How does caffeine affect your brain (immediate and long term)?

Caffeine is in near everything we eat as well as drink.

Caffeine is in near everything we eat as well as drink.

Annjanettea Doyle, staff reporter

Caffeine affects people in many ways but its effectiveness depends on how much caffeine they have consumed, an individual’s size, gender and the sensitivity to caffeine that they have. The effectiveness can also vary on a person’s medications if they are taking some as well as their lifestyle. This affects your body in many ways because of all this but, what we are gonna focus on is how it affects an adolescent brain.

Caffeine, in general, is actually really healthy for you because it’s a major source of antioxidants that your body needs. It’s also in the coffee that many teens and adults drink every day. Coffee has hundreds of bio active compounds that have lots of health benefits for people worldwide.

To understand what it does to your brain it’s important to know some information about the brain. There is something in the brain called adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. So, this part of your brain has neurons which will have a receptor for adenosine to attach to. When these attach to one another it makes the neurons fire and slows neural activity, which allows adenosine to build up all day and make you tired at the end of the day. But that’s the thing, caffeine doesn’t do that because it has a similar structure to adenosine, but prevents you from getting tired at all. That’s why it makes you alert after you drink it this usually can last for about 4-6 hours after consuming caffeine.

For starters, there is coffee that has caffeine but so do some foods that we eat on a daily basis. Caffeine is a natural stimulant for the brain and the body. About 64 percent of the United States drinks or eats this stimulant in the morning or afternoon for a boost throughout the day. But there can be some not so nice reactions to having too much caffeine. For example, headaches, anxiety, irritability, drowsiness and in rare cases, tremors (shaking). In some situations having too much caffeine can cause confusion because it can overstimulate the brain. Also, it can cause hallucinations and vomiting as well, it may have the opposite effect on you, for most it wakes them up but sometimes it has a reverse effect and makes people become drowsy.  

There is a possible chance of actually overdosing on caffeine. Which could lead to death because of convulsions due to drinking too much caffeine, or diet pills. But, this is rare and doesn’t happen often to people who drink caffeine exclusively. As a side effect of drinking coffee every day, it makes the receptors numb to adenosine making you not get tired and stay awake longer than your body is supposed to.

Though this may show some downfalls of caffeine there are some upsides to drinking or eating caffeine. Likes caffeine helps with some brain function like your mood, reaction time, vigilance, attention, learning and general mental function. This can sometimes enhance short-term memory and it can help with long-term memory by consuming caffeine after you just learned something new. Caffeine in coffee has shown to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. And in recent studies, it has also shown that it can help with Parkinson’s disease prevention. It’s shown to reduce your risk of getting Parkinson’s disease by 29 percent if you drink three cups of coffee every day.

But there is a limit to the caffeine one can have in one day. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers caffeine to be both a drug and a stimulant and recommends to only drink about four to five cups of coffee every day, which amounts to about 400 milligrams of coffee per day. So be careful about your consumption of coffee because you can get addicted to it and have withdrawal symptoms and they are not pleasant to experience.

In the long run, caffeine can help reduce the risks of getting certain brain diseases but, may cause you some sleeping issues. In the short term, it can help improve brain function and overall performance of your brain and it should only be drank moderately if you know the risks because caffeine affects everyone differently.