Can You Drink Too Much Coffee?

by Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie

Every now and again I like to test the limits of things. I'm a person of extremes: I don't want a strawberry, I want a carton of strawberries. I don't want to watch Harry Potter, I want to watch all eight movies in one day. So for me, it's important to know what things are OK to binge on, and what things might actually hurt me. So I've taken it upon myself to research a very important question so you don't have to: Can you drink too much coffee? You probably already have a pretty good idea of what the answer to this question is, but in case you've been curious about some of the details... well, here you go. Let's take a look at the nuances, shall we?

The Answer:

Of course you can drink too much coffee. You didn't really expect me to say that it's impossible to OD on coffee, did you? Caffeine is a drug, and like any drug (or anything, really) too much of it is bad for you. I once had a doctor tell me that literally anything in an extreme quantity can kill you: Water, vitamins, sunlight. Sure, it was a weird thing for a pediatrician to say to a young girl prone to hypochondria, but it's interesting nonetheless. So in short, yes, you can definitely drink too much coffee.

How Much Is Too Much?

This is where it gets tricky. A lot of experts agree that people who drink 500 to 600 milligrams (or more) of caffeine a day are drinking too much. That's about five cups of coffee. Another study found that more than 28 cups of coffee a week is too much, which comes out to a roughly similar number: No more than four cups of coffee a day is healthy.

So, What Happens If You Drink Too Much of It?

1. Insomnia

This makes sense, since caffeine is a stimulant. People who overdo it on the coffee tend to have a hard time sleeping.

2. Rapid Heartbeat

Too much caffeine can overstimulate your heartbeat — which, as you can imagine, is kind of dangerous.

3. Anxiety

Caffeine has been linked to increased anxiety and hostility in psychiatric patients.

4. Dehydration

It's weird because it's made with water, but caffeine actually dehydrates you.

5. Stomach Issues

It's shockingly common to experience tummy problems (or even ulcers) when you drink too much coffee, because it's such an acidic drink.

And of course, you might just experience good old-fashioned jitters if you drink too much coffee. No one likes that feeling of not being able to sit still, and it's not good for you either: You feel jittery when your body is reacting to spiked levels of adrenaline, because it's treating the excess caffeine like stress. This all sounds scary, but as long as you stick to four cups a day or fewer, you're totally in the clear.

There. Mystery solved.

Images: Sacha Fernandez/ Flickr; Giphy (5)