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Your Brain on FoodHow Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings$
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Gary Wenk

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388541.001.0001

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Sleeping Versus Waking

Sleeping Versus Waking

(p.123) chapter 7 Sleeping Versus Waking
Your Brain on Food

Gary L. Wenk

Oxford University Press

The anti-histamines you take to treat your cold symptoms make you drowsy while coffee can keep you awake. These two rather complex processes of the brain — waking and sleeping — are partially controlled by two simple molecules, histamine and adenosine. Histamine is a neurotransmitter; its release from neurons influences our level of arousal throughout the day: more histamine means greater arousal, less histamine function means drowsiness. This is why anti-histamines make you drowsy; they antagonize the ability of adenosine to keep your brain active. When the neurotransmitter adenosine is released in the brain it can bind to receptors that are on acetylcholine neurons. The action of adenosine is to reduce the activity of these neurons making it more difficult to remain awake and pay attention to our surroundings. The longer you are awake the more adenosine is released into the brain. These is partly why being awake for a long time makes you drowsy and why coffee can reduce this feeling and help you stay awake longer.

Keywords:   adenosine, histamine, coffee, tea, chocolate, diabetes, asian palm civet, orexin

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