Coffee — the science of staving off sleep

Coffee — the science of staving off sleep

Cup of coffee and coffee beansWe all know coffee is the solution if you’re feeling sleepy. But how does it actually keep you awake? Let’s take a look.

Caffeine through the ages

While tea is generally considered the quintessential British drink, coffee has actually been popular here for just as long! In fact, our love of the drink dates back as far as the 1600s, the exact same century that tea was introduced here.

If anything, coffee was initially more popular. Coffee shops cropped up all around the capital, giving the people of the day a place to meet up and ruminate over whatever was going on in the world.

Coffee today

Fast-forward a few hundred years, and we’re still meeting in coffee shops to chew the fat. In fact, coffee is enjoying a renaissance after so many years in tea’s shadow — as we each (or at least most of us) get through gallons of it, to keep us energised throughout our hectic lifestyles.

Here’s the thing though — after all this time, we’ve only just figured out how the stuff works. Sure, we’ve known for a while that it’s the caffeine that keeps us alert. But what does it actually do to our bodies to create the miracle morning transformation from moping zombie to zippy multitasker?

Finally, we (as in humans) have the technology to find out. So some scientists did just that, and the results are fascinating.

The science of (staving off) sleep

It turns out that caffeine works by blocking one of the body’s sleep-inducing molecules — adenosine. Normally, your body produces this in order to start the sleeping process. So by blocking the molecule, coffee essentially puts the brakes on sleep.

It also aids the flow of dopamine, which — as you probably know — makes you happy.

So there you go; two chemical processes that together make you more awake, and happier. That’s what we call a win/win — and yet another reason to enjoy a hot (or iced) cup of coffee when you’re feeling low.

In the workplace

For us, coffee is about more than just keeping you awake (although it will do that too). Coffee is a chance for you to take a break, to meet with colleagues, recoup, and ready yourself for whatever the day might throw at you. It’s not just a great-tasting drink — it’s great for the workplace in general.

Take a look at our website to find out more about how our micromarkets (and the coffee they provide) enhance workplaces around the UK.