How does caffeine affect the brain? It changes the rhythm of sleep and wakefulness, affects cognitive processes and even affects our mood. It provides great benefits in reasonable amounts, but its excess can cause adverse effects. Learn everything here!
Almost all of us are familiar with the main effects of caffeine on the brain: It provides greater concentration and invigorates us. Therefore, it is very common for coffee to be the first drink we drink in the morning as it helps us wake up for the daily routine. But does caffeine affect the brain in other ways as well?
In fact, caffeine’s effect on the brain is not limited to increasing attentional state, it goes much further than that. Experts agree that drinking moderate amounts of coffee is a healthy practice. It is estimated that 80% of adults in the world drink coffee.
However, when we consume coffee in very large quantities, it causes various problems. Likewise, another of the effects of caffeine on the brain is that it is addictive. This means that when we stop drinking we will experience withdrawal syndrome.
Let’s look at the subject in more detail.
How does caffeine affect the brain?
As we know, the active ingredient of coffee is caffeine and it is a psychoactive substance. In fact, it is the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world. It belongs to the alkaloid family, which also includes drugs such as morphine, nicotine, or cocaine.
Caffeine has a very powerful effect on the brain. From a neurobiological point of view, it alters the state of consciousness by activating or increasing the level of alertness. It also affects cognitive processes and has psychological effects on mood.
This is because caffeine can alter the action of neurotransmitters in the brain. In addition, coffee and caffeine also affect a number of other important processes in the organism, such as digestion, metabolism and vision.
Caffeine, adenosine and adrenaline
From the moment we wake up and throughout the day, the body naturally produces a substance called adenosine. This is responsible for the feeling of tiredness and causes us to feel sleepy at night. This process can change if we drink coffee.
Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist, which simply means that one blocks the action of the other. As a result, we do not feel sleepy or feel at the right intensity. At the same time, this interaction between caffeine and adenosine causes the pituitary gland to release hormones that stimulate the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline.
When caffeine is present in our brain, adenosine is blocked and adrenaline production is also increased; this causes the effect as if we are sending a warning message to the body. This leads to an increased heart rate and more blood pumping, as well as more agitated breathing.
All this together makes us feel more anxious and frustrated. Another effect of caffeine is that it inhibits the reabsorption of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that also affects fatigue and resting processes. Unabsorbed dopamine increases the total concentration of dopamine in the body, and this is part of the explanation for why we become addicted to coffee.
Caffeine affects the frontal lobes of the brain
From the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, Dr. Florian Koppelstaetter team presented a study on the subject. In this study, they note that caffeine activates the frontal lobes of the brain. This area regulates processes such as attention and short-term memory.
Other research points to another way caffeine can affect the brain by helping to fix memories more easily. However, this effect is only seen in people who do not consume coffee very often.
Caffeine also increases our capacity to concentrate, especially when we feel tired. However, available information shows that when consumed excessively, it reduces performance in all areas and creates a state of great irritability.
Other effects of caffeine on the body
Caffeine also helps some drugs act more quickly and effectively, such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, or aspirin. In fact, there are health conditions that occur because coffee acts as a mild analgesic, especially for hypotension headaches.
Coffee also reduces your appetite, but this feeling is neither long-lasting nor meaningful for a weight loss plan. Some studies have found that regular coffee drinkers are less likely to die from problems such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Caffeine stays in the body for a long time. The first effects are felt fifteen minutes after consumption and continue until five or six hours later. Here’s why an afternoon coffee can ruin your night’s rest!