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But how does coffee keep us awake? Know the science

But how does coffee keep us awake? Know the science

By Shivam Published 6 months ago 3 min read
But how does coffee keep us awake? Know the science
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

We all have sipped coffee at least once in our lives; chances are that most of us drink it every day. From waking up to working out to sitting relaxed in the lap of the evening, we all embrace it often. But do we know how it does what it does? Now, you might wonder why I should know how coffee works or works not. Well, it is because the way it works is amazing. Not only does knowing make us better drinkers, but it also helps us understand how deep human life is. So, let’s dive into a cup of coffee and explore its depth.

The science behind how coffee works

Should I tell you that we all have different hormones in our bodies that make us function in different ways? When a person gets dead-angry that he could take his phone and throw it at the face of someone before him, it is the rush of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. When our eyes sparkle with love at the mere sight of our beloved, when the air turns sweetly light and sweetly cold, it is because of hormones such as oxytocin. And when we get drowsy during the day, it is because of the buildup of a hormone called adenosine.

Hormones are nothing but chemicals present in our bodies that act as messengers. So, when we see a tiger before us, the adrenal medulla (a part of our brain) releases the adrenalin hormone, which sends the message that something life-threatening is before us and we must act.

There are primarily two hormones that lead to sleep:

• Melatonin

• Adenosine

Melatonin is released by the pineal gland when we are already sleeping; this helps in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. It is typically released in response to darkness and helps to promote sleepiness. Adenosine, on the other hand, is a chemical in the brain that promotes sleep and suppresses arousal. It gets accumulated throughout the day and leads our body to a state where we feel like sleeping.

Caffeine works by blocking the action of adenosine, a chemical in the brain that promotes sleep and suppresses arousal. This leads to increased neural activity, increased heart rate, and increased alertness. No wonder you feel like jumping up a mile and touching the airplane flying from New York to New Delhi.

However, know that as you keep on drinking coffee, your body falls into a state of resistance. This means you have to drink more coffee to get the same kick.

Why does caffeine resistance occur?

There is a thing called neuroadaptation - Caffeine resistance occurs due to just this. Neuroadaptation is the process by which the brain adapts to the constant presence of caffeine. When we consume caffeine, it blocks the action of adenosine; as a result, caffeine increases brain activity and alertness. However, over time, the brain becomes less responsive to caffeine due to a reduction in the number of adenosine receptors. This means that more caffeine is required to achieve the same effects.

• Adenosine hormones build up and bind to adenosine receptors; making us feel sleepy.

• Caffeine comes in and blocks these receptors. This means that adenosine cannot send the I-feel-sleepy signal.

• Over time, the brain reduces the number of these receptors. This means caffeine does not have enough receptors to bind to.

• We drink more coffee to compensate for this effect.

Additionally, the brain can also develop a tolerance to caffeine by increasing the production of enzymes that metabolize caffeine, making it less effective. These changes in the brain lead to caffeine resistance and the need for higher doses of caffeine to achieve the same effects.

Is not the human body an amazing mechanism? So, the next time you buy coffee or caffeine tablets - which you may easily buy from eBay alternatives that sell quality health and beauty products at a fair price – make sure you remember this all while enjoying your cup.

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