Monday morning rolls around and it’s tough. Even after two full days to laze around and rejuvenate yourself – that early morning alarm kills. So you do what you always do, press dismiss, grit your teeth and reach for that cup of joe.
Caffeine is a vital part of coffee and is one the main reasons that people drink it so often and in such large quantities. Have you ever wondered how it stops you from being sleepy and why you need to keep drinking it to feel its effect?
The human brain consists of a variety of chemical reactions to keep it and you going throughout the day. It does this through a bunch of different chemicals. These molecules need to bind to their assigned receptors in order to work. Adenosine – a neuromodulator that helps you relax and wind down- builds up in quantity throughout the day which is why you (hopefully) wake up feeling refreshed and are ready to be tucked into bed by late.
Caffeine however is a sneaky one. It is the same shape and size as adenosine and so when it enters the mix they compete. Caffeine binds to the same receptors which therefore blocks adenosine’s effects, stimulates your nerve cells and stops you from feeling tired.
There is a catch though with long term caffeine use, your brain cottons on and creates more adenosine receptors to combat it – meaning you have to have more caffeine in order to keep the sleepiness away.
Caffeine also has a half life of six hours inside your body which means after six hours it has half the effect that it did initially which is another reason why you need to keep having more throughout the day to keep you awake.
So now you know what is going on in your brain and why you feel so alert as you sip on your morning brew.