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Is Coffee Really Making You More Productive?

As a sleep-deprived barista and college student, coffee has always been my savior. Whether I was about to do homework, go shopping, work out, or hang out with friends, coffee was always involved. I never saw an issue with this way of life recently. Waking up at 4 am for my opening shifts lead to me chugging cold brews throughout my shifts, and chugging more to get things done once I got home. I started experiencing headaches and nausea, and I never felt fully rested. One day I decided to do some research to connect the dots of my symptoms to my coffee intake, and what I found was alarming. 


A regular functioning brain produces a natural amount of Adenosine receptors. Adenosine receptors are what tell your brain that you are tired and need rest. When you drink caffeine, the adenosine gets knocked out of the way to make room for the caffeine, since they occupy the same space in your brain. When you drink a cup of coffee, you get a rush of adrenaline, an unnatural amount of dopamine, and your adenosine receptors get pushed to the side. The more coffee you drink, the more your brain produces adenosine, because your brain is now having to work harder to tell your body to rest. This causes you to be constantly and increasingly indebted to your multitude of adenosine. While drinking copious amounts of coffee, your brain is theoretically telling your body it is more tired than it would be if you had no caffeine at all. 


Furthermore, coffee gives you adrenaline that can lead to increased levels of anxiety. Before I gave up coffee, I frequently experienced being too hyped up and anxious to get anything done, as a result of drinking coffee to get things done. I’ve found that I can center myself and become much more focused on getting tasks done without coffee, because my mind is calm and my body is not living in a constant fight or flight zone. 


Lastly, the copious amounts of unnatural dopamine that coffee gives you actually makes it harder to do lower dopamine activities. High dopamine activities include social media, eating junk food, watching tv, or drinking coffee. These are activities that give you instant gratification. The more high dopamine activities you partake in, the harder it is to convince your mind to focus on low dopamine activities, such as reading or doing homework. Some people even do dopamine detoxes where they cut out all high dopamine activities for a day in order to reset their brains. Cutting out the high dopamine activity that is coffee can actually make it easier for your brain to accept that you are doing a low dopamine activity. 


While I have been a self proclaimed coffee addict since high school, giving up coffee has actually been one of the best decisions for both my personal and professional life. I’m more calm, focused, stable, and less tired since I gave up my cold brews. Although I’m sure I’ll have a few cups of coffee here and there in the future (for emergencies), a coffee free life is feeling better for my body and brain. 

Emily Griffin (she/her) is a Senior at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a Special Education Major and a Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies Minor. Her writing mainly focuses on hot topic issues, female empowerment in all forms, and social media + all that comes with it. Her hobbies include grabbing a coffee and being a Virgo.
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