When Does A Coffee Crash Happen? (Answered)

A lady drinking coffee

Coffee is undoubtedly the most widely consumed drink all over the globe. It’s a common thing to know that the drink contains a potent stimulant called caffeine that is considered to be a psychoactive drug.

Caffeine has a major role in giving you the energy boost from coffee and this can also affect your neural activity with better focus.

One of the main reasons people rely on coffee is the drink’s role in eliminating fatigue. To get through the day, coffee helps busy people by providing the instant energy jolt desired.

However, too much dependency on the drink creates the sensation of addiction and exhibits physical concerns similar to caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

For habitual coffee drinkers, curbing caffeine consumption can give you withdrawal symptoms in form of caffeine crashes.

Short answer: When you stop drinking coffee for a while, you experience the feeling of withdrawal in form of a caffeine crash. The symptoms usually start within 8-12 hours of the last coffee consumption and the common symptoms that one encounters varies depending on individual factors.

If you’re eager to have a better understanding, go through the following sections for a detailed explanation of the topic.

What Are The Symptoms Of a Coffee Crash?

The commonly experienced symptoms of a coffee crash or caffeine crash are:

  • Nausea
  • Severe headache
  • Brain fog
  • Compounded sugar crash
  • Negative mood
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

When you’re having lots of coffee, your body starts to excrete cortisol as a response to consumption. The effects of caffeine get diminished as you increase your coffee consumption and the body stops producing cortisol. You can read my other article to see how coffee affects our cortisol levels.

This cortisol is a steroid hormone that is responsible for making us feel awake and energized. The loss of cortisol contributes to the feeling of tiredness and irritation in form of caffeine crashes.

However, the severity of the crash can be managed if you drink coffee in quality portions and at the proper time.

This video provides a wider explanation of how your body reacts to no caffeine.

How Long After Drinking Coffee Does a Crash Occur?

Symptoms of caffeine crashes usually occur after 8-12 hours from last coffee consumption. The symptoms can stay in your system for about a week and may take a peak within 1-2 days.

For some people, it may take about 24 hours to show the first sign of a coffee crash.

Caffeine builds a dependence on the body within 3 days of regular consumption. If you stop the consumption abruptly, it causes mood swings, headaches, or decreases alertness.

Thus, caffeine dependence is what causes caffeine crashes. The best way to avoid the severity of the crash is to replace the drink slowly from the diet and choose healthier alternatives as a substitute.

Also, the signs of caffeine crash differ depending on the person’s metabolism. Before quitting cold turkey it’s better to find ways to avoid the crash in the first place by controlling the intake portion.

Why Does Caffeine Crash Happen?

a person experiencing a coffee crash

A caffeine crash happens because when you have your cup of joe, the liver enzyme called CYP1A2 breaks the caffeine down. The gene, coding this enzyme differs among individuals and this is why different liver metabolizes caffeine differently.

For people who have a faster metabolism, the enzyme breaks down easily and the effects cease away quickly. Slow metabolizers tend to metabolize the caffeine at a slower pace and as a result, the effects stick around their system for a longer period.

Since bodies are different, some people can have multiple cups of coffee without having any major side effects while some can get uncomfortable within the first cup.

Your nervous system also plays an important role in the caffeine crash. Lack of sleep and inadequate rest result in disrupted function in the system. This triggers a higher level of adenosine. The coffee that you’re drinking blocks the adenosine from attaching it to the brain receptors and prevents you from a sound sleep.

Once the caffeine wears off, the adenosine that rushes in your brain makes you feel tired and you feel the crash sensation immediately.  

How To Get Rid Of The Signs Of Caffeine Crash From Coffee?

Similar to the signs of caffeine withdrawal, you can’t get rid of the signs of caffeine crash. The one thing you can do is to wait for the symptoms to go away.

However, there are effective ways that can help you in curbing the signs of caffeine crashes which are:

  • Drinking an adequate amount of water
  • Curbing the coffee consumption for a while
  • Drinking other fluids like smoothies and juices
  • Getting enough rest and sleep
  • Finding healthy caffeine replacements

What Are The Differences Between Caffeine Crash and Sugar Crash?

Coffee, sugar, croissant, and a chocolate.
Sugar crashes can be severe than caffeine crashes.

