Every morning before making my way to my first class, an essential part of my daily routine is heading to Findlay commons for a cup of coffee if I want to get through my morning. Why? Caffeine. I have found that without caffeine it’s very hard for me to stay awake and alert in my early morning classes. The fact that I rely so heavily on this substance got me to researching which eventually led me to find an interesting link between caffeine and creativity.
Just thinking about it, I didn’t think there could be an actual link between caffeine and creativity since they seem completely unrelated. But, if there’s anything I’ve learned in this class, it’s that two seemingly unconnected things can correlate. And then I thought about how if there were to be a connection, that caffeine would stimulate creativity since people, like me, usually can’t get through the day without having some caffeine to spark some energy and maybe even trigger creativity. My goal was to find out how.
Before researching, I thought that caffeine would give the body more energy thus allowing it to stay alert for a few hours. After researching, I discovered that caffeine actually hinders the receptors that activate when adenosine, the chemical that signals the brain when you need rest, is accepted (see x). This in turn doesn’t allow your brain to know when you actually need to sleep and to regain energy (see x). It convinces your body that you have the same amount of energy that you did when you first started drinking the caffeine (see x). Consequently, while for a while you may be motivated and empowered, you eventually end up drained and depleted once the caffeine wears off. (x)
As for creativity, since adenosine is being blocked, this allows for other chemicals, specifically dopamine and glutamate, to do additional work in your brain (x). According to this article, dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your body that passes information between neurons (x). According to another article, glutamate is also a neurotransmitter that helps with learning and memory and is responsible for sending signals throughout the body (x). Overall, caffeine allows these neurotransmitters to work beyond their normal potential, thus enhancing creativity as you are more likely to be more inventive. The problem with this is that as soon as the effects of caffeine wears off, the adenosine kicks in and leads you to feel more tired than you would’ve before drinking it. The article goes on to say that if you are an avid coffee drinker, this may not be true since you are constantly using energy that your body doesn’t actually carry. (x) Bummer.
In conclusion, caffeine may seem like a great way to revitalize and stay attentive when you need it but really, using it every day reduces the effectiveness of it stimulating your creativity. Thus, there is a correlation and causation between caffeine and creativity; the mechanism being that when adenosine is cut off, it allows dopamine and glutamate to do more work in your brain therefore heightening your ability to make connections. While rationally I should stop drinking coffee so that caffeine can be more effective for me when I do, I don’t see any other way I’ll be getting through my 9 a.m.’s…