Consuming caffeine in the form of coffee or tea, or energy drinks has become such a common phenomenon amongst youth these days. Students are on such a busy schedule that they create a dependence on caffeinated beverages to keep them going. Apart from students, many working adults like office goers and full-time tutors are also becoming trapped into this.
Caffeine is ingested to relieve drowsiness, stimulate the central nervous system, and enhance one’s performance. When caffeine is being consumed regularly and over a long period of time, this may result in a dependence, that is both psychological and physiological.
How does caffeine work?
Caffeine is from the methylxanthine class which is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. It is a cheap CNS stimulant and its widely available in the form of tea, coffee and energy drinks of various brands, which makes it easy for individuals to be hooked on to it. Those who consume it would develop a dependence on it over time.
When we look at its toxicokinetics, caffeine is very quickly absorbed into the system within an hour of its entry orally. The plasma concentrations would be at its peak in about an hour and a half after consumption.
Its work on the brain
Caffeine binds to adenosine receptors, through competitive binding. This means that caffeine has a similar molecular structure to the adenosine molecules and hence a complimentary shape to the adenosine receptors.
Caffeine molecules would hence block the binding of adenosine to its receptor. This prevents an individual from getting drowsy and allows them to stay alert and awake.
Caffeine also leads to a release of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, and it also stimulates glucose utilization in the caudate nucleus, which controls motor activity and our sleep-wake cycle.
Caffeine withdrawal syndrome
Caffeine withdrawal syndrome is a condition that people suffer from after abrupt cessation of caffeine intake. Multiple studies have been done to conclude that caffeine-withdrawal syndrome is a clinical condition and hence it is now added in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5).
Although low to moderate doses of caffeine is known induce happiness, give energy, and alertness, it should not be taken regularly over a long period of time. Higher doses of caffeine would produce symptoms of anxiety such as tremors, an upset stomach, and palpitations which affect the quality of one’s life adversely.
The best way to tackle caffeine withdrawal syndrome is to re-administer caffeine and encourage the individual to wean off it slowly over a long period of time.
THE IMPACT ON STUDENTS
Caffeine addiction is one of the unhealthiest trends among youth these days and this is a call for concern. If students do not take care of their body at this young age, it will soon wear out and be unable to cope with changes in the following phases of life. Along with the consumption of caffeine students tend to mess up their sleep schedule as well.
This non-obedience to the circadian rhythm of the body causes hormonal imbalance and opens a whole new can of worms. This downward spiral is the leading cause of the rise in cases of polycystic ovarian syndrome and menstrual irregularities among young adolescent girls.
HEALTH IS WEALTH
Our health is of utmost importance and needs to be taken care of. It is with the help of this body that we are able to get our work done and achieve our goals in life. Should we lead an unhealthy lifestyle, this would be an act of disrespect to the body that is meant to support you till your very last breathe!
Other articles you may be interested in: