You probably know the feeling, your alarm goes off and the first order of business is getting that cup of coffee or tea into your system. For over 1,000 years now, millions of people have been dependent on their caffeine fix in the morning and often all throughout the day, in order to remain functional and stay alert. But recent studies have shown that caffeine may not actually do anything to wake you up or keep you alert, and the sense of feeling more awake may simply be your body responding to getting its fix and reversing the withdrawal symptoms. If you drink a lot of coffee throughout the day while at work, you may notice that on your day off, when you drink less coffee, you feel sluggish and may even develop a headache even if you have had more sleep than you are accustomed to getting on work days. The reason for this is simply that your body is going through withdrawals because you have not had your usual dose for the day. For people who are not normally coffee drinkers, having a strong cup of coffee as a pick-me-up may do them more harm than good, as their body is not used to it. They are unlikely to feel more alert after their caffeine fix, but they may feel jittery or overly anxious, or even have difficulty concentrating on one thing, which is anything but the effect they were looking for.

A group of researchers at the University of Bristol conducted a study to determine the effects of caffeine on people based on their genetic differences. During the study, 139 volunteers were examined and had blood samples taken, making it the largest study of its kind. After that, they were asked to abstain from drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks for a period of 16 hours. Then, some volunteers were given a caffeine pill, while others received a placebo pill. In the hours following, they were again given either a placebo pill or a higher dosage of the caffeine pill. The researchers then measured their level of alertness as well as their emotional state of mind by means of a questionnaire that looked at their physical sensation scales, mood and alertness. It was discovered that how people are affected by caffeine depends a lot on whether or not they are used to consuming it. Of the subjects examined, about half were used to consuming medium amounts of caffeine a day (a few mugs). The other half was not accustomed to drinking caffeinated beverages on a regular basis or at all. The subjects who did not normally drink coffee did not feel more alert after their dose of caffeine; rather, they experienced more frequent headaches as a result of the caffeine pills. Those who were accustomed to drinking coffee and received a placebo experienced withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and sleepiness. Of the 139 volunteers, four asked to be excused from the study early due to their severe headaches. Clearly, caffeine withdrawals are no joke. Those who were not used to consuming caffeine reported higher anxiety levels, particularly those with the gene ADORA2A, which is known to play a part in panic attacks. The subjects that consumed medium to high amounts of coffee felt no such effects, showing that consuming caffeine regularly causes people to build up a resistance to the drug. Recent studies have shown that caffeine may not actually do anything to wake you up or keep you alert, and the sense of feeling more awake may simply be your body responding to getting its fix and reversing the withdrawal symptoms.

Conversely, another study carried out by an international group of scientists; found that the mere smell of a freshly brewed cup of coffee may be enough to perk you right up.  In their research, they used lab rats that were made to inhale the aroma of coffee. Some of the rats were under levels of stress due to sleep deprivation. The scientists then looked at the rats’ brains to analyze certain genes and proteins. They found that the after having sniffed the coffee, the stressed out and sleep deprived rats showed higher levels of certain proteins that are known to protect the nerve cells from damage caused by excessive stress. The rats that had not caught a whiff of the beverage did not show any signs of improvement or higher levels of proteins. This could explain the feeling of satisfaction that one gets from walking into a coffee shop and breathing in the rich aromas of dozens of steaming hot mugs of coffee. If you are tired of experiencing caffeine withdrawals on your day off, the best advice would be either to cut coffee completely from your diet, or continue to drink it regularly every day of the week. Cutting it only slightly, or on certain days of the week will only worsen your feelings of withdrawal, because your body will not be able to adjust to your routine. Of course, you could always just stand in a coffee shop for a couple of minutes each morning to get your pick-me-up without the caffeine. On the up side, if you are a regular coffee drinker and you have no intention of giving it up any time soon, you will be happy to know that there are actually a number of health benefits attributed to the consumption of coffee. Harvard researchers have found that coffee, in moderation, may protect against high cholesterol, diabetes and even Parkinson’s disease. Researchers also found that people who drink coffee regularly are 50% less likely to develop liver cancer than those who do not. So while coffee may not necessarily make you more alert, there seem to be plenty of reasons to continue drinking it, or at least to justify its use. Just don’t go overboard, because too much caffeine may cause you to become dehydrated or in extreme cases, even suffer panic attacks or seizures. Generally, it is advisable not to drink more than 600mg of caffeine per day, which is about four to five cups of coffee. The key here, as with anything, is to be moderate in your caffeine consumption. If you listen to your body, get enough sleep and hydrate throughout the day, you will be able to enjoy your coffee for many years to come. Adding a good brain supplement to your daily diet is definitely a step in the right direction. Try Neurolon for just one month and notice the substantial difference it will make to your cognitive function, you have nothing to lose and plenty to gain.

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