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Coffee and Your Brain: How to Make Sense of the Relationship Between the Two

This Is Your Brain on Coffee

how coffee affects the brain

Coffee is the world’s favorite energy-boosting elixir – so much so, that in the U.S. alone, Americans consume about 400 million cups of coffee per day. Because many people drink coffee to help them wake up and improve concentration, coffee is technically considered to be the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug in the world.

So what exactly is it about this magical brew that keeps us wanting cup after cup? Read on for a brief guide to how coffee affects your brain, and why you might feel like you can’t live without it!

Memory Boosting Magic and Coffee

A recent study has shown that a single dose of coffee (containing 200 mg of caffeine) after a study session can help to enhance memory retention. According to the same study, a 300 mg dose of caffeine produced different results, which suggests that dosage size does make a difference, as well as the time day when that coffee is consumed.

Further research needs to be conducted to learn exactly how and why this effect happens, but for now, it could be worthwhile to experiment with trying a cup of coffee after a learning session for a memory boost.

Coffee and Sleep

While you’re awake, neurons in your brain are producing a chemical substance called adenosine throughout the day. When adenosine levels reach a certain point, you will start to get tired and feel inclined to go to bed.

While you’re drinking your cup of Joe, that caffeine inside of it goes to work, blocking adenosine intake by heading straight for the adenosine receptors and tricking your brain into being accepted as the real thing. When this happens, your brain loses its ability to effectively monitor adenosine levels.

This also means that chemical stimulants produced by the brain like dopamine and glutamate are able to roam around unchecked, causing sensations of excitement and high energy.

Your clever brain responds to this by creating more adenosine receptors, which in turn means you are required to drink more coffee to experience the same effects. This is exactly how addictions to other drugs are formed.

Because coffee can sometimes trick your body into “running on empty,” drinking too much coffee during the day can seriously affect your sleep schedule. Because of this, it may be best to stick to drinking coffee in the morning to help avoid sleep cycle imbalance and the chronic fatigue that can accompany it.

Dosage Amounts of Caffeine and Coffee

When it comes to dosage, it’s important to remember that tolerance levels vary greatly from person to person. As a general rule of thumb, it’s wise to stick to no more than 300 – 400 mg of caffeine per a day (that’s about three to four cups of brewed coffee).

Any more than that can lead to over-caffeinating, which can cause symptoms like headaches, irritability, fatigue, increased blood pressure, difficulty focusing, increased heart rate, and upset stomach.

how coffee affects the brain

All Things in Moderation, Including Coffee

There’s no doubt that coffee can help us to feel good and get things done, but having a better sense of how coffee affects your brain can be useful in order to avoid the negative effects of overconsumption. Everybody reacts differently to caffeine, so take it slow, learn what feels right with your body, and you shouldn’t run into any trouble.