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How Late Can You Drink Coffee? – We Explore All Coffee Drinking Times


Most experts would tell you that you need to stop drinking coffee at around 3pm in the afternoon. However, this isn’t true for everyone. Let’s take a look at when you should stop your coffee consumption and why:

What is the Latest Time You Should Drink Coffee?

Before we can answer this question, consider the following:

  • the levels of caffeine in your system after consumption
  • how long it takes for caffeine to leave your system

The effects of caffeine can be felt around 15 minutes after your first cup of coffee. The level of caffeine in your system reaches peak level about an hour later. It remains this way for several hours after your initial cup.

Around 6 hours after having a cup of coffee, the caffeine level in your system will have halved. However, it can be up to 10 hours before the caffeine completely leaves your system.

What does this information tell you about the latest time to have a cup of coffee?

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Well, to guarantee uninterrupted sleep, there should be as little caffeine in your body as possible. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should drink your last cup of coffee ten hours before you go to sleep.

Most experts recommend that you stop drinking coffee around 6 hours before bed. This means that if your bedtime is at 10pm, your last cup of coffee should be at 4pm.

For the best results, stop drinking coffee well before evening falls. Due to this, you may want to have your last cup no later than 2 pm in the afternoon.

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Does How Much Caffeine You Drink Matter?

Your sleep can depend on factors other than when you had your last cup of coffee. The exact amount you consume will also impact your sleep.

The more coffee you drink, the more caffeine there will be in your system. Remember how it takes your body up to 6 hours to get rid of just half the caffeine amount? Well, when you consume more caffeine, even at the 6-hour mark, there will be quite a bit left in your system.

Naturally, this will make you feel more wakeful. To add to this, there is no guarantee that a larger amount of caffeine will completely leave your system at the 10-hour mark.

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Due to this, it is important to keep track of how much caffeine you’re drinking. It’s a good idea to stick to around 200mg to 400mg a day.

An 8-ounce of coffee can contain between 80mg and 100mg of caffeine. However, this can vary by brand as well as how much coffee grounds were used to brew your drink.

Based on these averages, it is probably best to drink no more than 4 cups of coffee a day. If you are sensitive to caffeine, try aiming for lower than that.

Can You Drink Decaf Coffee At Any Time?

Since caffeine is probably to blame for your sleep issues, what if you simply switched to decaf coffee instead? Wouldn’t this give you the option of drinking coffee all day long?

What most people don’t realize is that decaf doesn’t mean caffeine-free. There will be traces of caffeine in even the decaf version. To top it off, the content can vary quite a bit as well.

There could be anywhere between 3mg and 17mg of caffeine in your coffee. Needless to say, this is a lot less than a regular cup of coffee. However, you can’t ignore the fact that it can still impact your sleep.

This is especially true if you are sensitive to caffeine. Not to mention, if you are someone who drinks several cups of coffee throughout the day, your total caffeine content could equal as much as two cups of regular java.

Still, switching out some or most of your daily coffee consumption with decaf coffee is a good start. You should be mindful of when you consume it, though. To avoid any sleep interruptions, don’t drink decaf coffee in the evening.

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How Late is Too Late for Coffee?

If you are like most people, quitting your coffee consumption at 2pm can seem a bit drastic. After all, a lot of people feel that they need a caffeine boost at around 4pm when their energy and attention begin to wane.

Based on this, what is the latest time you can enjoy that last cup of coffee?

Well, there is one thing that you can appreciate about caffeine – everyone reacts to it differently. There are some people who are more genetically sensitive to its effects. This is often because their bodies don’t flush out caffeine as effectively.

As a result, the caffeine remains in their system for longer. If you belong to this group, then quitting caffeine even at the recommended time won’t do the trick. You may have to stop drinking coffee even earlier in the day!

This is also true for people who already suffer from insomnia or sleep issues. Adding caffeine to the equation could worsen the problem and make it more difficult for you to fall or stay asleep.

At the same time, it is possible for some people to have built up a caffeine tolerance. In this case, you may find that the caffeine clears out of your system faster. Or, your body may naturally do this for you.

In this instance, the window for that last cup of coffee is much greater. You could potentially drink coffee right up until a few hours before you go to sleep.

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Figuring Out Your Individual Timing

So, which group do you belong to?

You would be the best judge of this. After all, you have a better understanding of your relationship with caffeine than anyone else. Think about what time you currently have your last cup of coffee. Now, consider how easily you fall asleep at night.

If there are too many variables to consider to help you find the answer, it is time to run an experiment.

