Most people that consume coffee don’t really know anything about it, they just roll out of bed, brew a pot (or, ugh, pour in instant coffee mix into hot water…), and chug-a-lug until they feel like they are alive again. Sure, you can do that, but you’re not getting the most out of it, and you’re probably setting your body up for failure.
Before we tell you the 3 things you should know about caffeine, first you need to know how caffeine works. So, not to get too Bill Nye on you guys here, but caffeine is pretty much the same shape as a chemical called adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical that lets your brain know that it’s tired when it lands on adenosine shaped landing pads. So, because caffeine is the same shape, it can fill up those adenosine shaped landing pads, keeping the adenosine from landing and telling your brain to feel tired.
Neat trick, huh? Kinda.
Here are 3 things you need to know:
1) The more caffeine you drink, the more you need to reach the same level of stimulation
See, the body doesn’t make you feel tired for no reason. You’re going too long without sleep, you’re working too hard, or any other number of things. So, if you keep doing this, your body is running a higher risk of getting wrecked. Your body ends up wondering why all of those adenosine landing pads are full, but that you’re still going. So, it sprouts some new ones, you know, just in case. What happens after that? All of that adenosine that was floating around with no landing pads now has extra landing pads, and guess what? You feel tired. Dang it body, why won’t you let me keep tricking you?! Well, you can, by drinking more coffee. This is why when people start with coffee it becomes hard to stop, or they gradually drink more over time. Sometimes it might be better for you to just naturally deal with the tiredness, take a power nap during the day, or just make sure you’re getting in a full 8 hours of sleep (yes, we’re serious).
Or do what you want and become literally addicted. Your call. Just keep in mind that if you keep upping the ante what is really going on is…
2) Caffeine is in your system for a long time… like, a really long time
According to the National Sleep Foundation, once consumed, caffeine has a half life in your body of 6 hours. Meaning, if you chugged 4 coffees at 12pm, 2 coffees’ worth of caffeine would be in your system at 6pm, and 1 coffee’s worth of caffeine at midnight. Again, you may not “feel” it, but that’s because you’ve trained your body to need to create more adenosine landing pads because you were trying to trick it. Don’t kid yourself- you have stimulants in your body still.
3) No coffee for at least an hour after waking up
American Psychological Association cited many studies, but it comes down to this: your body doesn’t benefit from caffeine early, and may even hamper it. Not only is the adenosine likely wiped away, but your body releases its own natural energy boosting chemical called cortisol. If you start jacking yourself up with caffeine early, your body will slow down on producing this booster too.
So, with all of that said, do we think you should avoid caffeine? Obviously not. Caffeine has been linked to many great things from longevity, to memory, and even disease prevention.
What it comes down to is that you’ve just got to be smart about it. And, now that you know what it is, hopefully you can enjoy your fresh cup o’ joe even more than before.