We are sure most of you are running on caffeine. However, have you ever stopped to wonder how this miraculous item can help up go on about our days while combating fatigue? Caffeine is basically a central nervous system stimulant belonging to the methylxanthine class and is also the globally most widely consumed psychoactive drug.
Caffeine is legalized and generally unregulated. In its pure form, caffeine exists as a bitter, white crystalline purine that is related to the adenine and guanine bases found in RNA and DNA chemically. It is a part of a number of natural products in the world but is generally found in the seeds, nuts, and leaves of a number of plants (tea and coffee are the most common ones) native to Africa, East Asia, and South America. Caffeine serves as a way of protection against predation and suppresses seed germination – it is a natural defense mechanism.
When a person is awake, the neurons of the brain fire away and create a neurochemical known as adenosine as a byproduct. It is a purine and a base nucleoside. However, apart from that, it is also used in different processes that are happening in your body. It has a significant role in your immune, nervous, circulatory, respiratory, and urinary systems. The levels of this byproduct are being gauged constantly by our central nervous system by making use of a huge network of receptors. As soon as adenosine reaches a certain concentration in your brain and spinal cord, the body begins the process of making you go to sleep.
According to a website, ‘As adenosine is created in the brain, it binds to adenosine receptors. This binding causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cell activity. In the brain, this also causes blood vessels to dilate, most likely to let more oxygen into that organ during sleep.’ There are different kinds of adenosine receptors throughout your body, including A1 receptors that get affected by caffeine. If caffeine is ingested (around 100 to 200 mg), it can work its way towards these receptors and bind to them. However, it does the opposite of adenosine upon binding; it enhances the workings of the receptor’s cell.
This tricks your body into thinking that it is not yet time for you to sleep. However, that is not all. As adenosine is blocked from binding to the receptors, neurotransmitters such as dopamine and glutamate are able to build up in your system. This induces that ‘hit’ effect that you undergo upon drinking a strong coffee. However, you should keep in mind that although it can provide you with a boost from time to time, the effect is short-lived. Although drinking coffee can provide you with an apparent boost in energy, it not an alternative to sleep.