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How to Sleep After Drinking Coffee (15 Ways)

Stephanie-Abi-Zeid.
  • This article has been written, researched, and medically reviewed by Stephanie Abi Zeid (Embryologist, Andrologist, B.S, MSc) for maximum factual accuracy and to ensure unique content.

I’m a big fan of coffee.

It helps me get more done during my work-day and allows me to perform better in the gym.

But it can also keep me awake if I drink too much of it or consume it too close to bed time.

So how can you get to sleep after drinking coffee?

The best ways to get to sleep after drinking coffee include light exercise to burn off extra energy, taking a warm bath to relax the body, meditating, and listening to music. Taking an anti-caffeine (rutaecarpine) pill can break down the caffeine faster but rutaecarpine may be harmful long-term to the liver.

The rest of this article provides 15 detailed ways to help you get to sleep after consuming too much coffee.

Related: try these 6 ways to sleep better after drinking an energy drink.

15 Ways to Sleep After Drinking Coffee

Here are 15 ways that you can try to sleep better after drinking coffee.

1: Create a Sleep-Friendly Bedroom to Combat Overstimulation

Create a peaceful sleep environment in your bedroom to help unwind your body and mind and combat the mental stimulation caused by caffeine.

From my experience, it’s harder to sleep in a noisy room and when street lights flicker through the curtains – this can be especially irritating when you have drunk too much coffee because you are already over-stimulated.

To combat this, I use a pair of noise-canceling headphones to mute background sounds and an eye mask to block any external light.

If you’re a light sleeper like me, your bedroom needs to be silent, calm, and dimly lit.

Check out these 19 ways to make your bedroom pitch black for better sleep.

But in case you cannot sleep in total silence, then use a calming white noise machine, a fan, or an app that emits consistent sounds like ocean waves.

Click here to find out if it’s safe to sleep in Airpods.

2: Exercise a Few Hours Before Sleep to Burn Off Energy

If you’ve drunk a lot of coffee, consider doing low-impact exercises, e.g., swim a few laps and do stretches to burn off some of that energy.

One of the most widespread and effective exercises to improve sleep quality is yoga.

I find that yoga decreases the onset of sleep latency, which helps to achieve a much sounder and deeper slumber.

However, aerobic exercises cause the body to release endorphins, which can increase your state of wakefulness and alertness.

That’s why experts suggest people avoid exercise close to bedtime.

But if you feel a lot of pent-up energy due to high caffeine intake, then take a walk in the evening to expend some of it and release the jitters.

Click here for 13 ways to sleep better when you feel restless.

3: Try the Corpse Position to Release Tension

How to do Corpse Pose | Savasana Tutorial with Briohny Smyth

The corpse pose is usually practiced towards the end of a yoga session.

To execute the pose, lie on your back, bring your arms alongside your body, and separate your legs – as shown in the video above.

Now close your eyes and feel the weight of your body sink into your cozy mattress while breathing in deep and slow.

Although it seems like you’re just lying there, the corpse position is designed to help the body release tension and produce serotonin—the neurotransmitter that aids relaxation and sleep.

So, just relax and let your brain and body take it from there.

Click here to see my #1 top-rated mattress that allows you to sink into it and feel super comfy.

4: Drink Two Cups of Water for Every Cup of Coffee

Caffeine in coffee is a diuretic, which contributes to sleep disturbance due to multiple visits to the bathroom throughout the night.

It increases blood flow through the kidneys, which flush out extra water and sodium through your urine.

Caffeine also directly impacts your bladder by irritating its tissues, which causes an involuntary contraction that increases the urge to urinate.

I find that coffee affects my hydration levels differently in the short term and long term.

In the short term, I feel the urge to pee a lot, hence the need to drink more water to make up for coffee’s dehydrating effects.

In the long term, though, my body adjusts as it builds a tolerance to caffeine.

But if you stop consuming coffee for a while – and then start drinking it again – you lose that tolerance, which compels you to drink more water until your body readjusts.

