People often hear mixed reviews of caffeine, including flip flopping research about whether it is good for them or not. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that has an extremely strong effect on the brain. All adults know that a morning cup of coffee, an afternoon bottle of coke, or an evening cup of tea will stimulate them. A student knows that an energy drink will keep him or her up all night to cram for that test the next morning. However, that is just general knowledge about the power of caffeine? So, what are the exact effects of caffeine on a person’s brain? Here are four of them:
1. Caffeine will amp up a person’s speed, but not necessarily his or her skills.
The most commonly known of these four effects of caffeine on a person’s brain is, of course, alertness. Caffeine has long been known to increase a person’s alertness and also to increase his or her productivity. One thing that has not necessarily been proven, though, is that it enhances a person’s skill set. That is, sometimes caffeine produces quantity over quality. Just because a person is getting more done at a more rapid speed does not necessarily mean that his or her work is of better quality than usual… or even of good quality at all, for that matter. People have long been known to introduce caffeine into their bodies for reasons of sleep deprivation and work overload. A person overloading his or her mind with way too much work is never a good thing. Similarly, working for hours on end with virtually no sleep, and with only a stimulant like caffeine to stay awake is often bound to produce less than quality results in a person’s work, even if the person might not be able to see that for themselves at the time.
2. Caffeine withdrawal, resulting from dependence, can give a person a major headache.
Headaches from caffeine: why do these happen? The average life-span of caffeine in a person’s body is about five to six hours; after that, it begins to wear off. People start to feel real withdrawals from caffeine anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after their last use of it. As a person drinks more and more caffeine, and slowly begins to build up a tolerance and dependency to it, one or two cups of coffee is suddenly not enough anymore; his or her body craves more. If he or she does not get it one day, the headache appears.
3. Caffeine messes around with the adenosine and dopamine in a person’s brain.
Essentially, when a person drinks caffeine, the first thing it does is crashes the adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is responsible in the brain for slowing down a person’s nerve activity, which makes he or she want to take naps or slow down and rest. Adenosine is also responsible for regulating dopamine in the brain, so that might make a person feel a little sluggish later on. Adenosine and caffeine are very similar in molecular structure, making it easy for them to bind together and help the caffeine to take effect.
Watch a video on caffeine and how it affects the brain here:
4. Caffeine can possibly make a person feel depressed.
Regular use of caffeine has been shown in studies to decrease norepinephrine receptors in the brain. This hormone is similar to adrenaline. It has also been shown to reduce serotonin, which helps enhance a person’s mood. Dopamine, which also affects mood, is affected by caffeine as well, as mentioned above (see number three of the four effects of caffeine on a person’s brain). Studies do suggest that caffeine alone may not be the sole cause of this, it may be a contributing factor to sadder moods in some people who have a caffeine habit.
By Laura Clark