I got this idea from reading another blog post about coffee, and I wondered is that third cup of coffee really necessary? Or is it all in our heads?
A study proves that just thinking your are receiving caffeine, you will feel the effects of it. The University of London tested 88 students ranging from the ages of 18-47 who admitting to drink at least more than one cup of coffee a day. This was a blind study where only the scientists knew the truth, and were deceived into thinking the study was to test how caffeine affects mood and the brain. Because the participants were being lied to, some may call this unethical. However, if they knew the real reason for the study, that could sway the responses and therefore corrupt the study.
Four groups were created with the participants, each including 11 males and 11 females. Two groups received caffeinated coffee, but one group was told their coffee was decaf. The other got the placebo of decaf coffee, although one of the 2 decaf groups were under the impression they were drinking caffeinated coffee. They were to drink the coffee for 5 minutes and report their mood 55 minutes.
Interestingly enough, the caffeine drinkers and the people believed to have drank caffeine had very similar results are their mood test, which was sorting cards.
So I was curious if awareness and alertness was just all in our heads, what does caffeine actually do for you?
Nuerons in your brain fire adenosine which continues to be produced why your body stays awake. The nervous system monitors the production of the adenosine, but when the output
reaches a specific level, your body will start settling down into sleep. Caffeine interacts with the adenosine and will start to impersonate it. Your body will see the impersonators as the real adenosine and continue to stay more alert.
The impersonators bind to receptors blocking them from doing their real work, and therefore dopamine and glutamate can act more freely. According to Stephen Braun, from his famous book on how caffeine affects the brains, he used the metaphor of caffeine acting like breaks to stop the normal body processing, rather than it act as a gas to start energizing.
All of this neuroscience is very confusing to me too, but the general concensus is that coffee cannot replace an entire night of sleeping, but it may give you a couple extra hours of tired wakefulness. It also cannot improve skill or work, but possibly only give you a little extra boost to help get the work done.
As for me, I am going to keep drinking coffee. If it’s decaf and I am unaware, if it helps me to stay awake, I am all for it. Maybe instead of so much coffee however, we should all just try getting a good night of sleep. (I know, very funny haha.)