Why doesn't caffeine affect me?
January 18, 2006 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Caffeine doesn't seem to affect me, at all. Is this unusual?

I don't take in a ton of caffeine, but I probably take in more than I think since I simply don't keep track. I can drink Diet Cokes all day and not feel the effects of caffeine, I can have coffee or tea (or Coke or espresso) right before bed and not have trouble getting to sleep.

Caffeine withdrawl is unknown to me.

Is this unusual? What does it mean?
posted by o2b to Health & Fitness (30 answers total)
I'm the same way. I see it as a blessing.

I love my morning coffee, but for me it's all about the experience and taste. I can go without coffee without any side effects, and without missing it. I don't think it means much.

I also know a few part-time smokers. They'll smoke around certain friends, smoke constantly for a week, and then not smoke for months without any trouble.
posted by bondcliff at 11:39 AM on January 18, 2006

Caffeine makes me sleepy. That is, it'll give me a bit of a buzz for about fifteen minutes (a rather milder one than most people seem to get) and then I want to go lie down and have a nap. So, yeah, people vary. I do get a splitting headache if I've habitually been drinking stuff with caffeine in it and stop suddenly, however a couple ibuprofen deals with this and it doesn't come back.
posted by kindall at 11:47 AM on January 18, 2006

i'm the same. if anything, a sugary coffee make me feel tired rather than alert.

i expect it has something to do with the caffeine you drink being quickly metabolised by your liver and excreted before it has a chance to have an effect.
posted by tnai at 11:49 AM on January 18, 2006

Caffeine has a calming affect on those with ADHD, apparently. Here are some anecdotes
posted by duckstab at 11:56 AM on January 18, 2006

I'm also fairly insensitive. I can have a cup of coffee or two and then get a good night's sleep, for instance.

I normally have a fairly high intake, but go without on occasion. Missing coffee makes me a bit groggier in the mornings, but that's about it.
posted by bonehead at 11:58 AM on January 18, 2006

I hope it's not unusual. It doesn't affect me either. Like bondcliff says, I think it's a positive thing. It means you don't suffer from withdrawal, don't have to worry about drinking caffeine too close to bedtime, and don't experience the general ups and downs that come with it.
posted by TunnelArmr at 12:00 PM on January 18, 2006

I'm one more with this "problem." I can drink a few cups of coffee and go to sleep. I don't think it's the caffeine that makes me sleepy, though; I suspect it's having a warm drink that does it.

Sometimes I wish caffeine could wake me up. In college I resorted to binging on sugar when I needed to stay awake, which usually had the side-effect of a huge sugar crash a while later.
posted by landtuna at 12:04 PM on January 18, 2006

Coffee and hot tea both make me feel sleepy, and I think it's for the hot drink reason landtuna stated.

I do have the adverse side effects of headaches on withdrawal and sometimes a hollow jittery feeling when over-caffeinated (but it's not a wakeful feeling, i can go right to sleep feeling this way, in fact I generally prefer to when it happens).
posted by birdie birdington at 12:26 PM on January 18, 2006

Just wait. I was that way in my (long, long ago) youth, too, but I only recently "cured" an otherwise inexplicable case of insomnia by not drinking coffee after 4 PM. Others I've talked to have reported the same experience. Enjoy it while you can.
posted by redheadeb at 12:27 PM on January 18, 2006

This is interesting, I didn't know it was so common.

I see it mostly as a blessing, but every once in a while I wish I could give myself a boost when I'm feeling run down (sugar doesn't do it for me either).
posted by o2b at 12:43 PM on January 18, 2006

Rarely, if ever, do I notice anything with caffeinated sodas. However, if I have some variety of a coffee drink on an empty stomach I get the "jitters."
posted by blueplasticfish at 12:59 PM on January 18, 2006

Me neither. I've never experienced any particular buzz from coffee and it doesn't stop me sleeping if I drink it at night. I'm the same way with cannabis. Doesn't affect me at all. To which I can only add, "dammit".
posted by Decani at 1:03 PM on January 18, 2006

Caffine seems to have little to no effect on me either.

However I know there is (or was) some effect, because when I was a child, one Easter I ate all my eggs on one day (which was quite a few - possibly more chocolate than the rest of the year combined if you don't count Christmas), and as I lay awake in bed later that night, I realised that I wasn't normally awake at this hour and yet I didn't feel very sleepy.

If I've pulled an all-nighter, and so are suffering sleep deprivation during the day, I sometimes seek a caffine hit via coffe to try to keep me awake, but even drinking enough coffee to make my stomach feel ill, any stimulant effects don't seem to last longer than 15 minutes.

I've never been a coffee drinker.