Additionally, caffeine can lead to health issues like headaches, a rapid heartbeat, trembling, and trouble sleeping—so you don’t want to add dehydration to the unpleasantness.

Therefore, I recommend that with every cup of coffee, you should drink at least two cups of water to balance out your body while aiding with digestion and metabolism.

You can also drink a cup of herbal tea to help unwind and promote better sleep.

Click here for 4 ways to sleep better after gallbladder surgery.

5: Drink Electrolytes to Replace Lost Minerals

Caffeine in coffee has a laxative potential.

Drinking two or more cups of coffee can often get your bowels moving and even cause diarrhea [1].

Furthermore, the acidic nature of brewed coffee causes the body to produce more bile, which can stimulate your digestive tract.

If acid seems to be the issue, I recommend coffee beans – especially 100% arabica – as they score lower on the acidity scale.

And if you find yourself running to the toilet after drinking coffee, make sure you stay hydrated as those extra trips to the bathroom not only flush out water but also electrolytes.

To combat this, drink water, juices, an electrolyte-replacement solution, or sports drinks.

Additionally, you could eat a balanced diet consisting of bananas, rice, bread, and applesauce.

Bananas are an alkaline food that cancels the harshness of the extra acids created by caffeine.

Click here for 6 ways to sleep better when you have a stomach ulcer.

6: Take a Warm Bath to Increase Bloodflow and Soothe You

To fight the caffeine circulating in your bloodstream, a warm bath or shower might be all it takes to get a restful night.

That’s because a warm bath or shower before bedtime increases blood flow and can help calm your nerves after drinking coffee.

The warmth of the water sends a rush of blood to your hands and feet, where your blood vessels dilate and move closer to the surface of the skin, causing you to sweat and cool your bloodstream [2].

As you leave the bathroom, your core body temperature drops, which helps your natural circadian process and initiates good sleep.

Find out how to sleep better when you have a fever here.

7: Diffuse Relaxing Essential Oils

Using products with soothing scents – like shower gels, body lotions, and essential oils – helps you unwind and prepares your body and mind for bedtime.

Olfactory stimulation through fragrance inhalation promotes a psycho-physiological relaxed state that may help induce sleep.

Relaxing odors like lavender, rosemary, peppermint, and chamomile can attenuate the stimulant effects of caffeine on body activities such as pulse rate and blood pressure, putting you in a calm state of mind.

Calming odors may also act as a natural sedative, helping you fall asleep faster after drinking coffee.

I prefer to inhale evening primrose oil or a couple of drops of magnesium oil to put my overworked brain at ease and drift off quickly.

Find out if it’s safe to sleep with incense burning here.

8: Take a Rutaecarpine Anti-Caffeine Pill (Caution Advised!)

If you drink coffee late during the day, you can try anti-caffeine pills, which contain rutaecarpine.

Rutaecarpine helps break down the caffeine and speeds up its excretion, thus flushing it out of your system faster.

This simple trick helps you fall asleep quicker after a caffeine-loaded day.

However, taking daily doses of rutaecarpine over the long term can cause severe damage to your liver and lead to devastating consequences.

Click here to find out if DayQuil can keep you awake.

9: Practice Meditation

Guided Meditation Body Scan for Sleep and Deep Relaxation

Meditation and caffeine consumption produce opposite effects.

Caffeine stimulates your brain, triggers your fight or flight mode, and can cause you restlessness, stress, and even anxiety.

When you consume caffeine, it competes for adenosine receptors in the brain and does not allow adenosine to signal to the body that it’s tired and sleepy [3].

Meditation -on the other hand – negates the effect of caffeine and slows down your brain activity to initiate sleep.

Try meditation that focuses on breathing and body scanning – as instructed in the video above.

Practice Deep Breathing

Breathing deep and slow is an excellent way to initiate the onset of sleep after drinking coffee.

It not only takes your mind off the coffee you drank a couple of hours before, but it also helps calm down the physical symptoms.

