Coding: Does drinking coffee helps you coding?

drinking coffee image featured

Now that I catch your attention, let’s have a coffee while reading this article?

We’re used to our body responses to physical and mental efforts – we get tired. Bad sleeping, running, practice sports, working… these are all situations that increase our fatigue. And this happens because of some biological responses behind!

During the day, our body produces Adenosine, that binds to specific brain receptors, inhibiting the nervous system and causing tiredness. Basically, this process is essential for us to feel sleepy, helping the proper functioning of our circadian rhythm.

In this case, where does coffee come in and how does it help us to feel more awake?

The composition.

Coffee, and other products such as certain teas, chocolates and even ice cream, have caffeine in their composition, which binds to various molecular receptors in our brain, functioning as a stimulant for our nervous system.

When we drink coffee, caffeine molecules enter our circulatory system, traveling to our brain.

Both caffeine and adenosine are molecules from the xanthine group, this is, part of their structure is identical. This makes caffeine an antagonistic molecule for adenosine receptors, which means that they will compete for the same cell receptors in our brain.

coding image drinking coffee

Image: Adenosine vs. Caffeine molecules. Green highlights indicate the similar structure regions between both molecules.

It’s nothing but healthy competition!

When there are adenosine and caffeine molecules traveling in our blood system, is more likely that the cell receptors bind to caffeine molecules. Thus, when competing for these spots, the caffeine molecules reduce the number of adenosines that bind to the receptors and, consequently, the sleeping sensation is reduced, and the alertness is increased.

So, this is how coffee helps us to have energy for coding, you may ask?

Negative, my friend! This action does not exactly promote energy production in our bodies.

Its action is to prevent you from feeling drowsy and tired, since the molecules responsible for this sensation are deprived of doing their job.

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Image: Caffeine and Adenosine competition for brain cellular receptors.

We can say then that caffeine tricks our brain to fell less tired, avoiding the sleepy signs.

When caffeine leaves our body, adenosine molecules still ager to do its job and the feeling of tiredness sets in again. It’s time for another cup of coffee, the Kryptonite of our sleep!

But be careful, you need to pay attention to quantities!

How much is too much?

Attention now! Caffeine also causes neuronal excitation in the brain, which is recognized by the pituitary gland as an emergency and stimulates the adrenal glands to release adrenaline – the source of the “fight or flight”!

This makes us react more quickly, instead of acting deliberately. Such an effect may be excellent if we are being chased by a wild lion, but not so good when we must find that crazy lost comma in the middle of a code with hundreds of lines.

Did you know that… caffeine also raises the dopamine levels? This substance works as some opioid drugs, binding to neurotransmitters responsible for sending messages between the brain and the body. Although on a much smaller scale, this is why some scientists defend caffeine as an addictive product.

Beware of too much caffeine!

The truth is that this molecule can disturb our sleep cycle, make us sleep worse and therefore reduce our quality of life. Sleeping is essential for the body and the brain to launch their nightly Jobs of restoring the system, ensuring its proper functioning, with the best response from all its “APIs”.

Without a good night’s sleep, our body is unable to have the energy it needs for all the metabolic and physical processes we need daily.

In addition, caffeine excess can also increase our heart rate and make us feel more jittery and anxious.

As it is a molecule that causes some dependence, the lack of caffeine can also cause a reduction in cognitive performance and have a negative impact on our mood. To get back to normal, you need a new dose of caffeine, which can bring good performance, but it will only be for a short period.

But I drink coffee and I’m still sleepy…

It’s true, there are people for whom coffee has no effect. And genetics appears to be the primarily responsible! However, even what we eat (the nutrients) can influence this effect.

This is a subject that has been studied and the scientific community already lists some factors for the difference in the effect of caffeine in humans:

  • Different ability to metabolize (digest) coffee.
  • Number of neurotransmitters (receptors) available to receive caffeine.
  • Binding capacity (affinity) between receptors and caffeine molecules (genetic issues).
  • The body’s resistance to caffeine molecules, where receptors are no longer fooled, due, for example, to excessive consumption.

In fact, coffee doesn’t help you Coding because it doesn’t know any technology, but if you’re lucky, if your genetics allow it, and if you use the right dose, it can help you keep your senses alert!

I hope you have enjoyed this article!


A coffee lover that doesn’t live without her morning coffee. 😊

Flávia Leitão
Business Analyst at Polarising

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