For years, there have been certain things that have troubled me. I have been never been able to figure out:
º How the female mind works.
º Why I don't understand poetry that doesn't rhyme.
º How the internal combustion engine operates.
º And why such shows as "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead" are much more appealing to me than some symphonic concert on PBS.
Now, I may have the answer.
Apparently, I may have taken in far too much caffeine during my early years. (Well, my middle and latter years, too.)
The Swiss National Science Foundation reports too much caffeine during a person's formative years can have all sorts of bad effects on brain development. Hmm ... through the years, my wife has repeatedly questioned my brain development, so maybe the Swiss are onto something.
Caffeine doesn't necessarily mean only coffee, which I never drink. It also includes soda, energy drinks and tea. Maybe all of those Classic Cokes (with ice, thank you) have not been good for me.
Too much caffeine can cause loss of sleep, and sleep -- especially when a person is young -- is supposed to be vital to brain development. Because I was never dropped on my head as a youngster, I assume it was all of the soft drinks consumed as a child and teen that made me the way I am.
Adding fuel to the Swiss fire, when I was young I remember always wanting to stay up late. Maybe it was all of the Coke I was drinking in the evenings while watching "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Petticoat Junction."
Researchers found that youngsters who take in above-average amounts of caffeine during the day could be missing some of the deep sleep they need, and therefore delaying their brain development. Scientists came to the conclusion after administering caffeine to 30-day-old rats and measuring how quickly their brains matured.
(The "30-day-old rat" thing has me a bit concerned about this research, but I'm willing to roll with it.)
"The brain of children is extremely plastic due to the many connections," said one of the researchers. "This optimization presumably occurs during deep sleep. Key synapses extend, others are reduced; this makes the network more efficient and the brain more powerful."
I know, I know ... I have no idea what that meant, either.
What it all boils down to, according to the Swiss, is that kids and teenagers need a lot of sleep for their brains to reach full maturation. And if you have too much caffeine, you tend to either not sleep as much or not as "deeply."
The recent study also revealed a change in the young rats' behavior. Instead of being curious -- a trait normal for their age -- caffeinated rats were timid and cautious. Maybe I have not been affected as much by the caffeine as I had thought, because I think I have remained curious about things my entire life, especially the female mind and those internal combustion engines.
Caffeine, I am told by the Swiss, is considered the "most widely utilized psychoactive substance among people of all age groups and cultural backgrounds." It acts as a stimulant, and can have serious side effects if taken in excess.
OK, so I'll try and cut back a little on my evening glasses of Coke -- with ice, thank you. And maybe, just maybe, some day I'll begin to understand all of the poetry that doesn't rhyme.