Ask the Expert

Ask the Expert: Why Am I Tired?

By Feb 25, 2011May 13th, 201270 Comments

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Joining us today is Jen Mitchell, a long-time SITStah and registered nurse.  We’ve asked Jen to help us with our Ask the Expert series, crafting posts around health topics for women, children, mental wellness, whatever topic our community is interested in.  It’s our way of getting your questions answered, but by a seasoned professional in the field.  To learn more about Jen, head over to the forum.  You can also leave your own health related question for her, which she will answer in an upcoming post.

caffeine effects

Credit: Susannah Ireland / The Times

Question: Caffeine.  It is vital to my survival.  How much is too much?  And if you must do soda, is “Diet” the way to go? (I often think of my Diet Coke as a healthy alternative, but maybe it is not?)

The alarm goes off. You reach over and smack the snooze bar for just a few more sweet moments of sleep. And just as you are getting back to sleep, it goes off again.

A child comes into your bedroom and begins to tap your forehead until you open an eye. You open both eyes to prove to the child that you are awake, hoping that this will in fact make the child go away.

The dog or cat pounces on your bed, kneading and pawing you until you turn over, but they don’t stop. They get right up in your face and blow an ever so sweet smell of animal breath right in your nose followed by a big sloppy kiss.

No matter how you wake up in the morning, getting out of bed is tough. But even tougher is actually waking up.

I am not a morning person. I fumble and stumble and walk around in a zombie state. Like millions of people worldwide, I need caffeine to function. My brain just will not start going until that coffee touches my tongue.

Caffeine is a stimulant that tricks our brains into not up-taking a chemical called adenosine, which is responsible for making us tired or drowsy.

Have you ever had a morning when you were really, really tired and, no matter how much coffee, soda or other caffeinated beverages you consumed, nothing worked?  You were still as tired as when you first woke up and your brain refused to get going?

Instead of getting yet another cup of coffee or soda, try drinking a large glass of water.

so tired

“Why”, you ask?

Well, it has to do with how caffeine works. Caffeine is a stimulant that opens up blood flow to all of the organs, getting them more of the oxygen rich blood they need to function. This includes the kidneys, which in turn causes them to make more urine, which causes you to pee more, which causes mild dehydration and, ultimately, makes you tired. The more caffeine you ingest, the worse this is going to get.

Darn viscous cycle.

There have been many, many studies done on this very subject, but the evidence is inconclusive as to how true this phenomena is. In other words, science won’t confirm or deny whether caffeine causes dehydration.

I am not here to try and disprove science, but I am here to tell you what works for me. The more caffeine I ingest, the more tired I feel, unless I drink water. The mornings that I am super tried are the ones that I have had nothing to drink but coffee. I just keep slamming back the caffeine hoping for a jolt, but all I get is another trip to the bathroom. So I drink a large glass of water and with in a few minutes, BAM! I am bright eyed and bushy tailed. Source via phentermineonline.com the phentermine online website.

This may all be in my head (or kidneys), but it works and I encourage you to try it. If nothing else, you will have consumed one of the eight glasses of water you are supposed to drink for the day and maybe be just a little more awake.

Its a win-win in my book.

This post is part one of a two part series on caffeine. Next time, Jen will address how much caffeine is too much and what that could mean for your body.  If you have a question about your health, then please ask in the SITS forum.

Resource sites:


About Francesca

Francesca has an extensive background in content marketing, public relations, and social outreach. She oversees all Operations at Sway Group, including our robust metrics capabilities. Prior to joining the online world, Francesca oversaw viticulture and oenology at various wineries in both California and Italy, and managed regulatory affairs and facility approvals at the biotech company, Genentech. Francesca has been featured on CBS Sacramento and Food Blogger Pro’s podcast. She has also hosted an AMA webinar and spoken at Social Media World.


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  • Elena says:

    You’re so right! I have to have my morning coffee (or two), but I will try to make it a point to increase my daily water intake, too. It’s only going to get worse this summer.

  • Nicky says:

    Great blog, yes! Thank you for sharing here.

  • Amaranthian says:

    That’s interesting. I knew caffeine dehydrated you, but I never considered that the dehydration would almost negate the stimulant effect of the caffeine. I already drink water obsessively, but I can’t wait to tell others about this. Thanks!

  • Grace Kelly says:

    Great blog, thank you for sharing, still get lots of comfort and pleasure from my morning latte but I make sure to drink lots of water too!
    Gratitude, Grace

  • Perfecting timing! I’m sitting here debating whether to go back to bed or make another pot of coffee. If I make the coffee though, will I be clear-headed enough to operate or a caffeine-jacked zombie?

    Going to pour myself a glass of water just as soon as I get the energy to get outta my comfy home office chair … LOL

  • Janna says:

    Thank you for the information! I just had coffee, so I will go drink a water now 🙂

  • Tammy says:

    Great advice…I was doing really well drinking my water…I still do drink some but nothing like I was drinking. Change in season I guess.

  • Anne Galivan says:

    Everyone should drink at least one glass of water (preferably purified) on rising. Your body needs it and if you don’t drink water when you first get up you are less likely to become habituated to getting enough water throughout the day.

    I have battled adrenal fatigue for over ten years and because of that I have to take a multitude of supplements on rising. The benefit of that is that it involves imbibing at least 24 oz. of water within the first hour of my day so it gets me off to a good start. I have caffeine only once a day, in the afternoon, and other than that and water usually the only other beverage I have during the day is a glass of milk before bed.

    Also, it’s much better to get your caffeine through coffee or tea. Soda is harmful in so many ways it should never be a daily habit.

  • Leslie Limon says:

    Now that the weather has warmed up considerably, I will be drinking more water. For some reason, I can’t stand to drink water in the winter.

    Thanks for the great post!

  • Megan says:

    My caffeine “addiction” was curbed by kidney stone issues… Good times! LOL. 🙂

  • ElizOF says:

    I can understand how this happens; the cycle of caffeine and sugar giving us an up and then a down and then we drink some more… Very interesting! 🙂