Of course we all know that caffeine keeps us awake, duh, but how does it do it and is that the only thing is does? The magic behind the “keeping us awake” affect from caffeine has to do with blocking special receptors for adenosine which makes us tired. In other words, it is like keeping your break pedals from functioning in your car.
Other effects of caffeine include: alertness, mental performance, increased social support behavior, increase in productivity, improves short-term memory, etc. It has a lot of cognitive enhancing properties. One study even concluded employees under the effects of caffeine reduced the risk of workplace accidents. Pretty cool stuff eh?
Caffeine does work differently on different people. Some experience the effects more and some less. When people are well rested and mentally “fresh” then caffeine doesn’t play as big of a roll in blocking those receptors.
Also, as I’ve pointed out, caffeine effects mostly mental attributes and therefore people with different mental states are affected differently. People with anxiety don’t play well with caffeine whereas more depressive people will gain productivity. Many researchers are seeing more and more teens, as well as adults, become dependent on caffeine which deprives them of the type of restoration sleep they need.
A great theory by Stephen Braun suggests taking caffeine breaks, or “caffeine holidays”, 5 or 6 times a year. Braun goes on to say that “tapering down” by drinking black and peppermint teas are great ways to slowly get away from the caffeine addiction. That way the first choice of caffeine intake after the break will feel quite stimulating.