Updated: May 13, 2020
I've recently been reading a book called 'How to Build a Healthy Brain' by the wonderful Kimberly Wilson and it's lead me on a small journey of discovery to understand the benefits of coffee and why it may be causing us to stay up at night.
Let's discuss the benefits you can receive from your daily intake of caffeine. In fermented coffee (coffee that is washed during processing) polyphenols can be produced which can help to enhance the elasticity of blood vessels allowing blood to flow more freely. Blood that can flow more freely will provide more nutrients to you around your body, given you have a good diet alongside it. Polyphenols will also feed your gut microbiome (the brain of your gut) and converts them into phenolic acids, these acids aide your brain making it more neuroprotective. Neuro meaning brain, so this will ultimately help protect your brain.
An issue you may or may not find with coffee is that it is rich in caffeine. Caffeine is an organic chemical that can be used as a natural stimulant. It has the remarkable ability of making us feel more awake than we truly are by impairing our adenosine receptors, these are the receptors that inform our body that we are tired and may need to rest. If we continue to use caffeine throughout the day and even into the evening we may be at risk of not allowing our body to shut down and provide us with the rest we need.
Why is sleep so important? With the rise of mental health issues throughout the world, there have been studies linking sleep as a main concern. A lack of sleep could lead to;
- Anxiety Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
If we find ourselves up at night from excessive coffees throughout the day it my be recommended that you reduce your intake or stop drinking caffeine after 3pm, so your body will have six hours to reduce the amount of caffeine in your system. I'd also stress that if you're having problems sleeping it can stem from a multitude of reasons and it may not be caffeine that is the main concern.
Enough is Enough
It's very difficult to analyse the amount of caffeine in someones diet, as it's not just coffee that produces it, this can also be tea, chocolate, energy drinks and in medicine also. You should look at the method in which you're making your coffee, if you're drinking espresso you may find it interesting that there is more caffeine in using a pour-over as the recipes include more coffee. It's even harder to ask a barista the content of caffeine in the drink brewed as there are a multitude of chemical reactions within the growing and processing of coffee that will effect it.
If you're not sleeping well or feel high levels of anxiety, reduction in caffeine intake might be the solution. Coffee can be both rewarding and beneficial to us and our lifestyles but if mistreated there may be cause for concern, as with all things in life moderation is key. Now where's my coffee.
It is important that I stress that I am not a doctor and if you're suffering from a mental illness or have sleep difficulties please consult your doctor.