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Caffeine

Every single year, about 100,000 metric tons of caffeine are used by children and adults all over the world (“How does caffeine keeps us awake, 2017”. This figure shows that caffeine has become part of a human being’s diet. Caffeine gets consumed by most individuals with the belief that the caffeine makes them alert, either in the day or at night. Caffeine is used by most individuals to act as a stimulant. But how does caffeine keep us awake? Is it the chemical components in the caffeine, or is it jus free will, the belief that taking caffeine keeps one awake?

In my opinion, how caffeine keeps individuals awake and alert is purely chemistry and biology. As explained in the TED-Ed video, caffeine acts as a stimulant in our bodies, the central nervous system, to be specific. Caffeine does this by acting as an inhibitor to adenosine. Adenosine is a substance in our brains that plays a role in inducing sleep. The body functions by breaking down Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) that releases energy. The energy is necessary for the normal functioning of the body.

The process of breaking down ATP leads to the release of adenosine. A human being’s brain has receptors that resemble adenosine’s structure. When adenosine fits into these receptors, some chemical reaction is activated that slows down the normal brain functioning. This is why an individual feels tired and sleepy.

The structure of caffeine resembles those of adenosine, only that they are smaller. Intake of caffeine blocks some of the adenosine from fitting into the receptors in the brain. Since caffeine is smaller, the chemical reaction that blocks important signals in our brains is not activated. This is how caffeine keeps us awake.

References

How does caffeine keep us awake?. (2017). Retrieved 18 January 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foLf5Bi9qXs



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