Does Coffee Help You Stay Awake? (Answered)

No matter if you are studying late for an exam, working all day, or just doing the laundry at night, coffee can help you boost energy, create alertness and keep you awake.

Coffee is everyone’s favorite drink and the most widely used legal drug. We use it to wake ourselves up in the morning, but how does it keep us awake? Coffee does have fantastic health benefits, but it can be bad for your health if you go overboard with your daily intake. 

Coffee can help you stay awake because of the active stimulant: caffeine. Adenosine in your brain, when connected with receptors, makes you feel sleepy. Caffeine, however, blocks the adenosine receptor. Hence blocking the feeling of sleepiness and promoting alertness.

So, does coffee help you stay awake? And how many cups will do the job? Let’s find out!

Does Coffee Really Keep You Awake?

Yes! Coffee can keep you awake. It is known as an effective energizing drink. It can make you feel alert and can even improve your mental performance. 

The healthy intake of caffeine is 400mg per day, as advised by the FDA. If you start to consume more, your body adapts to the daily intake, and the drug’s effect becomes less effective. Coffee has many health benefits, among those are:

  • Improve energy level
  • Burn body fat
  • Provide essential nutrients
  • Improve physical performance
  • Lower the risk of type 2 diabetes 
  • May prevent Alzheimer and Dementia

One reason which is why most people consume it daily is it keeps you awake. 

But how does coffee do this?

There is a chemical called adenosine in your brain and when combined with particular receptors, it makes a biochemical reaction that makes you sleepy. 

When you sip on your cup of coffee, caffeine blocks these receptors, causing you to no longer feel sleepy. 

But why do some people need more cups of coffee than others when caffeine is just blocking the body’s natural tendency to sleep?

That happens because when you drink a lot of coffee, your brain creates more adenosine receptors, making you more dependent on coffee to stay awake. So if you suddenly cut your coffee, the adenosine receptors in your brain take more adenosine, making you feel tired and sleepy all the time.

How Much Coffee Should I Drink to Stay Awake?

cup of coffee

You should drink coffee with a caffeine dosage of 50mg to 200mg to stay awake. This should peak at around 30-60 minutes and last for about 4 hours.

The coffee level for a person depends on many factors. It also differs from brand to brand.

A study conducted by the University of Florida on the same type of coffee bought from the same coffee shop for six straight days showed different caffeine ranges in each cup. The highest amount was 564mg per cup of coffee, and the lowest was 259mg.

Those who are not addicted to coffee should not take more than 200mg to avoid dependency. Addicted people who usually consume 300 to 400mg caffeine daily might need some extra dose above 400 mg to stay awake, which is unhealthy and definitely not advisable. Higher amounts of caffeine intake have several health side effects. For example, a dose of 500 to 600mg has the same impact on the body as a low dose of an amphetamine drug. 

FDA recommends three to four cups of 8 oz. of coffee daily as a healthy amount. However, a pregnant woman or mother who is nursing should know to keep it less or avoid it altogether. 

Caffeine amount in a cup of coffee depends on:

  • The coffee bean used
  • How is coffee prepared
  • How is coffee brewed

Coffee does have several health benefits, but it is in no circumstances a healthy drink. 

Powdered pure caffeine is not healthy, and you should need to avoid it at all costs. 

How Long Does a Cup of Coffee Keep You Awake?

A cup of coffee will keep you awake so long as the caffeine is still in your system, and it is usually most effective at its peak, which is 30-60 minutes after you’ve taken the drink. Your body takes 3 to 4 hours to eliminate the half effect of caffeine, and the other half of the drug remains in the body for a longer time. 

Keeping this in mind, you should avoid caffeine at night. If you’re studying for an exam or just working late, you can try to opt for a less caffeinated coffee. It’s important to know that 50mg to 200 mg will do the job, and you don’t need cup upon cups to combat your sleep all night.

You should know that other food and drinks you take might also contain caffeine. Caffeine can be found in chocolate, cereals, ice cream, candies, and soft drinks.

assortment of food and drinks

U.S. Food and Drug Administration labels caffeine as a ” substance generally recognized as safe.” Caffeine is not a food additive by the FDA and must be mentioned as an added ingredient on the drinks labels. However, labels don’t show you the amount of caffeine in the drink, so the table below might help you choose a better option to stay awake.

