Caffeine Hangover and Crash: What It Is and How to Avoid It

caffeine crash

Most people who consume caffeine have experienced a caffeine crash but is it possible to have hangover-like symptoms from consuming too much caffeine?

The answer to that is complicated but we’ll define both of these conditions and discuss how to avoid them.

Caffeine Crash

A caffeine crash usually occurs a few hours after a person has consumed a moderate to high dose of caffeine and was previously in a tired state.

Symptoms of a Caffeine Crash

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Dozing off

When a person is already feeling tired, they have increased levels of adenosine in their brains. If they consume caffeine, the caffeine molecule blocks the adenosine from attaching to its receptors in the brain. However, while the caffeine is keeping a person alert and energetic adenosine is continuing to build up in the person’s brain.

After a few hours, as caffeine is metabolized, its effects begin to wear off. The built up adenosine then floods its receptors which signals the body that it is time for sleep, but at a level much more intense than normal.

This is the feeling of the caffeine crash.

How to Avoid a Caffeine Crash

  1. The first step in avoiding a caffeine crash is to get adequate rest. Starting out the day with normal adenosine levels helps prevent a crash.
  2. Spread out your caffeine consumption throughout your workday. For example, instead of having two coffees back to back in the morning, have one in the morning and another at lunchtime.
  3. Keep your caffeine dose within reason. A single dose of more than 200 mg of caffeine at one time can lead to a caffeine crash.
  4. Don’t consume caffeine on an empty stomach. Food provides real energy for your body and caffeine only provides a temporary sense of energy. Without real calories, the body will quickly feel fatigued and tired once the caffeine wears off. Eat a healthy breakfast along with your dose of caffeine.
caffeine hangover

Caffeine Hangover

Is it possible to become drunk on caffeine and then experience a caffeine hangover the next day?

Yes, and no…

As caffeine is a stimulant the term “drunk” isn’t a good descriptor of overconsumption. The word “high” better describes the feeling of having more caffeine than you normally do.

What goes up must come down. When a person comes down from having too much caffeine, it can feel like a hangover.

  • Drastic changes in daily caffeine consumption can trigger a caffeine headache which is similar to the way someone feels when they are hungover from alcohol.
  • Because of the high levels of caffeine, the neurotransmitter adenosine was able to build up in the brain. Once the caffeine is metabolized, the brain is flooded with adenosine which causes feelings of extreme tiredness and lethargy.
  • Too much caffeine can also cause nausea and vomiting which is another may it can mimic the consumption of too much alcohol.

How to Avoid a Caffeine Hangover

Avoiding a caffeine hangover means controlling your caffeine consumption.  This is a two-fold process:

  1. Know the amount of caffeine in the beverages you are drinking.
  2. Be aware of your safe dose based on your age and weight.

By only consuming a daily caffeine amount that is safe for your body, a caffeine hangover will not have a chance to manifest itself.

Using Caffeine Wisely

Both of these common problems can be prevented by using caffeine in moderation and as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

The moment we use caffeine as a replacement for sleep or in excess, we negate the benefits the drug can potentially deliver.

Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, and then use caffeine to give you that extra edge of alertness and productivity that will help you do your job or your studies to the best of your abilities.

If you are frequently suffering from caffeine crashes and/or caffeine hangovers it may be time to quit caffeine or cut back on your consumption.

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  • Brad Porter

    How much caffeine I have in a day depends on what is in the house.

  • Abo Hassan Kdouh

    I normally drink energy drink of 4 or 5 sometime 6 days but now I cut down to 2 but when I dink the 3rd 1 my throat starting to be tightness , does any 1 have a clue what’s is the problem

  • David

    I have found energy drinks to be most effective if consumed no more than one per week. The more I drink, the more my body gets used to the excess caffeine. If I drink one or two daily then I feel tired UNITL I drink an energy drink. In other words, My body needs the caffeine in order to feel normal. If however I drink only one a week then I get that extra zing that I love! My recommendation is drink them sparingly when you really want that boost and just like the article says, try to avoid using them to make up for lost sleep.

  • Mike Hewlett

    Heart attack

  • Pingback: The Science of Caffeine | Weird and Wonderful Science()

  • The Night Slasher

    The choice is pretty clear. Drink it daily and habitually, and the effects will eventually wear down to a point where you would need to drink it just to feel normal, and cannot function without it. However, used sparingly, 2-3 times per week and no more, it can be a great boost to productivity and will certainly supercharge you on a day where you feel somewhat below par. If you’re feeling below par all the time, then there’s something certainly wrong with your health.

  • Johnny Laser

    All coffee drinkers I’ve known via work, family, and friends eventually quit drinking coffee, they usually quit for health reasons. These x-coffee drinkers all think coffee is unhealthy; however, it’s not the coffee that’s unhealthy it’s the way in which it was consumed (i.e. over-consumed)…if you’re having problems with coffee than the marketeers have done their job and you’ve been duped (over-consuming & over-paying, not good for your health nor pocketbook).

    I drink 50/50 decaf/regular coffee and only drink it on the weekends and always with food, usually breakfast; the four cups (sometimes more) of coffee I have on the weekend has the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee. I never experience a coffee hangover and get to enjoy the health benefits of coffee along with the social aspect of meeting friends or family for coffee when most social-gatherings occur, the weekend.

  • Tobias O’Brien

    I get angry, irritated, shaky and hungry all on one cup of coffee! More than one cup would make me like The Hulk but no idea why.

Last Modified: October 1, 2016


  • Silverman, K., Evans, S. M., Strain, E. C., & Griffiths, R. R. (1992). Withdrawal syndrome after the double-blind cessation of caffeine consumption. New England Journal of Medicine, 327(16), 1109-1114. link
  • Fredholm, B. B. (1995). Adenosine, adenosine receptors and the actions of caffeine. Pharmacology & toxicology, 76(2), 93-101. link