A good mug of coffee is a great way to start the day – some people won’t even touch work until they’ve had their daily dose of caffeine. But how does caffeine affect productivity? Does it make you better, worse, or somewhere in between?
Let’s explore the effects of caffeine and how it helps and hinders you.
The Benefits of Caffeine
Caffeine is a drug that boosts your alertness levels. It does this because it’s an adenosine receptor antagonist. Adenosine is responsible for helping your body feel sleepy and ready for bed. Caffeine stops by “taking up” the spot where it does its job, thus preventing your body from feeling sleepy.
A study called Caffeine-Not Just a Stimulant found a whole range of positive productivity effects. In short, it found that it heightened the feeling of “having energy,” allowed for better reasoning and cognitive skills, improved focus, and fought off tiredness.
All of these are great benefits to have when you have a deadline looming in the distance. As such, caffeine can be a great way to clear out the sleepiness and start concentrating on your work.
What Happens When You Drink Too Much Caffeine?
However, it’s worth noting that caffeine is not a miracle “productivity drug” where more caffeine equals more work done. There are downsides to drinking too much of it, which means you need to be careful of your consumption.
For example, going too hard on the coffee will mean your body gets addicted to it. When this occurs, the productivity benefits of caffeine reverse. Instead of feeling normal without caffeine and energized when you drink it, you feel normal after drinking caffeine and sluggish without it.
At this point, you’re simply drinking caffeine in order to feel how you normally felt. As you may imagine, this isn’t really a productivity boost, as it is a hindrance when you can’t get a mug of java.
Drinking caffeine close to bedtime will also wreck havoc with your sleep pattern. Because caffeine is so good at blocking out adenosine, drinking some right before bed will mean your body won’t be able to feel sleepy while you’re in bed. This, in turn, leads to insomnia.
Too much caffeine can also raise anxiety and stress levels. This will mean you’re less focused on your work and more focused on what could go wrong or if you’re doing things correctly.
What Happens When You Drink Too Little Caffeine
If that doesn’t sound bad enough, there are problems that arise if you are addicted to it and attempt to cut down on it.
When you come down from a caffeine high, you may feel symptoms such as headaches as the body begins to “miss” the drug. You may also feel irritable and angry more often.
Not only that, but adenosine is now free to fill in its spot without caffeine blocking it. This causes sluggishness and sleepiness as your body becomes adjusted to the higher levels of adenosine.
Fortunately, these symptoms don’t last for a long time – around two to nine days. You can lessen the impacts of caffeine withdrawal by slowly stepping down your consumption, too. For example, replace a cup of coffee with a can of caffeinated soda and maintain that level until you feel better. Additionally, you can do more exercises to increase your Endorphins level. No time for exercise? An under-the desk trainer is best for you.
The Final Takeaway
In short, caffeine has many benefits that help you focus on your work. The problems begin when you start treating caffeine as “the more you drink, the better work you do.” Going overboard will instead give you negative effects, so it’s important to figure out how much is too much.
Everyone is different, and people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. It’s a good idea to log how much caffeine you drink in a day (two coffees, four teas, etc.) and keep tabs on how you’re feeling. If you start feeling negative effects, cut down on how much you drink and keep it there for a week to ride out any withdrawal symptoms.
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