reports suggest that administration of activated charcoal in cases of severe caffeine overdose proved to be life-saving [4, 5].
However, self-medication and self-treatment are not recommended, and if you suspect a serious overdose, you should seek urgent medical assistance.
Also note that activated charcoal will bind to any toxins in the digestive system, including medications, so if you are on medication for a chronic illness, do not take activated charcoal without consulting your doctor.
Click here for 15 ways to sleep better after drinking too much coffee.
2: Drink Water to Flush Out the Caffeine
Adequate hydration can substantially support the process of caffeine elimination from your body.
If you are dealing with a mild caffeine overdose, then oral hydration will suffice, in most cases.
You might want to hydrate yourself by drinking water, to aid in the detoxification process.
There is limited scientific evidence, but some studies show that when you drink enough water, your body can flush the caffeine out of your system much faster, in comparison to how it would metabolize otherwise .
As a rule, if your urine is pale or light yellow in color, this is a good indicator of a well-hydrated body.
Hydration therapy can also be beneficial in diluting some of the adverse effects associated with too much caffeine consumption.
This includes the inability to fall asleep, and difficulty remaining asleep for long hours.
If you have severe caffeine toxicity, then I would strongly advise you to seek medical help for the intravenous administration of hydration fluids.
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3: Stop Consuming Caffeine
Caffeine consumption tends to reduce sleepiness by boosting mental alertness and enhancing our overall energy levels.
Since caffeine is a stimulant, its consumption affects our sleep patterns by preventing the action of adenosine, which is a neuromodulator in the central nervous system (CNS).
Adenosine causes drowsiness by slowing down neural activity, dilating blood vessels, and facilitating sleep.
Caffeine acts as an antagonist to the adenosine receptors in the neural membrane, which means that when caffeine binds to adenosine receptors in the brain, it blocks adenosine from doing its job .
In other words, if you are dealing with excessive caffeine ingestion, and you continue to consume more caffeine, it would be extremely challenging for you to fall asleep.
Thus, you must make sure that you strictly stop consuming any more caffeine, right away.
Click here to find out if Tylenol can cause insomnia.
4: Wait for the Caffeine to Clear Naturally
If your caffeine consumption is not accompanied by any serious side effects, then perhaps the best way to get caffeine out of your system would be to wait and let the caffeine naturally flush itself out of your system.
The reason behind this approach is that according to the medical literature, it seems that once you have consumed caffeine, it can be rather challenging to get it out of your system.
So in the absence of any clinically dangerous symptoms, it is recommended that you wait for a few hours for the effects of the caffeine to wear off.
Engage in Relaxation Strategies
In the meantime, you can prepare yourself for going to sleep by indulging in some sleep-inducing activities, such as creating a calm environment in your bedroom.
In order to relax yourself, you can dim the lights, maintain a cool room temperature, play soothing background music of your choice, and light some scented candles.
I would also suggest that you consider doing meditation for a few minutes, as caffeine tends to make one anxious and jittery.
I usually tell my patients to limit their screen time a few hours prior to going to sleep.
Instead, you can consider reading a book, or listening to an audiobook – whichever is preferable for you.
Some studies show that deep breathing exercises or guided yoga can also help in facilitating sleep, by inducing feelings of calmness and centering the mind.
Although it is considered safe to wait for a few hours, in clinically mild cases, for the effects of caffeine to pass, it is still important to be self-aware, and not wait for too long – especially if any symptoms persist, worsen, or reappear.
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5: Watch Out for Symptoms of an Overdose
If you are concerned about having too much caffeine in your system, and you are experiencing any adverse symptoms – such as heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fainting spells, convulsions, nausea, and vomiting – then you may be at risk of severe caffeine toxicity.
Caffeine toxicity, also known as caffeine overdose, is a serious medical condition, and it can be dangerous to your health.
Caffeine toxicity can lead to unstable vital signs, seizures, alteration of the senses, hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, hyponatremia, and hyperglycemia.
It can also lead to electrocardiogram abnormalities, including tachycardia, ST-segment depressions, T-wave inversions, arrhythmias, and imminent cardiac arrest.
I strongly suggest that you seek urgent medical attention if you exhibit any symptoms of caffeine overdose.
As soon as you arrive at your nearest health care facility, the physician is likely to evaluate your condition, and depending on the severity of your caffeine intoxication, they may advise you on several treatment options.
If your condition is clinically severe or life-threatening due to caffeine ingestion, you may be advised to undergo hemodialysis.
Studies show that hemodialysis can be an effective medical procedure, which can be performed during the management of caffeine toxicity.
Since caffeine has a small molecular size of 194 units, a low protein binding of 36%, and a relatively small volume of distribution of about 0.6 to 0.8 L/kg, it is an ideal compound to be dialyzed.
