Caffeine & Focused Work

Caffeine & Focused Work

For most people, coffee is an important part of their daily ritual. Without a doubt, caffeine increases alertness, but does that mean it improves focus?

There’s a lot of reliable data that supports the idea that caffeine can improve mental and physical performance, if consumed in the appropriate doses.

So what’s the appropriate dose? It differs from person to person, how caffeine adapted you are, whether you’ve been fasting or not.

The appropriate dose is going to vary tremendously based on these factors. However, there is a general range in which we can consider caffeine as being useful for focus and concentration. And that’s between 100 and 400 mg. As a general warning, if you’re someone who suffers from anxiety or panic attacks and caffeine isn’t something you consume regularly, going straight to 400 mg of caffeine is going to be quite an uncomfortable experience. So be cautious with your use and adoption of caffeine. On average, 100 - 200mg of caffeine prior to getting into a bout of focused work is going to be optimal for most people. 

It’s also recommended that you delay your caffeine intake for 90 to 120 minutes after waking up. So that you give your brain time to power up naturally before you give it a boost. A great tool you can use to feel more alert first thing in the morning is to drink 300 to 500 ml of water right after you wake up.

Caffeine is known to increase the quantity and the efficiency of function of your dopamine receptors. What this means is that by ingesting caffeine regularly, you’re increasing the ability of your dopamine to increase motivation and drive.

As we all know, caffeine also increases alertness. Which is largely related to how it affects the adenosine neurochemical systems. Adenosine is a molecule that builds up in our brain and body the longer we spend awake. It’s part of what makes us feel sleepy over time. The more it builds up the more fatigued we feel.

Caffeine also operates on the adrenal system, which you may have noticed from time to time when you’ve consumed too much caffeine and gotten the jitters. The positive side to this is that in the right quantities, the adrenaline release in the brain and body is part of how it supports your ability to focus and concentrate.

However, it’s also important to limit your caffeine intake to specific hours so as not to mess with your sleep cycle. For most people it’s recommended to cut off your caffeine intake before 2 pm so that you give yourself the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep.

Even if you’re someone who can fall asleep and stay asleep easily after having caffeine, all the research points to the fact that the structure and depth of your sleep will be disrupted if you’ve had caffeine in the evening. 

In short, the sleep you’ll get simply won’t be as good as if you;ve stopped your caffeine intake at least 8 hours before your bedtime.

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