top of page

Caffeine - everything you need to know.

Backed by History

85% of people consume a caffeinated drink daily and it has been that way for thousands of years(Mitchell et al., 2014).

Chinese legend tells us tea as a source of caffeine was first used in about 3,000 BCE.

We don’t just get caffeine from coffee beans, it's in cocoa beans and therefore your chocolate digestives, tea leaves, so remember that when sipping your 4 o'clock brew, and even holly leaves and some nuts.

It is important to remember caffeine is no exception to the synergistic effect of nootropics. How and what caffeine is consumed with will have an impact on how it makes you feel.

For example, green tea is high in caffeine but also L-Theanine. L-Theanine is another psychoactive ingredient that is known to enhance focus with a calming effect. This is a great naturally occurring combination that can help you to avoid caffeine jitters.

Backed by Science

Caffeine is known as an adenosine agonist. All that means is that it works as a blocker.

Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that builds up during wakefulness and eventually leads to sleep. Caffeine works by blocking adenosine and therefore improving your alertness(Bjorness and Greene, 2009).

One of the most memorable studies on caffeine I have read put the stimulant to the test on 68 U.S. Navy Seal trainees. Seal recruits were assigned either 100, 200, or 300 mg of caffeine or placebo in capsule form after 72 hours of sleep deprivation and continuous exposure to other stressors.

The SEALs then had to complete several cognitive tests including visual vigilance, reaction time, working memory, and mood.

A dose of 200 mg (2-4 cups of coffee) appeared to be optimal under prolonged bouts of high-stress situations. Such a dosage appeared to improve performance in virtually any circumstance. (Lieberman et al., 2002)

These findings are something that I have harnessed when using caffeine alongside Rhodiola Rosea (CONKA component No.4 - CCNo.4) during ultra-endurance races. Most recently I placed 11th in my first 24-hour and 112mile track race in Battersea Park. CCNo.4 mitigates some of the effects of sleep deprivation {previous blog post} and with the appropriate caffeine intake, enabled me to maintain control over my CONKA x Optimind Score. I saw only a 7% drop compared with the baseline test set at 11:55 am 24 hours earlier.

So What? How to use caffeine...

The University of Arizona looked at how one 8-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee affected memory and the ability of students to recall information against a placebo.

They drank their coffee between 6-7 am and read a book for 30 minutes following. Caffeinated students performed 30% better in the memory exercise (Sherman et al., 2016). Coffee has also been shown to improve recall when drank after a study session (Borota et al., 2014).

The same study was done between 2-4 pm and in contrast, showed no memory benefit. These findings were flipped in its head for adults. Memory typically gets worse in the afternoon for adults and caffeine can improve working memory in the afternoon.

What you can learn from this is that caffeine is a specialist at getting you to perform at your sub-optimal times of the day. If you are not a morning person drink it then for maximum impact (Ryan, Hatfield and Hofstetter, 2002).

A Note On Tolerance: Caffeine tolerance is built up after repeated consumption since it increases the number of receptors in the brain. In this case the Adenosine (sleep) (O’Neill et al., 2014), Dopamine (feel good) (Volkow et al., 2015), and Acetylcholine (memory) (Shi et al., 1993)receptors in the brain.

Half-Life: Stop drinking Caffeine late in the day

Caffeine has a half-life is up to 5 hours.

That's the amount of time it takes to be reduced to half the original amount.

So if you’ve consumed 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, after 5 hours, you’ll still have 100mg of caffeine in your body(Paprocki, 2013).

The effects of caffeine reach peak levels within 30 to 60 minutes of consumption so your last cup of tea needs to be at least six hours before bedtime. If you go to bed at 10:00 p.m., you should have your last cup of tea no later than 4:00 p.m.

Cortisol: Stop drinking caffeine first thing

Wait 90 minutes before drinking caffeine in the morning. This will allow you to not trade off your sleep hygiene later that evening and experience more of a focus kick.

Cortisol is an important stress hormone that is naturally high in the morning as one of its jobs is to end sleep and wake us up.

Caffiene increases a cortisol response in your body and doing that when it is naturally high anyway can result in higher levels of cortisol at times of the day when cortisol should be at its lowest like at night to help you fall asleep. (Lovallo et al., 2005)

Part of the reason the response could be happening is related to caffeine's impact on certain vitamins and minerals (Lovallo et al., 2005).

This cortisol effect is one of the reasons why we didn’t include any caffeine source in ChC5+1 (CONKA herbal complex). We have designed the perfect blend of ingredients to optimise brain recovery and function at any time of day including pre-sleep without jeopardising your future mental performance or sleep hygiene.

CONKA is not depriving you of or replacing your cup of joe because we know caffeine is already readily available and has been for millennia. Ultimately your caffeine use is down to you and your personal discipline, but it is a powerful nootropic so treat it with respect. Controlling your cognitive function however is our business, and that's why CONKA is a tool to be used around the clock for maximum impact.


Mitchell, D.C., Knight, C.A., Hockenberry, J., Teplansky, R. and Hartman, T.J. (2014). Beverage caffeine intakes in the U.S. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 63, pp.136–142. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2013.10.042.

Bjorness, T.E. and Greene, R.W. (2009). Adenosine and Sleep. Current Neuropharmacology, [online] 7(3), pp.238–245. doi:10.2174/157015909789152182.

Lieberman, H.R., Tharion, W.J., Shukitt-Hale, B., Speckman, K.L. and Tulley, R. (2002). Effects of caffeine, sleep loss, and stress on cognitive performance and mood during U.S. Navy SEAL training. Sea-Air-Land. Psychopharmacology, [online] 164(3), pp.250–61. doi:10.1007/s00213-002-1217-9.

O’Neill, C.E., Levis, S.C., Schreiner, D.C., Amat, J., Maier, S.F. and Bachtell, R.K. (2014). Effects of Adolescent Caffeine Consumption on Cocaine Sensitivity. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(4), pp.813–821. doi:10.1038/npp.2014.278.

Volkow, N.D., Wang, G-J., Logan, J., Alexoff, D., Fowler, J.S., Thanos, P.K., Wong, C., Casado, V., Ferre, S. and Tomasi, D. (2015). Caffeine increases striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability in the human brain. Translational Psychiatry, [online] 5(4), pp.e549–e549. doi:10.1038/tp.2015.46.