Deep breathing may also help lower high blood pressure, alleviate muscle tension, slow down heart rate, and ease the body gently into sleep.

Take slow, deep breaths through your nose, then exhale through your mouth while making a whoosh sound.

It’s a good idea to place one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy to make sure your belly expands – not your chest – as you inhale.

I like to visualize my breath as it passes through my nostrils and down into my belly, sensing the tension detach from my body as I exhale.

Practice the Body Scan Exercise

The idea behind the body scan is to release all stressors to achieve a restful night.

Shift your focus gradually to each part of your body, starting at your head, then move the focus slowly down your body a little every few seconds.

By mentally scanning your body this way, you feel an immediate sense of calm and balance as you become more primed for sleep.

Try these 8 ways to get to sleep when you have OCD thoughts.

10: Eat Your Last Meal 3 Hours Before Bed

Eating too close to bedtime after drinking coffee can cause sleep-disrupting digestive issues like acid reflux.

Therefore, I recommend you eat your last meal 3 hours before bedtime.

That said, not all foods ruin your chances of a good night’s sleep.

It’s true: certain foods have a calming, sleep-inducing effect on the body, which makes falling asleep easier.

These foods typically include bread, vegetables, shellfish, milk, cherries, and kiwis.

Foods with high tryptophan content increase relaxation, decrease stress, improve mood, and enhance sleep, as tryptophan is a precursor of melatonin and serotonin [4].

You can also opt for slow-digesting, fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, beans, lentils, starchy vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Cutting down on refined sugar also helps some people deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Find out if nicotine can keep you awake here.

11: Moderate Your Caffeine Consumption

Coffee is good for the first half of your day and bad for the second half, so try to keep your caffeine levels manageable throughout the day.

Caffeine can take at least 8 hours to completely clear from your system.

Even if you have coffee just after lunch, there would still be some caffeine in your bloodstream later that night, keeping you up and depriving you of restful sleep.

Too much caffeine in your system can result in difficulty falling asleep – or staying asleep – and waking up feeling tired and lethargic the following morning.

So if you’re worried about sleep, I recommend you limit your daily caffeine consumption – meaning if you drink 4 cups of coffee, gradually bring that down to 3, then 2, or whatever your goal is.

Find out if it’s safe to sleep with an electric blanket on here.

12: Replace Your Regular Coffee with Decaf

Regular coffee acts as a wake-up booster because of its high caffeine content.

On the other hand, decaffeinated coffee, or “decaf,” offers a great alternative to those who experience jitters and sleeping difficulties.

It’s similar in taste and appearance to regular coffee but contains very little caffeine, as most of it’s removed from the beans before the roasting and grinding process [5].

As a result, the ultra-low caffeine levels in decaf coffee won’t keep you awake at night. 

Try these 12 thought and relaxation strategies for better sleep here.

13: Unwind With Relaxing Music

Native American Indian Spirit of Meditation

Listen to something calming before you go to bed to help unwind your body and mind.

Look for apps that have sleep stories to help combat the mental stimulation caused by drinking coffee.

We all have musical preferences, like classical symphonies specially created to induce sleep or more natural sounds like beach waves, swaying grass, or winds blowing.

I prefer to listen to guided meditation to put myself in a more relaxed state after consuming coffee.

Although the native American meditation music in the video above is one of my long-time favorites too.

Guided meditation usually includes the calming voice of a narrator along with soothing sounds and music designed to promote a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere.

The background noises, repetition, and lack of emotion in the narrator’s voice help you concentrate on nothing of significance, which helps neutralize your mind.

Find out if you can sleep on a trampoline here.

14: Avoid Alcohol and Nicotine

Many smokers combine nicotine with caffeine, especially during the traditional coffee-cigarette breaks at work.

It’s true: nicotine speeds up caffeine metabolism and reduces its half-life, but it can cause a range of harmful effects on both the mind and body.

And alcohol causes insomnia and withdrawal symptoms similar to nicotine and caffeine.

