The Plain Truth

The Plain Truth
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Caffeine Actually Does To Your Brain

For all of its wild popularity, caffeine is one seriously misunderstood substance. It’s not a simple upper, and it works differently on different people with different tolerances — even in different menstrual cycles. But you can make it work better for you.
Photo by rbrwr.
Editor’s Note: This was first published on Lifehacker Australia, and it’s still incredibly relevant to Sleep Week, especially considering all those vodka and Red Bull’s you’ll be drinking tonight at the club. Perhaps you should read this first?
We’ve covered all kinds of caffeine “hacks”, from taking “caffeine naps” to getting “optimally wired”. But when it comes to why so many of us love our coffee, tea or soft-drink fixes, and what they actually do to our busy brains, we’ve never really dug in.
While there’s a whole lot one can read on caffeine, most of it falls in the realm of highly specific medical research or often conflicting anecdotal evidence. Luckily one intrepid reader and writer has actually done that reading, weighed that evidence and put together a highly readable treatise on the subject. Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine, by Stephen R. Braun, is well worth the short 224-page read. It was released in 1997, but remains the most accessible treatise on what is and isn’t understood about what caffeine and alcohol do to the brain. It’s not a social history of coffee, or a lecture on the evils of mass-market soft drinks — it’s condensed but clean science.

What follows is a brief explainer on how caffeine affects productivity, drawn from Buzz and other sources noted at bottom. We also sent Braun a few of the questions that arose while reading, and he graciously agreed to answer them.

Caffeine Doesn’t Actually Get You Wired  MORE>>>>>>>>>>

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