In posibly related news, the pre-op sedative pills they gave me before an operation seemed to have no effect either.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:11 PM on January 18, 2006

A doctor told me that caffine does not act as a stimulant. What it does is maintain an excited state. So if you take caffine but remain mellow you will not experience the effects. On the other hand if you take it in an excited state it will be harder to come down.
posted by blueyellow at 1:26 PM on January 18, 2006

A doctor told me that caffine does not act as a stimulant.

He/she was wrong. Caffeine most definitely is a stimulant, and I can personally attest to that. If it weren't, why would so many people drink it in the morning when they haven't had enough sleep?
posted by cerebus19 at 1:31 PM on January 18, 2006

Does anyone who finds caffeine ineffective also smoke? Caffeine and nicotine (among many drugs) are both metabolized by the same enzyme in the liver, CYP1A2. Both also induce this enzyme, so in order to get the effects of caffeine if you're a smoker, you may just need to take more of it in due to the rate at which your liver is processing it. For people who don't smoke, maybe they just have naturally high levels of CYP1A2? There are people who are just CYP1A2 ultrapid metabolizers.
posted by flying kumquat at 1:34 PM on January 18, 2006

kumquat -- that would explain why smokers I've known seem to drink more coffee than humanly possible. Always wondered about that connection.
posted by junkbox at 1:42 PM on January 18, 2006

I'm sure that are many, complicated reasons why caffeine affects some people more-strongly than others. But I'd be interested to know the age of the "it doesn't affect me" people.

When I was in my teens and early 20s, it had no affect on me, and I couldn't see what the big deal was. Then at about 25, I discovered that I couldn't sleep at night if I had tea before bed.

Now I'm 40, and it's really bad. If I have a cup of coffee after about noon, I'll be up all night. If I have more than two cups of coffee any time during the day, I start to feel the shakes.

I'm expecting that when I turn 50, I'll go bonkers if I just look at coffee.
posted by grumblebee at 1:43 PM on January 18, 2006

Seconding redheadeb and grumblebee. I used to drink as much coffee as I wanted -- and I wanted to and did drink a lot -- right up 'til bedtime with no effect on my sleeping. Starting when I was about 25, I couldn't have it after about 4 p.m without being up and wired and totallyfuckingcrazygottasleepgottasleepgottasleep all night long.
posted by donpedro at 1:48 PM on January 18, 2006

grumblebee - I'm 29.
posted by landtuna at 1:57 PM on January 18, 2006

32, non-smoker
posted by o2b at 2:01 PM on January 18, 2006

30, non-smoker
posted by -harlequin- at 2:05 PM on January 18, 2006

It used to not affect me, either. Then I stopped all caffeine intake for about 60 days. Then, I had half a can of coke and was up for a freaking week. I now avoid the stuff like the plague.
posted by Manhasset at 3:13 PM on January 18, 2006

It also depends on your state of mind and what exactly you drink, I think. Tea can make me a little jittery. Most coffee makes me feel sort of less groggy, more alert, but I don't get withdrawal headaches, and I rarely feel really "caffeinated" with coffee - it's more subtle and I would say it's positive - usually makes my mood better. I don't generally drink soda but don't remember it affecting me. But I would bet these things fluctuate depending on endless other factors, including diet, exercise, regularity of use, mood, stress level, etc.

I also know a few part-time smokers. They'll smoke around certain friends, smoke constantly for a week, and then not smoke for months without any trouble.

my sister, my half brother & I all had this special power, and my dad (who hates smoking) says his mother used to have one cigarette after dinner when he was a kid. I haven't smoked in years now, but I never officially quit; just haven't bothered in a long time.
posted by mdn at 4:19 PM on January 18, 2006

24, non-smoker, non-drinker: I rarely drink tea and never coffee and only occasionally indulge in a dark cola (Sprite's my soda of choice), and I've never really experienced any sort of caffeine effect.
posted by lychee at 4:31 PM on January 18, 2006

I'm 37.
posted by kindall at 4:42 PM on January 18, 2006

35, and caffeine helps me sleep. On a bad night, I can sit and drink a pot of coffee and literally pass out 10 minutes later.
posted by bradth27 at 5:36 PM on January 18, 2006

The phenomenon you describe is not unusual at all. It's related to me frequently.

In fact, I hear about it so much that I'm half-convinced it's specious. If it were a true phenomenon, it'd be much quieter.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:09 PM on January 18, 2006

Not unusual, it's the same for me. I drink a couple litres (yes, litres) of diet Coke a day and the caffeine has no effect. I also lack withdrawal symptoms when I don't drink soda for a couple days. I drink a lot of ice tea during the summer and again - no buzz.

posted by deborah at 8:38 PM on January 18, 2006

Grumblebee - I'm 46 and a non-smoker.
posted by Decani at 10:49 AM on January 20, 2006

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