wellness·3 min read

Here’s the Truth on How Long Caffeine Stays in Your System

A woman with long brown hair and a brown t shirt pouring a cup of coffee
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
Jul 6, 2022

Coffee, energy drinks, tea…there are many ways to get your caffeine fix. The real art is knowing how long the caffeine-high will actually last. And when your cut-off time should be, depending when you want to fall asleep. That’s where we come in. We broke down exactly how long caffeine stays in your system — so you can plan your day (and naps) accordingly.

Let’s start at the beginning. How long does caffeine take to kick in?

Some people can feel perked up by caffeine as soon as 15 minutes after consuming it. (Which happens to be almost the perfect amount of time for a coffee nap). And the caffeine’s effects will peak after about an hour. 

But those who have a high tolerance for caffeine (cough, us, cough) might not feel the energy boost quite as soon — or as intensely. Meaning if you’ve built up a tolerance, you’ll need to consume more caffeine to feel its effects. If that sounds like you, keep in mind that 400 mg of caffeine (about four cups of coffee) is the general recommended daily limit

Got it. So how long does caffeine last in your system?

While the effects of caffeine might only last five to six hours, it can take a full 10 hours for all the caffeine of one cup of coffee (eight ounces) to completely leave your system. 

But how long caffeine lasts also depends on your personal caffeine tolerance and genetics. Which is why the Lorelai Gilmores of the world need to drink more coffee than those who rarely consume it to continue feeling the effects. 

How long does it take caffeine to wear off so I can get some sleep?

To make sure you catch those quality Zs, avoid drinking any caffeinated drinks six hours before bed— and limit your total caffeine intake to the equivalent of four cups of coffee a day max. But even once you do fall asleep, that remaining caffeine in your system could still disrupt the quality of your sleep.

How can I get caffeine out of my system faster?

So you had a cup of coffee after 4 pm, now it’s 10 pm, and you’re wide awake? Been there. Here’s the bad news: You really can’t “get rid” of caffeine once it’s in your system. You just have to wait it out. But there are ways you can mitigate symptoms of over-caffeination. See: Hydration for caffeine headaches and exercise for any jitters. And while you’re doing jumping jacks, it might be an opportunity to examine your sleep hygiene

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We’re not here to tell you to give up what brings you joy. But if you drink caffeine too late in the day, your sleep might be affected. So if you find yourself staring at the ceiling at night, your mid-afternoon Starbucks run might be to blame. Just saying.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute a medical opinion, medical advice, or diagnosis or treatment of any particular condition. 


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