How does coffee help to keep us awake?

        The caffeine in coffee and black tea passes into the bloodstream and affects the central nervous system. It competes with the neurotransmitter adenosine, which would ordinarily attach itself to certain receptors in the nerve cells to calm them and prevent them becoming overloaded. Caffeine has a similar structure and fits into the same receptors. It therefore blocks them and prevents the calming adenosine effect, which leads to increased alertness and an ability to concentrate.

         However, constant and heavy coffee consumption causes the nerve cells to react by creating more receptors. Therefore, the same amount of coffee will, in the long term, have a less pronounced effect. Suddenly giving up caffeine can cause temporary physical withdrawal symptoms. Coffee and tea have the greatest stimulating effect if they are drunk in small quantities throughout the day

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