Do you struggle to start your day without coffee? Lots of us feel like we need it to get going in the morning or to perk us up at 3p.m. when the afternoon slump hits, but as much as we love coffee, science recommends taking a regular break from it. The thing is, coffee can help increase energy, as well as focus and productivity, but only if you do a periodic caffeine reset.
Okay, here’s the technical part. The neurotransmitter adenosine builds up in your system throughout the day and it’s one reason you feel sleepy. Leftover amounts of adenosine are still in the brain when you wake up, making it tough for you to get going in the morning. But caffeine blocks adenosine from binding to receptors in the brain and when it can’t bind, you feel alert and awake. The only problem? It doesn’t work like that indefinitely.
The body eventually recognizes that adenosine isn’t binding, so it creates more receptors. Research shows that after three days of consistent caffeine intake, the number of receptors significantly increases. More receptors means you need more coffee to kick-start your day, more coffee to keep you going. But research also shows that taking a seven-day break from caffeine can reverse that. It reduces your tolerance and increases the boost you feel when you start drinking coffee again. That’s why some experts, like Ashley Richmond, founder of Momentum Habits, recommend taking a week off from coffee every month.