Coffee Jitters: What is it & 6 Better Ways to Boost Energy

April, 18, 2023

Coffee Jitters: What is it & 6 Better Ways to Boost Energy

Coffee jitters are a set of undesirable side effects that can occur from consuming too much caffeine, a natural stimulant present in coffee. The jitters aren’t limited to coffee - you can experience similar symptoms when consuming too much caffeine from any source, including tea, energy drinks, caffeine supplements, and soda.

Coffee jitters occur when the amount of caffeine in the bloodstream outpaces the body’s ability to process it, leading to unpleasant side effects. Caffeine works by blocking a molecule called adenosine from attaching to receptors in the brain and heart. When caffeine isn’t present, adenosine attaches to these receptors and causes the central nervous system to slow down, leading to drowsiness. Caffeine prevents this interaction and acts oppositely, ramping up the central nervous system and causing you to feel more alert.

You can start to feel the effects of caffeine as early as 15 minutes after your first sip, with caffeine levels in the blood reaching their highest levels after about an hour. It can take anywhere from 4 to 10 hours for your body to metabolize all the caffeine you consume.

5 tips for getting rid of coffee jitters

Tip #1: Wait it out

Coffee jitters will go away naturally once your body has time to metabolize the caffeine. The amount of time this will take will vary for each person.

According to the FDA, most people will be able to metabolize half the amount of caffeine they drink within 4 to 6 hours. (1) For some people, the Cleveland Clinic advises that it may take up to 10 hours for 100% of caffeine to be cleared from the body. (2)

Tip #2: Eat a meal or snack

Caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream much more quickly when there isn’t anything else in the stomach to dilute it, so eating a small meal or snack as soon as you start to notice the jitters may help.

A small, balanced snack or meal such as a sandwich, oatmeal with nuts, or apple slices with peanut butter can help as they typically contain a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, which work together to slow digestion in a helpful way.

Tip #3: Set your coffee cup aside

This may go without saying, but put the coffee down if you’re feeling jittery! Drinking more caffeine will only make your symptoms worse. Try making less coffee at a time if the amount you usually drink is causing physical problems.

Tip #4: Hydrate

Caffeine can act as a diuretic, prompting your body to release fluids and potentially become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water.

While water may not actually help flush caffeine out of the body, dehydration can make symptoms like headaches or an elevated heart rate worse. Drink a large glass of water and continue drinking water consistently throughout the rest of the day to ease these symptoms and keep yourself properly hydrated.

Tip #5: Use relaxation techniques

Taking a few minutes to relax can help slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and reduce anxiety levels. Try taking a warm bath, using aromatherapy, taking slow deep breaths, or reading a book to feel more at ease.

Risks of consuming too much caffeine

CALLOUT: “According to the National Library of Medicine, 400 milligrams of caffeine (about three 8 ounce cups of coffee) per day is considered a safe amount for most people.”

While a moderate amount of caffeine can help you feel more alert (and friendly!) in the morning, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. According to the National Library of Medicine, 400 milligrams of caffeine (about three 8 ounce cups of coffee) per day is considered a safe amount for most people. (3)

Keep in mind that this is the average amount deemed safe for the entire population; some people may be more sensitive to caffeine than others and will need to consume less than 400 milligrams per day. These differences are impacted by many factors, including genetics, gender, and smoking status, to name a few.

Too much caffeine can negatively impact the body in many ways. Symptoms can include: 

  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
  • Shakiness, jitteriness, or trembling
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Worsened feelings of anxiety
  • Insomnia and poor sleep quality
  • Altered digestion of certain nutrients
  • Nervousness
  • Headaches (4)

6 alternative ways to get energy without the coffee jitters

Choose a coffee alternative

Don’t want to give up caffeine altogether? No problem! Simply choosing beverages with less caffeine can prevent coffee jitters. Consider other beverages like black tea, green tea, or coffee alternatives made from mushrooms or chicory root.

Ethan’s Clean Energy Shots are another great coffee alternative. Each energy shot provides only 150 milligrams of caffeine, less than you would find in two cups of coffee. They also contain lion’s mane and cordyceps mushrooms, two functional adaptogens that may help the body adapt and respond better to stress.

