Caffeine Risks and Side Effects

It's no wonder we're concerned about potential caffeine risks and side effects for ourselves and our families, living as we do in a world where coffee houses, tea shops, and caffeinated energy and soft drinks abound!

Even though caffeine can provide many benefits, caffeine can come with possible side effects and risks, too.

Whether you're an avid black tea drinker, an occasional coffee drinker, or depend on energy drinks and chocolate bars to get you through your day, it's important to stay informed about how caffeine may be affecting your body and mind.

Here are some potential caffeine risks and side effects to be aware of... 

Lying awake at night? Caffeine may be the culprit

Many of us depend on caffeine to help us stay alert, awake, and focused during exam time, when we're burning the midnight oil to finish up an important project at work, or even just to manage our busy, busy days!

But, too much caffeine in your system too close to bedtime can lead to insomnia, meaning you'll have trouble falling asleep and may wake every so often through the night.

Caffeine Risks and Side Effects

To encourage a full, recuperative, good night's sleep, try to avoid caffeine within at least four or five hours of bedtime (this gives the caffeine time to leave your system).

And, why not sip some caffeine-free chamomile tea in the early evening? This herbal tea is well-known for encouraging a sound, dream-free sleep, and you'll wake feeling well rested, refreshed, and ready for the day ahead.

Other common caffeine risks and side effects

Insomnia isn't the only potential side effect of too much caffeine. 

If you've 'overindulged' in caffeinated drinks or other sources of caffeine, you may end up experiencing one or more of the following physical, mental, and emotional symptoms:

  • feeling fidgety, anxious, nervous, or especially cross
  • heart palpitations or racing heart
  • higher blood pressure
  • tummy troubles, like nausea or vomiting
  • more frequent urination
  • jittery hands and feet
  • headache or migraine

New to caffeine?

If you're completely new to caffeine or don't consume it regularly, please avoid extremely high amounts all at once. Research indicates that energy drinks, for example, can cause alarming increases in blood pressure levels (especially for those who don't consume caffeine regularly), which can increase the possibility of cardiovascular problems.

Of course, these symptoms can be connected to something other than caffeine, but if you've just had a caffeinated drink after a few days or weeks without caffeine, or if you've had quite a bit more caffeine than usual today, you may end up experiencing some of these caffeine risks or side effects.

Watch for extra calories and sugar in your caffeinated drinks

If you do enjoy caffeine and the boost it gives your mood and energy level, watch out for extra calories and sugar that may be sneaking into your diet in high-calorie, sweet, caffeinated drinks (like energy drinks, specialty coffees or teas, or soft drinks).

Consider other low- or no-calorie, sugar-free ways to enjoy your caffeine, like a tasty cup of oolong, yerba mate, or green tea. 

Caffeine Risks and Side Effects

Or, to cut back on caffeine, as well, try a caffeine-free herbal tea, like cinnamon or Rooibos, for energy and satisfying flavor without the caffeine.

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Too much caffeine can have other caffeine risks and side effects... Keep reading here to learn more about how high levels of caffeine can affect our bodies and minds.

In our full, stressful, demanding lives, we've come to depend on caffeine to help us maximize our performance and fit as much into our busy days as we can.

While caffeine in moderation can provide some physical and mental benefits, too much caffeine can lead to a variety of troubling symptoms, like anxiety, headaches, restlessness, irritability, and insomnia.

Caffeine Risks vs. Caffeine Benefits

Although caffeine does have some possible risks, side effects, and even contraindications, it can be good for us, too, in moderate amounts. Learn more about Caffeine Benefits here.

Why not try...

  • If you're an avid coffee drinker but are concerned about the amount of caffeine you're consuming, why not replace one or two of your daily coffee drinks with a delicious spicy herbal tea, such as cinnamon or ginger? Or a tea latte (try chai or oolong) is just as flavorful and tasty as an espresso latte - with less caffeine!

More about Caffeine

Caffeine Facts - All about caffeine! What it is, how much caffeine is in your favorite tea, information about safe amounts of caffeine, and much more.

Caffeine Benefits - We hear so much about the potential risks of caffeine, but caffeine can be good for us in many ways, too! Learn more on our Caffeine Benefits pages.

Caffeine Risks - Some of the ways high levels of caffeine can affect us physically and mentally, and some contraindications for excessive caffeine use, too.


Clauson,  K.A., Shields, K.M., McQueen, C.E., and Persad, N. Safety issues associated with commercially available energy drinks. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2008 May-Jun; 48(3): e55-63; quiz e64-7. DOI: 10.1331/JAPhA.2008.07055. 

Higgins, J.P., Tuttle, T.D., and Higgins, C.L. Energy beverages: content and safety. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 85.11 (2010), 1033-1041. PMC. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. 

Klein, T. Energy drinks raise resting blood pressure, dramatic in those not used to caffeine. Mayo Clinic News Network.

Vlachopoulos, C., Hirata, K., Stefanadis, C., Toutouzas, P., and O'Rourke, M.F. Caffeine increases aortic stiffness in hypertensive patients. American Journal of Hypertension Jan 2003, 16 (1) 63-66. 

Winston, A.P., Hardwick, E., and Jaberi, N. Neuropsychiatric effects of caffeine. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment Nov 2005, 11 (6) 432-439; DOI: 10.1192/1pt.11.6.432. 

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