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Caffeine – The Most Used Drug

January 25, 2024

You drink coffee regularly don’t you?

While it tastes good, most people consume coffee for the caffeine, but what actually is caffeine?

Caffeine is a stimulant present in various plants, and is most commonly ingested through coffee beans.

It affects the nervous system by blocking the action of adenosine, a neurotransmitter, resulting in a stimulant effect on the body.

 

You may be asking yourself how it has a stimulant effect?

When caffeine is consumed in any form, it stimulates the brain to increase the release of neurochemicals, including the well known dopamine.

These neurochemicals enhance focus, alertness, overall wellbeing, and physical performance.

Unlike conventional dopamine pathways linked to addiction and a sense of reward, caffeine triggers dopamine release in brain regions associated with alertness and cognition, therefore resulting in heightened focusand increased mental capacity.

 

Now you’re probably also wondering how caffeine makes you stay awake longer throughout the day. Great question!

Adenosine is a by-product of energy consumption in the brain which normally increases as the day progresses, gradually inducing tiredness and a reduction of alertness until you sleep, which adenosine is then recycled and decreases throughout the night until you wake up.

As mentioned earlier, caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors, preventing adenosine from attaching to its receptors, therefore your body will be more alert and awake throughout the day.

Naturally, as caffeine wears off throughout the day, the accumulated adenosine will finally be able to attach to its receptors, resulting in the familiar "caffeine crash" and a desire for rest.

 

You’re reading this and may be thinking the benefits sound too good to be true and you are partially right - there is a caveat.

Because our human brains are super smart, we tend to adapt to our environment very quickly.

You have heard it several times already that caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors in our brain, and because our brain recognises this, it starts to create more adenosine receptors to compensate for this.

 

Do you see where this is going?

The more adenosine receptors, the more caffeine you need to consume to block these new receptors, leading to an increased caffeine tolerance.

 

This is why you see people who are stuck drinking coffee every single day just to stay awake and function normally.

They simply don’t feel the benefits of coffee anymore because of the increase in adenosine receptors unless they consume more caffeine.

 

You can see how people become very reliant on caffeine.

People nowadays, instead of expressing their tired they are, will often say, "I could use a coffee".

If this sounds like you, don’t panic, there is a solution.

 

To reset your brain's baseline, consider abstaining from caffeine for a specified duration dependant on how much you were consuming and how long for.

Your goal is to abstain from caffeine until you are able to stay awake through a whole week without saying I need a coffee.

A general rule of thumb is typically three weeks with caffeine followed by one week without. Withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and lack of motivation may occur during this period, but it's a normal part of the process.

 

Optimal Caffeine Protocol

For optimal caffeine utilisation, follow a 3-week cycle with caffeine and a subsequent week without. Additionally, avoid consuming caffeine in the first 90 to 120 minutes after waking to prevent an afternoon crash, and cease caffeine intake at least 8-10 hours before bedtime.

 

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