Many of us rely on our daily cup of coffee or tea to feel alert and awake. Missing our morning cup of Joe can do more than cause grogginess and sleepiness; it can also induce a pounding headache. Drinkers of coffee and other caffeinated beverages experience caffeine withdrawal headaches after missing a dose of their drug due to a change in brain chemistry.
In SciShow's video، "Why Does Skipping Coffee Give Me Headaches?" host Hank Green explains caffeine works in our body by interfering with the molecule adenosine. This molecule is found throughout the body، but in the brain it functions by regulating different neurotransmitters، and can influence how sleepy we feel. Adenosine binds to receptors on the brain cells over the course of the day، telling the brain to step on the brakes.
Caffeine molecules look similar to adenosine molecules، which means caffeine can bind to the exact same receptors، and block their function. This means caffeine stops adenosine from functioning properly، while stimulating neurotransmitters are still around. This is why we feel energized after drinking a cup of coffee.
The biochemistry behind caffeine withdrawal still remains unclear. However، some studies suggest having caffeine on a daily basis causes our brain cells to make more adenosine receptors to compensate for the blockage، and keep the brain working normally. If there's no coffee، there are now extra receptors for adenosine to bind to، changing neurotransmitter levels، and making us feel sleepier. Changes in blood flow and electrical activity start to occur. Therefore، when brain chemistry changes، it's most likely to lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Other studies suggest withdrawal can be influenced by a psychological phenomenon known as expectancy. For example، if we're aware that withdrawal headaches are a thing، we might expect them to happen، and that expectation could influence what symptoms we actually experience. A 2004 review of over 50 papers from medical literature found at least some studies of caffeine withdrawal were sufficiently designed to keep expectancy from affecting their results.
It seems caffeine withdrawal has a psychological and physiological impact on our health. Caffeine withdrawal headaches can be treated the same way as other headaches. For example، the use of peppermint oil activates cold-sensitive receptors in the skin، giving off a cooling feeling to soothe the pain،
We should think twice before committing to our daily morning and afternoon caffeine beverages for a boost.