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What You've Heard About Caffeine Is Wrong

Everyone says to avoid caffeine. Voice teachers, voice therapists, music teachers… when studies are done on hydration, participants are instructed to eliminate caffeine from their diets so it doesn’t impact the study results. And yet. Studies on whether or not caffeine actually impacts singing are inconclusive. These studies often use an instrumental measure, phonation threshold pressure (PTP) and a proprioceptive measure, perceived phonatory effort (PPE). The first measures how much pressure is required in order to blow the vocal folds apart to produce voice and the second is how much effort it feels like voicing requires. We know that vocal folds must be hydrated to function efficiently, and we know that caffeine is a diuretic and is therefore dehydrating, but studies aren’t reliably showing that there is a difference in PTP nor PPE before and after having caffeine. Three hundred milligrams of caffeine seems to be a threshold for starting to have a drying sensation for the vocal folds, but the average cup of coffee only has 112 mg of caffeine. Another study seemed to find that those who consume caffeine on a regular basis notice drying effects even less.

So when you’re looking for reasons to beat yourself about why your voice sounds the way it does today, let yourself off the hook for that cuppa joe.

AND ALSO: (there’s always a caveat, isn’t there?) Caffeine DOES contribute to symptoms of acid reflux. Get your low acid coffee here.

And if you have a hard time sleeping, caffeine only contributes to this. Cut down on the coffee if your body needs rest.

Do you feel a difference when you drink caffeine before you sing?


Hartley, N. A., & Thibeault, S. L. (2014). Systemic Hydration: Relating Science to Clinical Practice in Vocal Health. Journal of Voice : Official Journal of the Voice Foundation, 28(5), 652.e1–652.e20.


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