6 Reasons You’re Sensitive to Caffeine (and What to Have Instead)

If you’re already on your third giant cup of joe and it’s not even noon, you may want to consider whether it’s time to give your daily coffee break, well, a break. That’s because while coffee is a readily available source of caffeine, it’s also a common culprit for unwanted side effects that go beyond the jitters.

Caffeine acts as a stimulant in the central nervous system, which leads to a boost in alertness and energy, research has shown. It’s no wonder so many people make a beeline for Starbucks when they’re busy or short on snooze time.

Because of the size of its molecules, caffeine can easily pass through the membranes that line the digestive tract. This means that from your very first sip (or bite), the caffeine in your food or drink starts making its way to your bloodstream. Caffeine energizes the body by mimicking a compound called adenosine, which makes you feel awake, according to Sleep Doctor. This process strengthens the feel-good hormone dopamine and triggers the release of adrenaline, giving you a jolt of energy. A landmark study found that in healthy people, the average half-life — meaning how long something remains active in your body — is 5.7 hours from when it’s ingested. Because this is how long caffeine will remain active in your body, it’s also how long you can expect to feel its effects.

RELATED: Is Caffeine Bad for Those With Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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