Before breaking down how coffee works, it's important to know that a molecule called 'adenosine
' binds to the receptor cells in our brains which slows down brain activity
This is our body's way of telling us to slow down, or get some sleep. So the longer you are awake, the concentration of adenosine goes up and eventually you feel tired, fatigued and sleepy.
Right after you wake up, the concentration of adenosine goes down and you feel more active.
Caffeine present in coffee, has a strikingly similar structure to adenosine.
So once you grab that cup-a-joe, here's what happens in your body -
- Caffeine travels to your brain via your bloodstream and starts blocking the receptor cells before adenosine could get in.
- The receptor cells bond with caffeine due to it's structure being similar to adenosine.
- This stops adenosine to calm you down and stimulates the production of adrenaline, which increases heart rate, blood flow and makes you feel active.
- This also helps your brain absorb more dopamine, which makes you feel happy.
Since caffeine has a half life of about 6 hours, you start to feel half the affects dropping off by this time. And so, you are tempted to go for another mug.
Now as a long term side affect of consuming caffeine, your brain responds by creating more adenosine receptors. which makes you drink more coffee to feel the buzz!