I know I am treading on holy ground here. People need their coffee in the morning to get moving. It is a sacrosanct consumable of Christians and non-Christians everywhere. My wife loves coffee in the morning, as do so many people I know. I hear people joke about their mornings without coffee and how unbearable they are without it. It is all done in good humor. But what if that is telling us something? What if the fact that we can barely function without coffee is telling us something about our sleep? Now that you know I am not writing about the coffee but about sleep, you can breathe easily and read the article.
Caffeine is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and an organic molecule called methylxanthine. It has different effects on the body through the chemical methylxanthine. First, caffeine blocks the reuptake of adenosine. Without getting too technical, ATP or Adenosine Tri Phosphate is like the gasoline in your engines (mitochondria). Once you use the gasoline for energy, it is broken down into ADP (Adenosine Di Phosphate), which goes through a process to add another Phosphate to it so you have more gasoline in your tanks (ATP). The problem is that you can't make enough ATP throughout the day to replace what you have used. The brain, in particular, uses about 25-35% of your energy (ATP). Since you can't replace it fast enough, adenosine begins to build up, and this causes drowsiness. Our ATP (gasoline) is restored when we sleep, and extra adenosine is disposed of. Yea! Unless you didn't get enough sleep or you didn't get enough good restorative REM and Deep Sleep. Then you are still drowsy when you wake up.
One of the things that your morning coffee delivers to your system is caffeine which BLOCKS the uptake of adenosine. In other words, your brain doesn't know it has leftover adenosine that needs to be dealt with, and you feel less tired or even envigorated after your first cup of joe.
Caffeine binds to adenosine receptors, which in turn block the binding of adenosine to its receptor. The blockage of adenosine receptors indirectly affects the release of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, glutamate, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). An influx in these neurotransmitters alters mood, memory, alertness, and cognitive function .
So not only does caffeine shut off the drowsy switch, but it turns on other switches that can improve mood and functions. I know you are asking, "What is wrong with that?" Right? The other thing caffeine does is help release calcium into your nerves, which can be a good thing most of the time, but it has a downside. The last thing we know caffeine does is inhibit the release of phosphodiesterases. This increases hormones, such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, that boost mood and function. Wonder drug, right? Let's think it through.
If you NEED your coffee in the morning to function, to be happy, or to think, then you have other issues that the central nervous system stimulant is solving. I am not saying, lest I be crucified, canceled, and doxed, do not drink coffee or that coffee is evil. God created it! I am saying that if you NEED it, then at the very least, you are not recovering enough in your sleep. Your mood and function can have other causes that have to do with other hormones, and even your circadian rhythm can be wacky, leading to waking up tired, but more times than not, your total sleep time and quality sleep are the problems. These things need to be addressed for dozens of reasons concerning longevity and quality of life.
Sleep is mandatory; in the morning, your body will tell you how your sleep was last night. Needing coffee is likely a symptom of the poor condition of your sleep. Sleep is a gift, but in our modern world, it seems much harder to enjoy and master this gift. Here are three basic things you can do to improve your sleep.
1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
2. When you wake up, get as much direct sunlight as possible for 10 minutes
3. Find the temperature your body likes most, usually around 67 or so, and create that temperature in your room.
There are so many more hacks, but for now, sweet dreams…