The stimulant caffeine

The stimulant caffeine is a well-known remedy against fatigue and concentration problems. What effect caffeine has on our body, how it has a lasting effect on sleep and why symptoms of fatigue are reduced by consuming caffeine, you can find out here.

Table of contents

      1. The pick-me-up caffeine
      2. What is caffeine?
      3. How does caffeine work?
        1. Effect & dosage
        2. Effect on the psyche
        3. Effect on the body
      4. Positive properties of caffeine at a glance
      5. Side effects of caffeine
      6. Caffeine & Sleep
      7. Conclusion / tips on caffeine consumption

      The pick-me-up caffeine

      A cup of coffee is a popular first aid against sluggishness in the morning or the fatigue symptoms of the classic midday slump. But not only in the form of coffee, but also in cola, tea, energy drinks and chocolate, many people rely on the "pick-me-up" caffeine and its invigorating effect in the fight against fatigue and acute performance weaknesses. But what exactly is caffeine and how does its well-known effect occur in our body?

      What is caffeine?

      Grafik: Chemische Verbindung / Alkanoid / Nervengift Koffein

      Caffeine/caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical compound, a so-called alkaloid, which is found in the leaves, seeds and fruits of numerous plant species. Here, caffeine functions as a natural defense against pests, for example in coffee and cocoa beans, tea leaves, or components of the guarana or cola tree. Due to its stimulating effect on the human organism and nervous system, caffeine is also known as a psychoactive substance. Particularly popular in the form of coffee, cola, tea or energy drinks, caffeine is the most commonly consumed remedy worldwide for acute fatigue and concentration problems. In addition to numerous positive and invigorating effects, however, the substance can also have a negative effect on the body and psyche, especially in the wrong dosage, and also directly affect our sleep.

      How does caffeine work?

      Duration of effect and dosage

      Caffeine is absorbed by the body in the form of food or stimulants via the digestive system and thus enters the bloodstream, where it begins to take effect after about 15 to 30 minutes. The different effects of caffeine are particularly noticeable in our brain and central nervous system, usually lasting for several hours and then slowly subsiding. The rate at which our bodies break down the caffeine we ingest depends on a number of factors, including our age, weight and general health. The average half-life is between three and five hours after consumption. A noticeable effect is already apparent from a single dose of approx. 100 - 200 mg and also depends on the form in which the caffeine is consumed.

      Grafik: Anregende Wirkung von Koffein durch Kaffee und Tee

      Effect on the psyche

      Caffeine is widely known for its stimulating effect on the central nervous system. The substance resembles the body's own messenger substance adenosine and is able to occupy and block the adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is a component of the energy carrier ATP and is secreted when we use energy excessively. It is then responsible for signaling fatigue and thus protecting neurons from overexertion. Caffeine, however, is able to block this fatigue signal so that fatigue symptoms can be reduced and our nerves can continue to work at full speed. At the same time, caffeine also promotes the production of the happiness hormone dopamine and the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. Dopamine facilitates the transmission of nerve signals, while adrenaline or noradrenaline increase blood flow and blood pressure, thus improving concentration and performance in the brain.

      Koffein für mehr Konzentration, Gedächtnis, Aufmerksamkeit

      In this way, caffeine reduces feelings of fatigue and in turn supports mental alertness and wakefulness, while promoting nerve function and encouraging a positive state of mind. Various studies also show that moderate caffeine consumption can also have a positive effect on long-term memory and improve our brain's ability to store information.

      Effects on the body

      Caffeine not only works in our brain, but has numerous effects on the entire organism. For example, it stimulates digestion and increases intestinal movement, speeds up heart activity, metabolism and our breathing. And our blood pressure and body temperature also rise after consuming the popular substance. As a result, caffeine also affects our general body function as well as physical well-being and can not only improve our athletic performance, but also help relieve headaches and migraines.

      Positive properties of caffeine at a glance

      • Reduces fatigue and promotes alertness

      • Increases concentration and alertness

      • Has a positive effect on the memory capacity of the brain & the long-term memory

      • Stimulates the cardiovascular system & digestion

      • Increases physical performance, e.g. by accelerating heart rate, metabolism and respiration

      Side effects of caffeine

      As is often the case, the adage "the dose makes the poison" applies to caffeine! In a single dose of up to 200 mg (about two cups of coffee) and a daily amount of less than 400 mg (equivalent to about four cups of coffee), caffeine is generally considered safe for adults. However, overdosing can have a number of negative consequences and be detrimental to health in both the short and long term. The side effects of excessive caffeine consumption include headaches, inner restlessness and irritability, digestive disorders or circulatory problems. Consuming too much caffeine, especially too late, also disturbs our sleep by lengthening the time it takes to fall asleep in the evening and reducing sleep duration and quality.

      Koffein gegen Müdigkeit und Leistungsschwäche

      Caution: The body can become accustomed to regular caffeine intake, which is why the noticeable effects can weaken over time or serious withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, mood swings or increased fatigue can occur. Therefore, it's best to make sure you consume caffeine in moderation and don't exceed the recommended daily intake.

      Caffeine & Sleep

      Due to its stimulating and invigorating effects, caffeine can increase the time it takes to fall asleep, decrease sleep quality, and shorten overall sleep duration. It blocks the body's fatigue signals and leads to increased neural activity, which prevents us from adequately relaxing, winding down, and sleeping soundly, especially in the evening. In addition to this, the psychoactive substance is able to affect the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and shift our sleep-wake rhythm. In scientific studies, it has also been observed that increased caffeine consumption before sleep reduces the deep sleep phases that are crucial for our recovery and makes it more difficult to sleep through the night. So not only can caffeine make our sleep less restful, it can promote sleep deprivation, resulting in more daytime fatigue. In this article, you can also learn how our diet and individual nutrients can also affect sleep.

      Tip: Make sure your daily intake is not too high and, at best, avoid foods containing caffeine four to six hours before going to bed so that the stimulating effect can subside and the caffeine can be sufficiently broken down before the nightly rest period.

      Conclusion / tips on caffeine consumption

      • Enjoy in moderation! For an adult, up to 200mg at a time and up to 400 mg of caffeine per day are considered safe. Rule of thumb: Maximum 5.7 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight per day.
      • Avoid caffeine from the afternoon onwards or in the last four to six hours before going to bed, because although caffeine is an effective wake-up call for acute tiredness, it is no substitute for a healthy sleep pattern
      • The caffeine from coffee, tea or energy drinks acts at different rates in our bodies. For example, a high sugar content in soft drinks leads to a faster absorption of the substance into the brain, while the effect of the caffeine (tein) found in teas unfolds more slowly, but also lasts longer

      Best regards and see you soon!

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