If you are experiencing any cardiac events, such as an imminent cardiac arrest, which is a serious adverse event associated with a caffeine overdose, your physician may want to promptly initiate intra-lipid therapy.
This can help to scavenge the free caffeine molecules in the blood serum and could yield clinically beneficial outcomes if administered in a timely manner.
If your caffeine overdose has led to a rapid increase in your heart rate, also known as tachycardia, then a beta-blocker drug, such as esmolol, could be helpful for you.
Sometimes, excessive caffeine intake can also cause dysrhythmias, which are caused by interference with the normal sequence of electrical impulses in your heart.
Drugs like procainamide, lidocaine, or bicarbonate can be helpful for the management of dysrhythmias.
If too much caffeine consumption has affected your blood pressure, then vasopressors, such as vasopressin or phenylephrine, can be helpful in achieving a mean arterial pressure greater than 65 mm Hg, without worsening your tachycardia [8, 9].
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If you are trying to get caffeine out of your system so you can sleep, the first step would be to ensure that you strictly stop consuming any more caffeine, right away.
Once you have consumed caffeine, it can be quite challenging to get it out of your system instantly.
However, there are several measures you can take to manage your condition in a better way.
For instance, you can consider hydration therapy, which can be administered either orally or intravenously, to facilitate the process of flushing out caffeine from your system.
You could also consider taking activated charcoal tablets, which are easily available over the counter at any local pharmacy, to help bind the caffeine molecules, and diminish the excessive serum caffeine levels via the enterohepatic circulation.
In minor cases which are not accompanied by any serious side effects, perhaps the best way to get caffeine out of your system would be to wait it out, and let the caffeine naturally flush itself out of your system.
In the meantime, it would be a good idea to indulge in sleep-inducing activities, such as creating a calm environment in the bedroom, dimming the lights, and maintaining a cool room temperature.
Other helpful practices include playing soothing background music, doing meditation to reduce anxiety, and performing deep breathing exercises to facilitate sleep, by inducing feelings of calmness and centering the mind.
On average, the half-life of caffeine is about 5 hours, but you can calculate how long it takes for the caffeine to be removed from your body by assessing how much caffeine is in your beverages, and when you had them last.
You can also consider taking a caffeine test to evaluate if you still have any caffeine left in your system before you go to bed.
In general, it is recommended that you try to limit your daily caffeine intake, including the caffeine consumed from sources other than coffee, such as teas, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, and health supplements.
Lastly, you must be vigilant and seek urgent medical attention if you exhibit any adverse symptoms associated with caffeine overdose.
Up next: 7 ways to get to sleep after napping too much.
1. Murray A, Traylor J. Caffeine Toxicity. [Updated 2021 Jun 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532910/
2. Evans J, Richards JR, Battisti AS. Caffeine. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; December 4, 2021.
3. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. Caffeine for the Sustainment of Mental Task Performance: Formulations for Military Operations. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001. 2, Pharmacology of Caffeine. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK223808/
4. Silberman J, Galuska MA, Taylor A. Activated Charcoal. [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482294/
5. Bioh G, Gallagher MM, Prasad U. Survival of a highly toxic dose of caffeine. BMJ Case Rep. 2013;2013:bcr2012007454. Published 2013 Feb 8. doi:10.1136/bcr-2012-007454
6. Fenske, M.. (2006). Caffeine Determination in Human Saliva and Urine by TLC and Ultraviolet Absorption Densitometry. Chromatographia. 65. 233-238. 10.1365/s10337-006-0141-2.
7. Walther H, Banditt P, Köhler E. Aussagefähigkeit von Coffeinwerten in Serum, Speichel und Urin–Ermittlung von pharmakokinetischen Daten durch non-invasive Methoden bei psychopharmakologischen Untersuchungen [Significance of caffeine values in serum, saliva and urine–determination of pharmacokinetic data by non-invasive methods in psychopharmacologic studies]. Pharmacopsychiatria. 1983;16(5):166-170. doi:10.1055/s-2007-1019492
8. Kerrigan S, Lindsey T. Fatal caffeine overdose: two case reports. Forensic Sci Int. 2005;153(1):67-69. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2005.04.016
9. Meester S, Hogrefe C. Consider Going Decaf: An Intentional Caffeine Overdose in the Emergency Department. J Emerg Med. 2020;59(5):e163-e165. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2020.09.024
No part of this website offers medical advice – seek medical attention if you feel unwell.
Image Attribution and Licensing
Main image: ‘Woman feeling headache and sitting on the bed’ by leungchopan (used with permission and commercially licensed through Envato Elements).
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several college and university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, art, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews as well as articles on sleep, health, wellbeing, and home decor.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia, anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.