English Listening Practice-A Strong Listen For Coffee Lovers Ep 552

A young woman drinking a large coffee, leaning against a brick wall. English listening practice: Coffee has many effects on the human body, time to learn more about it!

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 2939 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 15 min

📥 Download 9.3 Mb ▪️ 👓 Read Transcript

English Listening Practice: A Legal Drug That Alters Your Thinking and Messes With Your Sleep

In this English listening practice podcast lesson, we learn about the effects of coffee. Why coffee works the way it does, why it works differently on different people. Of course you will learn some interesting English vocabulary, phrases, pronunciation as you improve your English fluency. An English lesson you actually will want to listen to. So make yourself a coffee, put your headphones on and click play and start listening, enjoy!

It’s no secret that coffee is an effective drug. But how do you know if you’re more sensitive to it than most people? Well, as you can imagine for such a popular drink, there is a lot of research on the effects of caffeine. In this English language learning podcast, we discuss some of that research, the most interesting effects and why it works differently on different people.

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Most Unusual Words:

  • Sensitivity: The ability to feel or respond to small changes or differences.
  • Effective: Producing the desired result or outcome.
  • Neuroscientist: A scientist who studies the brain and nervous system.
  • Substance: A material, usually a solid, liquid, or gas, with a specific composition.
  • Accumulates: To gather or collect something over time.
  • Jittery: Feeling nervous or restless.
  • Caffeine: A natural stimulant found in coffee, tea, and some other plants.
  • Nicotine: A chemical found in tobacco, often used in cigarettes and other tobacco products.
  • Receptors: Proteins on cells that receive and respond to signals from outside the cell.
  • Liver: A large organ in the body that helps process nutrients and remove toxins.
  • Genes: Units of heredity that determine traits and are passed from parents to offspring.

Most common 2 word phrases:

Socially Acceptable3
Mind Altering3
I Think3
I Like2
English Vocabulary2
As Well2
Caffeine Sensitivity2
Find Out2
Your Brain2
You Might2

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Transcript: English Listening Practice-A Strong Listen For Coffee Lovers

Hi, there. Let's cover some more, really good English vocabulary today. I'm going to cover a topic which is health related, neuroscience related and something which affects many of us, but you might not know it. Today, I'm going to talk about the legal drug caffeine. It's a mind altering substance! Is it good? Is it bad? Let's find out about its effects. And I'm going to include some of my personal experience as well. And all the while, your brain will be learning some great English vocabulary. Lovely.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

What is 'caffeine'?

OK, so vocabulary, first of all. I said 'caffeine'. What's caffeine? Well, it's spelled C A F F E I N E. And caffeine is a 'mind altering substance', so it has an effect on your brain. It changes how you feel, how you operate. And caffeine is what's in coffee. It's also in tea and you can get caffeine from other substances that we eat as well as drink. So you might find caffeine in things like chocolate, especially dark chocolate. But most of us, if we take caffeine at all, we consume it in coffee and maybe in tea.

Caffeine is a 'socially acceptable' drug. That means people don't generally disapprove of you for using caffeine. In many countries of the world, the 'socially acceptable' and legal drugs that we tend to use are caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. 'Caffeine' is what you find in your daily cup of coffee. 'Nicotine' is what you have in cigarettes, that's N I C O T I N E. And alcohol is, well, I think we all know what that is. So those are the legal, mind altering drugs in most countries. I think in the UK, the one that we probably would say is least 'socially acceptable' is nicotine. People are likely to disapprove if you smoke, particularly because of what's called 'passive smoking'. It has an effect on other people. But as far as caffeine and alcohol are concerned, I think we're still enjoying those ones!

Do you have 'caffeine sensitivity'?

I'll be honest, I like a cup of coffee. And when I write a podcast, I might have several cups of coffee! I like the effect. It makes me feel awake and alert. And I have lots of ideas when I'm drinking coffee and taking onboard caffeine. However, I know that I'm one of those people who has 'a caffeine sensitivity', that's S E N S I T I V I T Y. 'Caffeine sensitivity'. And it means I have to be careful with caffeine. I discovered this many years ago and a particular experience caused me to arrive at the idea that I am 'caffeine sensitive'.

I once went to see the comedian, Omid Djalili at Woking Theatre, and I had a cup of coffee before the show, a glass of Coke in the middle of the show, in the interval. And that night I didn't get to sleep at all! So I'm 'caffeine sensitive' - caffeine can affect my sleep, so I'm careful with it.

Why does caffeine keep you awake?

So what's going on with coffee? Some people can drink a cup of coffee going to bed, and it appears not to disturb their sleep. Some people like me - if I had a cup of coffee going to bed, I wouldn't sleep at all, all night.

So why do some people have problems with caffeine and coffee and some people don't?


An anxious woman in a dark bedroom staring at an alarm clock. English lessons for people who are trying to improve their fluency and confidence in speaking English. Talking about why coffee works.

©️ Adept English 2022

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Neuroscience supplies the answers

So, how is it that caffeine affects our sleep? Well, my favourite writer on sleep is a neuroscientist called Matthew Walker. And his book, 'Why We Sleep' there we are! I think it is probably the best publication on sleep that we currently have.

