Caffeine on the body and whether you should take a break

Most of us rely on coffee to get us through the week.

And when the weekend rolls around, it’s only natural to indulge in our favourite caffeinated beverage – whether it’s when we are out for brunch with friends, or mooching around the park.

We’re creatures of habit, after all.

But, as most of us drink coffee during the week to help us to focus and power through, should we be giving our bodies a break at weekends when we are supposed to be relaxing?

Not everyone experiences caffeine in the same way (Picture: Getty)

Dr Corinna Chidley, a programme leader for BSc physical activity, nutrition and health at the University of Derby, explains: ‘Coffee contains caffeine which is a drug that stimulates your brain and central nervous system. We all have sleep-promoting receptors in our brain called adenosine receptors. Adenosine is a chemical that accumulates over the day and contributes to feelings of tiredness and fatigue. Caffeine works by blocking these receptor sites keeping us feeling awake and alert.

‘However, our body adapts. If we regularly consume caffeine our bodies produce more and more adenosine receptors, and therefore more caffeine is needed to help keep us feeling alert.

‘If we are used to consuming caffeine and then suddenly reduce that amount (or stop all together), we still have a greater number of adenosine receptors but less caffeine to bind to these sites. This often results in caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and irritability.’

Dr Corianna says that if you consume a couple of cups a day throughout the working week, it’s recommended to maintain this (in some capacity) over the weekend to avoid withdrawal symptoms – otherwise it might ‘potentially put a damper on your activities.’

However Dr Jeremy Harris, a senior partner at The Private GP Group, stresses that not everyone experiences caffeine in the same way.

He says: ‘It’s important to note that caffeine affects individuals differently, and moderate consumption is generally considered safe for most healthy adults.

‘It’s always a good idea to listen to your body, be mindful of your caffeine consumption, and make informed choices based on your own tolerance and sensitivity.’

So, for some people, a weekend break can be beneficial.

He adds: ‘Taking a break from caffeine can help reduce dependency, improve sleep quality, and alleviate any tolerance that may have built up over time.’

Also, holistic counselling psychologist Sarah Davies says if you feel stressed or anxious then a break from coffee is recommended, not just at weekends, but all together.

She says: ‘Our typically busy lives already activates and heightens our sympathetic nervous system more than enough and the consumption of caffeine only adds to that.

‘It’s important we give our bodies and minds an opportunity to properly rest and for our nervous systems to settle.

‘Taking a break from coffee can help with this – as can rest and a variety of relaxation techniques.’

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