Get moving

You may assume that coffee is the best thing to help you power through that mid-afternoon slump, but standing up and getting in a few minutes of movement may be just as effective. 

Even brief bouts of physical activity can improve circulation and oxygen flow to the brain, so try marching in place, stretching, walking around your house or office, body-weight squats, or a few minutes of yoga every hour or so. Even getting up to make a cup of tea or to refill your water bottle can give you a small boost of energy and mental clarity.

Reduce your caffeine intake

Since coffee jitters result from drinking too much caffeine, one of the most effective ways to prevent them is to reduce how much caffeine you drink in the first place. Avoid going cold turkey, however, as this can lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. According to registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, people should “reduce caffeine gradually to avoid fatigue and side effects such as headaches.”

Strategies for drinking less caffeine include:

  • Drinking a smaller volume of coffee overall
  • Switching to “half caff” (half regular coffee, half decaf)
  • Switching to a lower caffeine coffee bean varietal, such as Arabica Laurina
  • Adding your favorite milk of choice (helpful if you love big mugs of coffee but want to dilute the caffeine)

If you tend to drink a lot of coffee in the morning and none the rest of the day, waiting until the afternoon to have one of those cups of coffee may also help. 

Drink coffee after eating

Having something in your stomach prior to your morning or afternoon coffee can slow down how quickly your body absorbs the caffeine since your digestive system will be busy digesting other nutrients at the same time. 

However, it isn’t advised to drink coffee too close to mealtimes. Coffee can interfere with the absorption of micronutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and iron, so wait at least an hour after eating before enjoying your first mug. (4)

Eat healthy, balanced meals

A healthy diet is incredibly important for maintaining normal energy levels throughout the day. Think about food as fuel for your body - eating haphazardly throughout the day or not providing your body with the nutrients it needs can leave you feeling fatigued and sluggish.

Including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fats at most meals can help optimize your energy levels, as can limiting adding sugars and sweets. Sugary foods and drinks can give you a quick boost, but may leave you feeling even more sluggish afterwards once your blood sugar levels quickly drop back down.

Prioritize good quality sleep

Almost everyone has experienced the negative impact a poor night’s sleep can have on your energy and productivity the next day. According to the National Institutes of Health, not getting enough good quality sleep can:

  • Make you hungrier during the day and more likely to eat sweets and salty, fatty foods, which themselves can contribute to poor energy levels if crowding out healthier foods from the diet
  • Weaken your immune system
  • Cause difficulty paying attention and thinking clearly (5)

Fortunately, building better sleep habits doesn’t have to be complicated. Try the following tips and see which work best for you:

  • Limiting screen use around bedtime
  • Avoiding caffeine in the late afternoon and evening
  • Listening to recordings of white noise, ocean waves, or rain showers while falling asleep
  • Taking a warm bath or reading before bed
  • Speaking with your doctor if poor sleep quality persists

Lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, and sleep may be some of the most effective ways to improve energy levels naturally. Dr. Greg Marcus at the University of California, San Francisco advises that the “overall most healthy strategies to boost alertness are long-term healthy habits.”

Final takeaway

Caffeine can be a helpful tool for temporarily boosting energy and performance at work or during exercise, but consuming too much can cause unpleasant physical and mental side effects. 

Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies for preventing these symptoms while boosting your energy levels in a healthful way. Some people may be able to tolerate more caffeine than others, so it’s important to find which strategies work the best for you.

Ready to switch up your caffeine routine? Try Ethan’s Clean Energy Shots or add Ethan’s Clean Energy Drink Mix to a glass of water for a boost of clean energy and hydration.


It’s impossible to say with certainty exactly how long it will take for caffeine jitters to wear off, since there are many individual factors like metabolic rate, genetic makeup, smoking, oral contraceptive use, and gender that can impact the body’s ability to process caffeine.

Caffeine jitters should wear off within 4-6 hours for most people, but could take up to 10 hours for some.

Authored By

Stephanie Wells

Stephanie is a registered dietitian and freelance writer specializing in vegan and plant-based nutrition. She is passionate about nutrition education and loves helping people live healthy, sustainable lifestyles powered by plants!

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