Every morning for the last six or seven years I have gotten up and immediately made a cup of coffee. Surprisingly, I was in my mid twenties before I began drinking coffee. All I knew prior to that was that I hadn’t found a coffee that I enjoyed, but I also didn’t have an appreciation for it.
According to the Coffee Association of Canada, two out of three Canadians drink at least one cup of coffee a day. The average age to begin drinking coffee is between 16-18 (though lets face it, if you grew up with Gilmore Girls in your house then the age is probably the former).
So, to most, it would seem that coffee is a large staple in life. It has been statistically proven that once people have consumed a cup of coffee, they not only feel more alert and ready to tackle the day, but they also naturally feel happier.
Now of course this isn’t true for everyone. There are many people who cannot consume coffee simply because of the caffeine content. If you have insomnia, you know to stay away from caffeine. If you have anxiety, it’s incredibly likely that caffeine will make it rear its ugly head. In the end, you need to know your body and what your limitations are. For me personally, I drink only two cups of coffee a day, despite working in a coffee roastery. Any more and I have a belly ache. Though the caffeine content does seem to make me more alert, it also doesn’t prevent me from sleeping.
So, for those of you who can drink coffee, why does coffee make you happier? Well for starters it’s a stimulant. Consuming caffeine not only increases alertness and boosts your energy, but coffee also produces dopamine, adrenaline and adenosine.
Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that limits brain stimulation. When you consume a cup of coffee adenosine is sent to the brain, along with adrenaline and dopamine. Adenosine binds with the same receptors as the caffeine does, so the caffeine will prevent adenosine from reaching the brain therefore leaving us wide awake. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you may have noticed that you have built up a tolerance to caffeine (as I mentioned above for myself), this is because over time your brain will create more receptors, meaning you would need to increase your caffeine levels to feel the full affects.
Most of you already know about caffeine. Not only is it in coffee, but it’s found in tea, soda, energy drinks and pre-workout beverages. Back in my pharmacy days you could also get caffeine tablets called “Wake Ups” though I’m not sure if those are still on the market.
Caffeine is the hub of your “boost” while drinking your coffee. Caffeine sends neurotransmitters to the brain that stimulate it and sends your neurons firing. This sends a message to your pituitary gland, which releases your hormones to your adrenal glands and BOOM, ADRENALINE!
Adrenaline increases blood flow to your muscles. This sends your body into a “fight or flight” scenario. It increases your blood sugar levels and opens airways. In other words, it makes you feel a sort of “rush” that makes your body feel good!
The last important neurotransmitter in coffee is dopamine. You may have heard the term “energy negates energy” from anyone in the fitness world. This is because when you exercise you release dopamine to your brain; the elevated levels tend to lead to longer lasting energy throughout the day and improved moods.
Coffee also contains dopamine which is why people have stated they naturally feel happier after consuming it. Combining caffeine and dopamine will lead to increased levels of dopamine being sent to your brain, which also in turns slows its release from our brain. Proving that dopamine does actually make you “happier” longer.
Dopamine is also the cause for the “addiction” you may feel to coffee. Because dopamine makes you feel happier, your body will miss its intake and quite possibly lead to a crankier you!
All of this to say – yes, it’s true! Coffee does make you happy, so drink up!