It is well known that coffee is one of the most widely-consumed beverages worldwide. It’s estimated that over 2.25 billion cups are consumed every single day. In spite of this, the average person doesn’t know the wide range of effects caffeine can have on the body. And while many people could list a few pros or cons to consuming caffeine, most individuals don’t actually know the biological processes behind these effects. Although coffee can make us feel more alert and focused, it also has the potential to increase feelings of anxiety and make it harder to sleep well. This article will delve further into the various effects of caffeine on the human body, as well as the process behind them. Additionally, I will be answering the commonly asked question “Why does coffee make me tired?”.
What makes coffee so addictive?
It’s common for people to claim that they can’t properly function without their daily cup of coffee, but how much truth is there behind that statement? Caffeine – the active drug found in coffee and other caffeine-containing beverages – is a stimulant to the human brain. The drug chemically alters the actual wiring of our brains, allowing the consumer to feel more alert for a period of time. The addictive nature of caffeinated beverages is also a part of the reason people find it so hard to quit once it has become a part of their routine. As a regular coffee drinker myself, I’ve definitely felt significantly worse on days where I miss my morning brew, or even just have it later in the day than usual. These withdrawal symptoms often include headaches and grogginess, though it’s important to note that symptoms will vary in severity from person to person. It’s recommended that people who want to quit consuming caffeine do so progressively, slowly weaning themselves off of coffee and other products as opposed to quitting cold turkey. In doing so, unfavorable side effects will hopefully be limited. Sources say that the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal will last roughly 8-10 days after an individual has fully quit caffeine, though this will vary depending on one’s starting intake and how abruptly they reduce their caffeine consumption.
Everyone knows the main benefit of coffee and the reason most people start their morning off with this caffeinated beverage: it makes us feel awake. Waking up early to head to your 9-5 job is a hard enough process, and this little jolt of energy can help tremendously in kickstarting your workday. Many people would also state that by enabling them to be more alert, caffeine also makes them significantly more productive. But as with most things, these positives don’t come without some less favorable effects. Here I’ll discuss a few of the key advantages and disadvantages to coffee consumption:
As mentioned above, the uncontested winner in terms of advantages of caffeine is that it makes us more alert. Along with making the consumer more focused and awake, caffeine is said to improve brain function. This increases productivity, and in turn, allows us to get through the day more smoothly. Coffee consumption is also linked to the prevention of certain health issues such as strokes, and lowering the chances of some types of diabetes. Individuals with complex medical histories are advised to consult a doctor immediately if they notice any concerning side effects after consuming caffeine. Regular caffeine consumption has also been linked to a lower rate of depression, however, the exact correlation between the two is still unknown.
Though there are many advantages to coffee, the disadvantages are worth considering as well. Caffeine often makes people jittery, and can worsen feelings of anxiety for some. As a result, those who are prone to issues with anxiety should exercise caution if they are consuming caffeine on a regular basis. Another common issue caused by drinking coffee is an inability to sleep. Not only is it harder to fall asleep, but generally the quality of sleep will also be inadequate. Additionally, caffeine consumption can pose a health risk to those with certain conditions such as diabetes. Caffeine can also interfere with some medications, so be sure to consult your physician if you have any questions on the topic.
So why does coffee make you tired?
It’s as simple as the interactions between biological components within our brains. One of the components of our brains, called adenosine, is responsible for the tired feeling that causes most people to begin their day with caffeine. When a caffeinated product is consumed, the caffeine molecules replace the adenosine. This interaction causes the spike in energy caffeine-drinkers crave. Over the course of a few hours, the caffeine molecules begin to break down and become absorbed, and the adenosine replaces them once again. During the time that it was inactive, an excess of adenosine will have built up. This is what causes the dreaded sudden wave of fatigue. This process ultimately results in a “caffeine-crash”, something many coffee consumers experience hours after enjoying a cup of joe. This is similar to what happens during a sugar crash, and can lead you to feel even more tired than before you drank the coffee.
I hope that this article has helped answer some of the questions you may have had about caffeine. Please note that at the end of the day, everyone’s bodies will react differently to caffeine, and it is up to the individual to consult their doctor and do their own research on the topic. There is so much more information available, and studies allow researchers to continue to make new discoveries every day. If you’re interested in learning more about the effects of coffee, or you would find a visual aid easier to understand, I highly recommend watching this short video titled “Your Brain on Coffee”. This video provides a colourful and comprehensive explanation of the brain’s various biological responses to caffeine.