It’s quite simple to point out the differences. Though the tool causing the crash is different, both the condition show similar symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, sleepiness, etc.

A sugar crash is a more complicated case than a caffeine crash, however. It includes more complex health issues and make prolonged health concerns in the long run.

Basis of ComparisonCaffeine CrashSugar Crash
What does cause it?A stimulantA carbohydrate
What is this a sign of?Abrupt cessation of regular doses of caffeine Unstable blood sugar level
Are there any health benefits of the ingredient?ManyNot really
Which is more dangerous?Uncomfortable but not deadlyHypoglycemia can be life-risking
A quick comparison between caffeine crash and sugar crash

Most of the signs of both crashes are similar at the beginning. However, a sugar crash can also come with chronic health concerns that are more life-risking than in the case of a caffeine crash.

No matter how bad your caffeine crash is, you’re liking to get over it within a few days of curbing the coffee. On the other hand, the sugar crash is far more complicated.

Irregular blood glucose causes more concerning health outcomes that include heart disease, kidney diseases, eye damage, dental disease, nerve problems, and stroke.

How Do You Avoid Caffeine Crashes From Coffee?

You can avoid a caffeine crash by maintaining a healthy gut-supporting diet that will keep your blood sugar levels healthy. You must also know when to drink your coffee and to avoid drinking it on an empty stomach, and for further measure, maintain a proper sleep schedule.

If you’re too much dependent on the caffeine dose from coffee or suppose from any other caffeinated sources like tea or energy drinks, you will get the side effects of eliminating it from your diet in form of withdrawal symptoms.

Before looking for ways to avoid the unwanted crash symptoms, you must search for the underlying reasons that are triggering the condition. It can be a lack of sleep, hunger, nutrient deficit, and even stress.

After finding out the major reasons behind your condition, adapt some effective steps to get rid of the displeasing feeling of crashes from coffee.

First of all, try to eat a gut-supporting diet that will help in keeping the blood sugar level healthy. Caffeine can amplify the already disrupted sugar level. The cranky feeling from blood sugar level down or rise may give the fatigue sensation and cause a dependency on the coffee drink.

Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level with a balanced diet will help you in getting rid of the signs of caffeine crashes faster.

Fruits and coffee
Try to balance your meals with fiber-enriched foods and add coffee as a complimentary.

Secondly, fix a healthy portion to drink regularly and at the proper time. To get the best boost try to drink the coffee in recommended caffeine amounts within mid to late morning. This is the time when your cortisol level is low compared to the early morning and the drink won’t affect the caffeine-induced cortisol spike.

Thirdly, try to avoid drinking coffee on an empty stomach. Without real food, the coffee doesn’t metabolize well with the stomach acids. This may hurt your intestinal linings and cause acid reflux. The stomach ache, later on, can make you sick and tired.

Lastly, get an adequate amount of sleep which is between 7 to 9 hours for adults.

How Long Does The Crash Affect Your Body System?

Caffeine withdrawal symptoms may last for about a week as well. As a similar incident to the withdrawal, the condition due to the caffeine crash may also stay for a similar timeline.

This depends on how well your body is adapting to the consumption curb.

People with normal sensitivity to caffeine don’t get the effect for a long time since their body metabolizes caffeine well.

Within two to three days the signs of the crash may cease and your body may feel calmer. For excessive caffeine doses, the crash effects are usually more severe. This person may take a longer time to flush the caffeine crash symptom.


Some people are more susceptible to caffeine crashes and this is why they may experience severe unwanted crashes.

For habitual drinkers, the body develops a sense of dependency and whenever you don’t fill the required caffeine up, it triggers the crash signs.

Caffeine generally hits with the hard crash after 8 hours of drinking the last cup and is characterized by severe headache, tiredness, and irritation.

The only way to avoid the severity of the crash is to control the intake quantity and get the proper amount of rest. Also, don’t forget the necessity of a balanced diet in this regard. Lack of nutrients also contributes to body fatigue.

Try to maintain your blood sugar level at a healthy margin and don’t turn cold turkey in the case of coffee.

Coffee has many health benefits as well. Drinking in moderation can give you many health boosts.

So try to consume 1-2 cups of coffee at best in a day. Keep yourself hydrated and eat consistently healthy foods throughout the day. In this way, the buzz from the coffee crash won’t affect you even if you skip the drink for a few days.

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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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