Indeed, it interferes with your circadian rhythm and can cause difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

Therefore, it’s not wise to use alcohol or nicotine to counter the stimulating effects of caffeine.

Find out if it’s safe to sleep in a hoodie here.

15: Talk to a Therapist

A dedicated therapist can develop a potential treatment plan if you’re addicted to coffee and insomnia is a persistent issue.

In fact, the effects of caffeine will eventually go away on their own, but you may experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches, which can be bothersome.

Fortunately, there are over-the-counter pain relievers without caffeine that can help relieve withdrawal headaches.

A healthcare provider can help you reduce your caffeine intake gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms and improve your sleep.

Find out if it’s safe to sleep in a maternity support belt here.

Your Guide to Coffee and Better Sleep

Below are the answers to some common questions regarding coffee and sleep:

Why Can’t You Sleep After Drinking Coffee?

It can be difficult to sleep after drinking coffee due to coffee blocking adenosine – a sleep-promoting chemical in the brain – delaying the onset of sleep and keeping you awake and restless.

How Can You Get Caffeine Out of Your System Fast?

Drinking plenty of water, exercising, and taking anti-caffeine pills (rutaecarpine) may potentially help to get caffeine out of your system faster.

How Long After Drinking Coffee Can You Sleep?

You should be able to sleep after 6-8 hours of consuming coffee since caffeine levels peak in the blood within about 30 minutes of consumption, and half of it is still in your body after 6 hours.

So, if you consume 40 milligrams (mg) of caffeine at 10 pm, you will have 20mg in your system after 6 hours, so in this example, that’s 4 am.

To be on the safe side, try not to drink coffee 8 hours before your bedtime.

However, caffeine makes some people tired instead of alert.

The reason is that caffeine causes sleep deprivation, and sleep deprivation causes sleepiness the following day, which then requires more caffeine to keep up [3]. 

Sleepiness can also be a symptom caused by caffeine abstinence.

That’s why some regular caffeine consumers feel overly tired in the morning if they’ve gone all night without caffeine.

Can Caffeine Cause Insomnia?

Caffeine can cause insomnia because it acts on your central nervous system and stimulates the production of adrenaline – the hormone that gives you a burst of energy.

The surge in adrenaline increases your state of wakefulness, alertness, and subsequent insomnia.

Furthermore, caffeine consumption can lead to anxiety, nervousness, irritability, frequent nighttime awakenings, and poor quality sleep.

Conclusion: Avoid Rutaecarpine if Possible

Although it may be tempting to take rutaecarpine to combat the effects of coffee regularly, this anti-caffeine pill may be harmful to the liver long-term.

Instead, focus on natural ways to calm your mind and body after drinking too much coffee such as meditation and light exercise.

Click here to discover 31 ways to sleep better in a hot and stuffy bedroom.


Sources and References

[1] Mackenzie, Macaela. “This is why coffee is giving you the runs.” NYpost, 2015, https://nypost.com/2015/07/27/this-is-why-coffee-is-giving-you-the-runs/.

[2] Haghayegh, Shahab. “The science of why a warm bath before bed helps you sleep.” Quartz, 2019, https://qz.com/quartzy/1686779/the-science-of-why-a-warm-bath-before-bed-helps-you-sleep/#:~:text=This%20blood%20flow%20brings%20the,process%20and%20improve%20your%20sleep.

[3] Foley, Logan. “Caffeine and Sleep.” Sleep Foundation, 2021, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/caffeine-and-sleep.

[4] Friedman, Mendel. “Analysis, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Tryptophan.” International Journal of Tryptophan Research, vol. 11, 2018. Sage Journals, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1178646918802282.

[5] Grover, Neha. “What Is Decaf Coffee? Is It A Good Idea To Replace Regular Coffee With It?” Food ndtv, 2019, https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/what-is-decaf-coffee-is-it-a-good-idea-to-replace-regular-coffee-with-it-2055458.

Image Attribution and Licencing

Main image: ‘Coffee’ by NikiLitov – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

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