Although nicotine is a poisonous substance that has long been used as an insecticide and rat poison, the small doses taken by smokers can cause temporary improvements in mental performance, including alertness, capacity to carry out repetitive tasks, and both accuracy and speed in an information processing test. Smoking is used by workers as an aid in tasks requiring thinking and concentration, and cigarettes can perk people up in much ths same way as a cup of coffee.
At low doses, nicotine stimulates the release of beta-endorphin, an opiate made by the body. Consequently, smokers fell calmer. In contrast, a high dose apparently prompts the release of noradrenaline, adrenaline and dopamine. Smokers may experienc a lift, or find themselves in the paradoxical state of being more alert and more relaxed. Nicotine has also been credited with improvements in mental performance through an increased release of two neurotransmitters involved with memory function, acetylcholine and vasopressin. These effects don't last for long - from 15 minutes to half an hour.
A healthier alternative to a nicotine dependency is regular aeurobic exercise. This is a habi that, like smoking, increases the release of beta-endorphin, acetylcholine and adrenaline. The result of a good aerobic workout is that sam paradoxical state of relaxed alertness. And unlike smoking, the fitness habit won't increase your risk of cancer and heart disease.
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