All you caffeine-crazy, coffee driven office creatures out there, check out the following article on effects of caffeine on the brain to get a reality check on what all those umpteen cups are doing to you.
Caffeine is my shepherd; I shall not doze.
It maketh me to wake in green pastures:
It leadeth me beyond the sleeping masses.
It restoreth my buzz:
It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of addiction,
I will fear no Equal:
For thou art with me; thy cream and thy sugar they comfort me.
Thou preparest a carafe before me in the presence of The Starbucks:
Thou anointest my day with pep; my mug runneth over.
Surely richness and taste shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the House of Mochas forever.
~ Author Unknown
Okay, gather your jaws, folks! I know what you must be going through after reading the above caffeinated version of Psalm 23 – it totally blew my mind off as well the moment it arrested my attention! For all of us who find it impossible to imagine a mundane existence without generous amounts of this stimulating, strong, aromatic ambrosia of the mortal macrocosm, no amount of persuasion or scientific evidence seems worthy of derailing us from the righteous path of caffeine!
More than a material necessity, the morning coffee (and afternoon… and evening… and post-dinner coffees… ) is an indispensable need for us living, breathing sleeping-bags to shapeshift into our human forms and go about our daily chores in such a way that the world starts making sense all over again…. since after last evening. However, on being compelled by my partner to temporarily stifle my spiritual sentiments for caffeine and take an objective look at the effects of caffeine on brain, here’s what I found out. This is both startling and heartbreaking (understandably so!).
How Does Caffeine Actually Work on Your Brain?
Ever wondered what makes coffee, or any heavily caffeinated beverage for that matter, such a great anti-slumber agent? Also, have you noticed another peculiar thing about the typical sort of wakefulness induced by coffee? Besides keeping you from dozing off, coffee actually makes you feel good about staying awake – well, for some time at least! You see, a lot of things can keep you from dozing off, say, loud banging noise for instance, but that doesn’t necessarily make you feel good about not being able to sleep. So how does caffeine achieve this feeling-good-about-staying-awake balance?
Well, it’s all about how caffeine interacts with certain functional areas and receptors of the brain. The interactive agents in question are the two bio-chemical transmitters, adenosine and dopamine. Adenosine is the chemical that induces a sense of fatigue and drowsiness by slowing down the electrical activities of the neurons. This neural activity inhibitory action is what leads to a feeling of sleepiness and is very important as otherwise the body will not get sufficient rest to carry on repairs and restorations to damaged and worn out tissues.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for giving you an overall feel of being in tune with your surroundings by making you feel pleased with, and attentive to, your immediate environment. Now, by inhibiting the action of adenosine on one hand and increasing dopamine levels on the other, caffeine makes sure that you stay awake and alert without resenting it. Rather, you feel fresh and good about this forced wakefulness!
Adverse Effects of Caffeine on Brain
By unnaturally blocking adenosine, caffeine does keep the nerve cells from getting tired but taken to extreme lengths, this can have severely damaging effects upon your brain as well as the rest of your body. Disabling your natural fatigue mechanism leaves your body with little opportunity to repair the damage that various tissues undergo during the course of a regular day. Also, insufficient rest owing to frequently skipping the regular biological shut-down routine gradually weakens the immune system, making the body’s defenses weaker against infections and diseases.
A caffeine overdose leads to an episode of high intensity neural bombardment inside the brain which the pituitary gland interprets as a biological or environmental emergency to which the body must respond immediately and with all aggression and alertness! This prompts the pituitary gland to spur the adrenals into releasing high amounts of adrenaline that causes the heart to beat faster, heightens blood pressure and increases blood sugar levels. If you’ve ever noticed how you get all sweaty and flushed after drinking 4 mugs of strong coffee in close succession, this is the reason why it happens.
Now, by depriving the body of rest, and by unnecessarily pumping up various physiological activities, caffeine very conveniently leads the body towards a massive burnout. Also, the body becomes so dependent upon caffeine that someone who becomes a victim of caffeine addiction finds it exceedingly difficult to keep awake and concentrate without drinking coffee, even if such a person is quite healthy otherwise and has had a good eight hours of sleep!
The most significant of all bad effects of coffee seems to be the after effects when the influence of caffeine starts to wear out. The body plunges into a sudden spell of fatigue and all energy seems to sap as the body’s caffeine-affected physiological functions attempt to go back to their normal rhythms. Also, by tricking the body into staying unnaturally charged up for longer than usual, caffeine actually contributes to the excessive depletion of cellular energy and this is what makes you feel worn out as the effects of that 10th espresso shot begins fading.
Since caffeine gets the body into the fight-or-flight mode, individuals who suffer from clinical anxiety disorder or panic attacks are strictly recommended to stay away from caffeinated food and beverages. So, you see folks, it is in our own interests to keep things slow and low with caffeine. Caffeine’s a tempestuous sweetheart, and a torrid affair with it can not only throw your cerebral efficiency off-balance but can also lead to some bespectacled, stethoscope swinging medicine man placing a prohibition on your union for life!