Many people rely on a daily dose of caffeine to get their day started, but according to the Mayo Clinic, there are risks associated with drinking too much coffee too often.
When used in moderation, caffeine is prized for its ability to help people stay alert. Once the intake surpasses about 400 milligrams, about four cups of brewed coffee, however, users might experience more harm than good.
Side effects of excessive use can include headaches, irritability, nervousness, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, upset stomach, and more depending on the person. Some people can be more sensitive to the effects as well, and these symptoms might present themselves with even light or moderate consumption. Likewise, a sudden increase in the amount consumed can cause harmful effects even in people that haven’t noticed any problems in the past. Interactions with certain drugs, like ephedrine or echinacea, can increase the effects of caffeine and lead to more severe health risks like heart attack, seizure, or stroke.
Despite the fact that caffeine is often used to help wake people up in the morning, it can also work against a tired individual by disrupting their sleep cycle. Excess consumption, or consuming caffeine late in the day, can delay sleep or limit its therapeutic value. Repeating this cycle for long enough can result in a cumulative sleep debt that starts to cause issues with daytime alertness and focus. Limiting consumption to the morning hours is one of the best ways to help avoid this problem.
Experts say that even the worst side effects of caffeine aren’t typically life-threatening, but according to USA Today, it is possible to have too much. It is estimated that a lethal dose of caffeine could be found in somewhere between 50 and 100 cups of coffee, depending on weight, so it is unlikely for a coffee drinker to be in any real danger. If a person is consuming the raw, powdered form of caffeine, however, then as little as a teaspoon could kill.