Product Serving Size Caffeine Content
Coffee Brewed1 cup (8 oz.)95mg
Espresso1 oz64mg
Coffee, instant8 oz62mg
Coffee, brewed, decaf1 cup2mg
Lipton Black Tea1 cup55mg
Lipton Original Iced Tea16 oz50mg
Tea, brewed1 cup47mg
Laptop1 cup45mg
Unsweetened Instant Tea 1 cup26mg
Pepsi One 12 oz 54mg
Mountain Dew 12 oz 53mg
Mellow Yellow 12 oz 52.5mg
Diet Coke 12 oz 46.5mg
Pepsi12 oz37.5mg
Diet Pepsi12 oz36mg
Chocolate chips semi-sweet 1 cup104mg
Chocolate chips milk 1 cup 34mg
Milk chocolate bar1 bar9mg
Frozen yogurt, chocolate 1 cup5mg
Caffeine Amount

Choose your food and beverages wisely, keeping in mind the caffeine amount they contain.

How to Stay Awake Without Coffee?

If you are not a regular coffee drinker, you won’t always need coffee to stay awake. Several techniques help your brain focus and your body be active for hours.

Don’t want to take caffeine to stay awake? Don’t worry, I listed down some proven techniques that will work as a caffeine-free wake-up boost for you.

  1. Eat well: You might be already aware of the benefits of eating healthy and well. But here’s your reminder that skipping meals or overeating can make you feel lazy and tired. Do your body a favor and eat well!
  2. Exercise: Even if you don’t think you need a workout, you still need to do it. Sitting in one place all day for work and studies cause stagnant in our body, making us feel lazy. Get up and do some jumping jacks when you feel like sleeping.
  3. Stay Hydrated: Dehydration causes fatigue. Make sure you drink enough water along your healthy diet to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
  4. Take a break: Sometimes, we are not sleepy but just tired. If you are working on a laptop, take a break, put it in sleep mode, and take a walk outside or something that refreshes your mood.
  5. Take a Snack: Take a quick snack, look for an unsweetened one that would be absorbed slowly, and keep the energy level high.
  6. Power Nap: If you still feel sleepy after trying different strategies, set an alarm of half an hour, take a quick power nap, and recharge yourself.

For more tips on how to stay awake without coffee, you can watch this video:

Is it Unhealthy to Drink Coffee to Stay Awake?

Taking too much coffee to stay awake isIt is not unhealthy to drink coffee to stay awake, especially if it is done moderately. However, it is unhealthy to deprive your body of sleep by using coffee to stay awake.

Coffee intake of more than 200mg per day can create disruptive effects on your sleep. A study shows that caffeine can disrupt the your body accustomed sleep schedule, which can be detrimental to your health.

Another study shows that taking caffeine 6 hours before bed can reduce the total hour of your sleep.

Caffeine can also disrupt the amount of deep sleep that keeps you active the following day. Having disrupted deep sleep means you’re going to wake up tired and sleepy the next day.

High intake of caffeine can have many unhealthy effects on the body:

  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Migraine and headache
  • Muscle tremors
  • Sweating
  • Disruptive sleep

If you are dependent on coffee and can’t function without gulping down 5-6 cups, you can feel withdrawal symptoms. This happens when they limit their intake or cut it down completely. These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Low energy
  • Bad mood
  • Sleepiness

Today, many young college and university students consume a lot of caffeine daily to get through their busy routine. Teens and young adults use pure caffeine powder as an energy booster and weight loss supplement which can have side effects on their physical and mental health. 

To Conclude

Caffeine is an active stimulant that can help you stay awake, as welll as active and energized for hours. But doing so may have repercussions to your health and might disrupt your sleep schedule.

So, it turns out that you should take one to two cups of healthy brewed coffee every day because it has many benefits for your body. However, keep in mind that too much caffeine could do the opposite to your body. It can make you addicted that you can’t stay awake until you have cups of coffee after every two to three hours. If this sounds like you, it’s time to change your habit.

So remember, if you need a wake-up call in the morning or for a day, one or two cups of coffee may keep the tiredness at bay, but too much caffeine can leave you feeling sleeping all day.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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