How Does Caffeine Work And Is It Good Or Bad?

caffeine coffee beans

A vast majority of people make or buy a nice cup of coffee as part of their ever lasting routine to “wake up” or get that boost of energy, but what’s the real deal with this drug?

It’s extremely common for someone to be tired and think that they need a beverage with caffeine because it will pick them up. This magical thing gives us a boost and makes our minds alert right? Actually it doesn’t! Caffeine in fact BLOCKS the receptors that make you feel tired. So all of a sudden you feel like you have all this energy when a moment ago you were tired, in reality you’ve just stopped feeling tired. This is the reason why many students order modafinil online at best price they could get to help with pulling all-nighters. Your brain has actually been tricked. There are some other side effects that the body endures but energy wise you’re not getting a real “boost” to your system.

Some effects that caffeine causes

  • Heart beats faster
  • Muscles tighten up
  • Pupils dialate
  • Breathing tubes open up
  • Blood flow to the stomach and some blood vessel slow down

How Does Caffeine Work?

Our brains produce a neuro-chemical called Adenosine which builds up throughout the day and finally gets to the point that you have to go to sleep to have it released. The trick that caffeine plays is that it resembles adenosine’s shape and size and enter the receptors without activating them. So instead of feeling sleepy those particular receptors are then effectively blocked. Once those receptors are blocked, your brain’s natural stimulants such as dopamine and glutamate can function more freely.

Stephen R. Braun, author of a 224 page paper in 1997 explained caffeine in an excellent metaphor. Think of it like a vehicle. Instead of hammering the gas, caffeine simply blocks the brake. This drug has many uses but it doesn’t boost your actual skill level but it can bump up your speed in certain abilities. For mundane tedious tasks you do everyday in the office, caffeine can actually improve your output and quality of work. On the other hand something more creative or complex doesn’t appear to have any benefit.

Offduty: Caffine Drinks

What products or drinks have the most caffeine?

  • Coffee
  • Energy drinks
  • Tea
  • Soda

How Does Caffeine Affect The Body?

Like many other consumables, you build up a tolerance. The first time you have coffee, tea or pop you might be feeling quite the “jolt”. After having these items for a while, the same amount doesn’t seem to give you as much of a boost. This isn’t that surprising really because that’s simply the way the body works. You build up a tolerance to anything that you continue to consume regularly.

Caffeine takes around 5 – 6 hours after ingestion before the dose wears off from the human body. Women who take oral birth control actually take around twice as long to process caffeine. Smokers take around HALF the time to process. This is actually a funny fact because all stereotypes aside, I tend to notice that smokers drink a lot of coffee and more often!

Something a little interesting is that you can feel withdrawal from caffeine fairly quickly. This can be anywhere between 12 – 24 hours after your last use. This is a huge indicator of why the first drink of coffee in the morning seems like such a big deal. It’s staving off that withdrawal in addition to the normal effects! Withdrawal is the same as with any substance. Your brain has become accustomed to functioning with this consumable and now all of a sudden things have changed.

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Headaches are the most common side effect of killing off your caffeine intake. In fact you may have noticed that a lot of patients who come out of anesthesia after a major surgery feel a headache. This is usually because they’re not used to being without caffeine for so long. Depression, irritability, nausea, fatigue, lethargy, eye spasms and even vomiting can be a part of the caffeine cut off. This is something you’ll just have to deal with for around 10 days or so if you’re trying to quit cold turkey.

sad woman

What are the top health concerns from caffeine intake?

  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Stress
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Blood sugar and Insulin problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Adrenal exhaustion
  • Accelerated aging

When it comes down to it, caffeine seems a little more dangerous and undesirable once you know the facts. Sure all the drinks with it taste great and yes it does help with some fatigue but there is a cost. The cost isn’t all short term too. A lot of it is long term and can negatively impact you in a critical way. That being said, caffeine has it’s uses but should be taken in moderation and wisely. I’d recommend trying to limit your intake so that you can live a longer and healthier life, but I know it’s pretty hard to pass up a nice fresh cup of coffee!

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Why Do We Yawn And Why Is It Contagious?

girl yawning

Everybody does it. Sometimes it’s early in the morning, sometimes it’s the middle of the day and your at work or school and sometimes it’s at night. So what actually causes us to yawn?

Yawning is an involuntary action and once you start it’s pretty hard to stop yourself. A yawn is a coordinated movement of the thoracic muscles in the chest, diaphragm, larynx in the throat and palate in the mouth. It coats the lungs with a wetting agent (surfactant) to coat the alveoli (tiny air sacs) in the lungs. We generally cannot yawn on command and it is triggered by neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus of the brain.

Surprisingly even with all the time, science and technology we have today there isn’t a definitive answer! Yes believe it or not, we STILL don’t know exactly why we yawn! There are several leading theories but there aren’t any proven facts that highlight one above others.

Let’s go through a few of the main theories.

Yawning Gives Us More Oxygen And Releases Carbon Dioxide

There are theories on this benefiting the respiratory and circulatory system. Could we need more oxygen in our lungs or do we need to expel more carbon dioxide that has been building up?

Modern day evidence makes it seem unlikely that yawning is a function of the respiratory system though. The circulatory system however could be affected by yawning to increase blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen in the blood thus improving alertness and motor functions.

Yawning Cools The Brain

Recent studies have suggested that yawning could be related to brain temperature (Gallup and Gallup, 2008). Basically when the brain goes beyond the normal temperature, yawning could cool the brain. This may involve the body’s cooler blood flowing into the brain and warm blood circulating out through the jugular vein.

An odd contradictory in my opinion is that you are more likely to yawn in colder temperatures such as winter than in the warmer summer which I’d expect the opposite considering the environments temperature should affect a body as well.

Yawning Stretches The Lungs And Lubricates Them

The idea here is that stretching and yawning may be a way to flex the muscles, joints, increase your heart rate and feel more awake.

Along with this is the theory that yawning is a protective reflex that redistributes surfactant (oily substance) that helps lubricate the lungs and keep them from collapsing. This is supposed to suggest that if we didn’t yawn, taking deep breaths would become increasingly more difficult as time goes on.

Yawning Indicates A Change In Behavioral State

This would be associated with the change from wakefulness to sleep or boredom to alertness for example. This could potentially have a correlation with physical states as well, such as going from exercising or doing some activity like walking to sitting in a chair and not moving much for an extended period of time.

group yawning

So How Come Yawning Is Contagious?

This is an extremely interesting concept and one that tends to be true. If you are in a classroom or in a group of people somewhere and you visibly yawn, more than likely other people will yawn within 5 minutes of you. Even thinking about yawning can start to trigger this contagion.

One idea is that it is a physical signal that our bodies are saying it’s time to sleep or get up kind of like an internal 24 hour clock. If one person is yawning and then other people start yawning because of it, then they all may go to sleep around the same time and thus have a synchronized cycle.

Conclusion

The truth regarding yawning is that it is still a mystery. Even after all the time passed and resources available to us, we still don’t know everything about the eluded “yawn”. Most the theories seem logical and possible so it’s very interesting that a large scale official study has not been conducted to get the 100% correct scientific truth.

For now I’ll just say we yawn because our bodies are telling us we need more sleep to function properly, but that’s just me!

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