And Matthew Walker makes a big study of sleep. He's a Professor of Neuroscience at a university in California. And his book is excellent. He really emphasizes the importance of sleep to our health. And how many of us just don't realize this?

If your English is really good, you could read this book in the original English, but it's quite challenging. So you might want to read it in your own language. The book has been translated into many different languages. I found it on Amazon, in French, Spanish, Portuguese, so it's possible it's been translated into your language. It's a good book for everybody to read.

It's all about 'adenosine'

What does Matthew Walker say about 'caffeine sensitivity'?

Well, he agrees that caffeine is a 'mind altering drug'. It has quite a big effect and he explains its effects. One of the substances that occurs naturally in our brains is called 'adenosine'. That's A D E N O S I N E. And 'adenosine' is a substance that naturally accumulates in our brains when we're awake.

The longer we've been awake, the longer it's been, since we were last asleep, the more adenosine is going on in our brains. It accumulates, it builds up, so that when you feel sleepy and you know that it's bedtime that's because a lot of adenosine has built up in your brain.

Caffeine interferes with this. What happens when you take caffeine is that it blocks the receptors for adenosine. So all these different substances in your brain, the chemicals that affect how we are, in our brain - neurotransmitters, if you like - they all have 'receptors'. That's R E C E P T O R. So you have receptors in your brain that receive these different neurotransmitters. And your adenosine 'receptors' will fill up with adenosine, but that changes if you drink coffee. That's because caffeine will block your adenosine receptors. So instead of feeling sleepy, you feel wide awake, alert.


Pros and cons of caffeine's effects

That's why we like caffeine! That's why people who perhaps have to stay up all night to finish a piece of work or an essay that must be handed in the following day - I'm talking about you students here - you might use coffee or even something like Red Bull to help you stay alert as you work through the night.

And what's happening is that substance, that caffeine is blocking your receptors for the 'sleepy neurotransmitter', adenosine.

You might know Red Bull. It is a fizzy drink with caffeine in it. 'Red Bull gives you wings' was the advertising slogan in English.

Even if you drink a cup of decaf coffee, it's still got some caffeine in it. So it gives you a fairly immediate effect, but the problem when it comes to sleep is that it may take you up to 10 hours to process the caffeine and for it to leave your system, to leave your body. So it may not be possible to sleep while you still have caffeine in your system.

It takes five to seven hours to get rid of just half the caffeine that you take on board.

Why do some people have problems with caffeine?

So that's why some people can't sleep when they've had a cup of coffee. Why are some people more affected than others? Why are some people like me, more 'caffeine sensitive'?

When your body breaks down caffeine, it's your 'liver' - that's L I V E R. It's your liver that's involved. Your 'liver' is one of the important organs in your body. Your liver is say, what would be affected if you drank too much alcohol and it also processes the caffeine so that it leaves your body.

Various factors determine how quickly your liver processes caffeine. Age is one of them. When I was young as a teenager, I could drink a cup of coffee going to bed and it would have no effect whatsoever. I would still sleep really well.

It's only as I've got older, I've noticed an increasing effect of caffeine. I've become 'caffeine sensitive'.

It's also genetics

But it's also down to genetics. It's also down to your 'genes' - that's G E N E S. Members of my family are also 'caffeine sensitive'. So my mum, both my sisters and one of my daughters - they would all be careful with caffeine. My elder sister and my daughter don't drink caffeine at all because it has such a big effect on them.

My younger sister and me? If someone asks us, 'Do you want a cup of coffee?', we'll look at our watch before we say yes or no. It depends on the time of day. Happy to drink it until lunchtime. After lunchtime no thank you, because it will disturb my sleep.

My elder sister and my daughter don't drink caffeine 'cause it has a bigger effect on them. It makes their heart beat far faster. They feel a bit jittery. That's J I T T E R Y. That's a good one for you to look up. They feel jittery when they've had caffeine, so they tend to avoid it.

Gender, medication and anxious also affect you caffeine experience

There are other factors which also affect how quickly or slowly you process caffeine. Women tend to process caffeine more quickly than men. However, if they're on the contraceptive pill, they process it at around the same speed as men. As I mentioned, genetics and age, both play a part.

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And also certain medications, certain pharmaceutical pills or tablets will increase your 'caffeine sensitivity'.

If you don't drink coffee, normally, if you don't take caffeine normally, then it will have a bigger effect. And if you're one of those people who is very anxious, that's A N X I O U S. That means you're 'on edge', you worry a lot. Then caffeine may not be good for you either. It may make your anxiety worse.

How is your caffeine consumption?

Have a think about how caffeine affects you. Is it disturbing your sleep? Do you need to pull back your caffeine consumption? Some people can have heart problems, heart palpitations, if they take onboard too much caffeine, and they may not realise that this is the cause. Or are you one of those lucky people who can drink as much coffee as they like and it doesn't affect you at all?

So that's all about the legal drug caffeine. Its good sides, its bad sides and a bit about how it may be affecting your sleep. And sleep is really important to your physical and your mental health.


I hope that along the way, this podcast has given you some really good vocabulary, some great English listening material, and that you listen to us again soon. Don't forget to listen to the podcast a number of times until you understand all of it.

Enough for now, have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com




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