Jonathan Campbell

Caffeine - The Good, The Bad, The Withdraw

… coffee sets the blood in motion and stimulates the muscles; it accelerates the digestive processes, chases away sleep, and gives us the capacity to engage a little longer in the exercise of our intellects.

– Honoré de Balzac (paraphrasing Brillat-Savarin) Traité des Excitants Modernes(1838), (translated from the French by Robert Onopa)

Coffee is probably unique amongst all great old-timey discoveries in that its maybe the only one where we actually have a name for the person who first discovered it.

Kaldi, in case you’re wondering. Thank Kaldi everyday.


Cognitive Performance

Evidence is presented that caffeine can enhance certain types of cognitive performance, most notably vigilance and reaction times, in rested individuals regardless of whether or not they are regular caffeine users. The response to caffeine in caffeine users has been shown to be over and above any alleviation of withdrawal symptoms.

When naps are not an option, caffeine alone could be used to partially alleviate sleep deprivation-induced impairments in cognitive behavior. Combining naps with judicious caffeine use may be the best remedy for sleep deprivation-induced decrements in cognitive function in military situations where adequate sleep cannot be obtained.


Caffeine can significantly improve physical performance of an endurance nature.

Scientists from the Department of Physiology of the University of Granada have shown that caffeine ingested half an hour before aerobic exercise significantly increases the rate of fat-burning. They also found that if the exercise is performed in the afternoon, the effects of the caffeine are more marked than in the morning. Subjects ingested 3 mg/kg of caffeine or a placebo at 8am and 5pm


Anxiety disorders

The resemblance between the symptoms of excessive caffeine ingestion and those of anxiety is obvious and they may both have a basis in overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system. It has been argued that the symptoms of caffeinism are indistinguishable from those of anxiety. Caffeinism is normally associated with a daily intake of 1000–1500 mg.

Clinically, caffeine may be involved in the precipitation, exacerbation or maintenance of anxiety disorders.

Sleep disorders

It is well-known that caffeine produces insomnia. It reduces slow-wave sleep in the early part of the sleep cycle and can reduce rapid eye movement (REM) sleep later in the cycle. Caffeine increases episodes of wakefulness, and high doses in the late evening can increase the time taken to fall asleep.


Caffeine works by causing your brain to overproduce dopamine. Dopamine is made from L-Dopa, which is made from Tyrosine, which is made from Phenylalanine. Extended caffeine use uses up your stores of Tyrosine and Phenylalanine, so your brain reduces its dopamine production to conserve them. It then takes progressively more caffeine to force your brain to use its remaining amino acid stores to produce dopamine- meaning you consume more caffeine, let have less energy and feel terrible.


Headache, fatigue, decreased energy/activeness, decreased alertness, drowsiness, decreased contentedness, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and feeling foggy/not clearheaded.


Tyrosine or Phenylalanine pills, 500 mg each.

  • For the first two days, take 1000 mg of your chosen supplement first thing in the morning, and another 1000 mg at lunch.
  • For the next two days, take 500 mg first thing in the morning, and another 500 mg at lunch.
  • For two days after that, take 500 mg first thing in the morning only.

See Also