It is 6 am we have get up and go to work. We feel sleepy, unhappy and some of us, like me, feel grouchy. So the first stop is the coffee brewer for a cup of great coffee. A few minutes later the world looks better. We feel warmer and happier. We are ready for a new day. Why? Most of us think it is the caffeine that is making us feel good, but it isn’t the caffeine.
The caffeine in coffee does have an effect. It is a central nervous system stimulant. It makes us more alert, less drowsy and less fatigued. It is the ideal early morning wake up call. Caffeine also increases blood pressure, which may or may not be a good thing.
If caffeine was the reason for our mood change than we could drink a Coke or a Red Bull. However, it wouldn’t have the same effect. Caffeine blocks adenosine a neurotransmitter in the brain that promotes sleep, but caffeine doesn’t produce feelings of happiness.
There are hundreds of studies on the effect of coffee on both long term and short term personality. Most of them find that coffee does have a positive effect on our mood and even on long term personality. However, many relate these effects to the caffeine in the coffee. More recent studies have shown it isn’t the caffeine. Decaffeinated coffee, for example, doesn’t affect feelings of fatigue, but it does make us feel happier.
Modern studies have concluded that coffee makes us happier because it stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine produces feelings of euphoria and reduces depression.
So drink great coffee and be happy!