First things first, remember that coffee isn’t the only drink – or food – that contains caffeine. Tea, energy drinks, and even chocolate contain caffeine. As a result, consider whether you consume any of these items during the day and how it may be contributing to your overall caffeine consumption.

Next, think about your usual bedtime. Then, determine the 10-hour mark before this. Have your last cup of coffee of the day at this time. Make a note of how easily you fall asleep during the night. For more accurate results, you may want to do this for a few days or even a week.

If you are impatient, just give it a try for one day. In case you find that you fall asleep quite well, it is time to move on to the next phase. If your sleep schedule is still disrupted, there could be another issue or you may need to run the experiment for longer.

Once you have tested the 10-hour mark, try having your last cup of 6 hours before you sleep. Do you feel tired or are you able to doze off without any issue? If it is the latter, you can have your final cup of coffee 6 hours before bedtime. Otherwise, you may need to push it back to around 10 hours.

Is It Bad to Drink Coffee Late at Night?

Well, this does depend on your exact reaction to coffee.

If you are someone who is greatly affected by caffeine, naturally drinking coffee late at night isn’t going to be a good idea.

You should also bear in mind that caffeine can create a vicious cycle which is difficult to break out of. If you drink coffee late at night and find that you can’t fall asleep, this probably means that you don’t get enough rest. So, you will feel tired and sleepy the next day. This will also prevent you from concentrating on any work you have to do.

This could lead you to drink more coffee which can then disrupt your sleep cycle once more. On this goes until you end up losing quite a bit of sleep.

On the other hand, the occasional late cup of coffee won’t do too much harm. If you decide to indulge and if it does keep you awake, simply be careful with your caffeine consumption the following day. This should help you get back on the right track.

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How Does Coffee Affect Sleep?

So far, it’s clear that you shouldn’t drink coffee past a certain time – but why is this, precisely? Well, it’s because caffeine has a stimulating effect on your body. Therefore, drinking java too late in the day can disrupt your sleep schedule.

What impact does coffee have on your sleep patterns?

One of the main things that caffeine does is to cause a reduction of a substance known as 6-sulfatoxymelatonin. This is a metabolite of melatonin – an important component of your sleep.

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As darkness falls, your body begins producing more melatonin. This is what signals the other systems to slowly prepare your body for sleep. However, when there is a lower amount of melatonin in your system, your body experiences a state of wakefulness.

Can You Fall Asleep After Drinking Coffee?

Is there any way for you to fall asleep after drinking coffee?

Well, interestingly enough, drinking coffee can actually make some people feel tired! This may happen for a few different reasons.

One of the ways that coffee perks you up is by preventing the brain’s adenosine receptors from taking in adenosine. However, the content of adenosine in your system won’t be affected – rather it builds up. So, once the effects of caffeine wear off, the adenosine is able to flood in. This can make you feel tired all of a sudden.

There is also the fact that most people find it quite easy to consume large quantities of coffee – far more than they are capable of with water. So, it is only natural that you have to relieve yourself more often. This can lead to a mild form of dehydration which can tire you out.

Finally, many people take sugar in their coffee. When you do this, you are increasing the risk of getting a sugar crash. This will inevitably make you feel rather drowsy.

If you are someone who reacts to coffee in such a way then, yes, there is a chance for you to fall asleep after you drink coffee. If not, you can create a better sleep environment for yourself.

Here are a few things that you can try:

Take a Warm Bath

Take a warm bath around 90 minutes before bed. This will cause your body temperature to cool down quickly, which is one of the ways that your body prepares to go to sleep. This will make it easier for you to fall asleep.

Cool Your Bedroom

A cool room will make your body ready for sleep as well. So, turn on your air conditioning or fan a few minutes before bedtime. You can then drift off more quickly.

Ensure Total Darkness

Even a little light in your room can disrupt your sleep cycle. Make sure the room is pitch black and that the curtains are drawn. If your phone lights up with notifications, change these settings.

Cut Down on Noise

Needless to say, the smallest noise can keep you up when you’re trying to doze off. This includes your phone, so make sure to put it on silent. If you live in a noisy area, try wearing ear plugs or even get a white noise machine. You need a completely silent room to be able to fall asleep.

This should give you a better idea of how late you can drink your coffee. Remember, it is all about striking a balance between your coffee craving and ensuring that you get enough rest every day. Now that you are more informed about the topic, you know just what to do when it comes to getting that caffeine fix.

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About the author


Samuel is a coffee lover and a writer. He's travelled extensively throughout Southeast Asia and has soaked up the sun, the culture, and of course - the coffee. He loves to write about his experiences, and he hopes to travel even more in the future.

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