With coffee consumption, there is a very fine line between “comfortably caffeinated and awake” and “riding this skin bag straight into hell.” Exactly how coffee will affect you can be somewhat unpredictable — maybe you’re used to three cups a day but trying out a fourth ends up being a huge mistake, or you forgot to eat breakfast that morning or it turns out you’re drinking a double-strength cold brew when you’re used to Maxwell House. Whatever the cause, being over-caffeinated is straight up uncomfortable. Is there anything you can do, then, to calm down?
Like overdoing it with most other recreational substances, time is going to make the biggest impact. That can be both a comfort and a curse: The feeling will go away, but it might not happen as soon as you want. Caffeine levels peak around 15 to 45 minutes after drinking it, and decrease as the body metabolizes it. Exactly how quickly this happens varies from person to person, but you should notice some relief within an hour or two after feeling your worst.
There are still a few things you can do to help speed things up, though. Drinking a lot of water may help flush the caffeine out of your system faster, but it will also help you stay hydrated and feel more human. Like alcohol, coffee will generally begin to be processed as soon as it hits your stomach lining. While there aren’t really any ways of reversing that once it’s happened, drinking water and adding some volume to your stomach by eating will make the overall process more uncomfortable.
When you’re really crawling out of your skin, exercise might be the fix. Going for a walk will at least help you distract yourself until the buzz passes, and going for a run or otherwise getting some cardio will help you burn up some of that icky energy.
Death Wish Coffee, the makers of the “world’s strongest coffee,” with twice the caffeine of the average variety, recommend consuming some vitamin C to help neutralize the jitters. There’s not a ton of evidence to support this, though some studies suggest drinking coffee could deplete some of your vitamins and minerals. Regardless, eating an orange is almost never a bad idea.
If you’ve consumed so much coffee that you’re actually physically sick, you’ll want to take extra care. Coffee can cause diarrhea, for which you’ll need to ensure that you’re properly rehydrating and restoring your electrolytes. In the event you start vomiting or experiencing heart palpitations, you should call a medical professional. It is indeed possible to overdose on caffeine.
In the future, keep your caffeine consumption below 400 milligrams per day. For reference, the average cup has 100 milligrams. Some people can safely build their tolerance above this limit, but you’ll want to do so very slowly in order to avoid any of those adverse effects. Of course, you could just quit drinking coffee entirely, but let’s be honest, that’s probably never going to happen.