We’ve all heard about people building up a tolerance to caffeine over time. But did you know that we are all born with different levels of caffeine sensitivity? Finally, this explains why I’m such a caffeine lightweight!
This area is still being intensely studied and there is much to learn, but here’s what recent studies are suggesting.
There are three basic categories of caffeine sensitivity determined by how long it takes for your body to metabolize caffeine:
High Caffeine Sensitivity or Hypersensitive (Caffeine Lightweight)
I’m definitely in this category. My mid-morning mug of coffee consists of half a teaspoon of instant coffee in a giant mug topped with half water and half milk. It’s barely brown in colour let alone black. But I fear if I made it any stronger I’d be bouncing off the walls and getting the shakes. I’ve always wondered why this is so. It turns out it’s all to do with genetics and some people simply can’t handle very much caffeine. Even one cup of coffee can cause caffeine overdose symptoms like the jitters, insomnia and headaches.
Normal Caffeine Sensitivity (Another Cup? No Problem)
Most people fall under this category and can handle a few cups of coffee a day without side effects. However, they may have trouble sleeping if they consume caffeine later in the day.
Low Caffeine Sensitivity or Hyposensitive (Caffeine Crushing Machine)
These people can pretty much consume as much caffeine as they want but feel no side effects, and can even go to sleep right after drinking a large dose of caffeine. The problem for these folk is that they may need to consume lots of caffeine to get desired effects such as wakefulness, and there is evidence that over-consumption of caffeine can do damage over time.
While I sometimes wish I could handle an after-dinner espresso without my heart racing, I’m definitely glad I’m not hyposensitive to caffeine. My milky mug of instant is enough to give me a mid-morning boost and I’m happy to stick with tea for the rest of the day.
What about you? Which category of caffeine sensitivity do you think you fall under?