Coffee Facts: Can Coffee Relax You?
Although Caffeine is known for its ability to boost energy and wake people up, it might also help relax people. This is how and why coffee can relax you.
The Nature of Caffeine
Coffee, and other caffeinated beverages are considered psychoactive drugs, meaning that they can change the functions of the nervous system, creating side effects such as changes in mood, behavior, and cognizance.
Since caffeine is a relatively gentle psychoactive drug, people can drink it multiple times a day without drastic effect (when drank moderately). In fact, coffee is the most largely consumed psychoactive drug on the market today, to the point where people don’t normally consider coffee to be a drug.
Examples of stronger psychoactive drugs include alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, and other medicines.
How Does Coffee Work?
Caffeine works to keep people awake by preventing receptors in the brain from attaching to certain chemicals, which signify the need for sleep or rest.
Adenosine is a chemical in the brain that makes people feel tired. When adenosine molecules are released in the brain, certain unique receptors attach to the molecules, sending signals of relaxation and sleepiness. However, when one consumes caffeine, caffeine molecules mimic adenosine, and attach to the same receptors that adenosine molecules usually do.
This has a different effect, making one feel more awake, and eliminating the sleep-inducing effect of adenosine. Since caffeine takes about two hours to become most concentrated in the bloodstream, its effects are only noticeable a few hours after consumption. The half-life of caffeine is about ten hours, so the stimulating effect of caffeine usually begins to fade after 8 to 10 hours.
While caffeine can make people feel less sleepy, it is only a temporary effect that isn’t truly tangible. Since the effect occurs through chemicals creating different signals in the brain, the human mind doesn’t feel tired, but once the effect of the caffeine wears off, it still requires adequate rest. Due to this, overconsumption of caffeine can cause negative effects that are fueled by a lack of rest or sleep.
Can Coffee Decrease Anxiety?
Along with preventing the human mind from registering tiredness, caffeine also releases certain chemicals that can benefit mood and happiness.
Caffeine releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that invokes the feeling of pleasure. Known as the “happy hormone,” dopamine can increase motivation, improve mood, and increase attention span. But, it also plays an essential role in mental health, and can cause diseases if it is not consumed in the right amounts.
Negative effects of caffeine on stress and mental health have also been observed. For instance, this research reported higher anxiety levels in moderate and high caffeine consumers compared with abstainers in a student sample.
On the other hand, low doses of caffeine have been shown to reduce anxiety, elevate mood and associated with reduced risk of depression with some groups of people.
While coffee can have many benefits, including relaxation and reduced anxiety, excess of any form of caffeine can lead to serious consequences that far outway the benefits.
Drinking too much coffee can actually lead to more anxiety, lack of sleep, and burnout. It can also cause many health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels, and more.
So, Should You Drink Coffee to Relax?
Depending on the person, coffee can have negative or positive effects. While some studies have linked coffee with both increases and decreases in relaxation, it truly depends on the person drinking the coffee, the amount of coffee they consume, and whether they drink it in a healthy, smart way.
When it is consumed wisely, coffee can have many claimed health benefits, one of which is an increase in relaxation and happiness.