If you’re a diehard coffee drinker, your morning cup of brew doesn’t really provide that eye-opening kick you crave. What it does do, is reverse the caffeine withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue, that you’re experiencing, according to a study published in Neuropsychopharmacology and reported by Reuters.
Caffeine addiction causes you to develop a tolerance to the anxiety-producing and stimulating effects of the drug (yes, it is a drug), so that morning cup simply returns your alertness to a normal level, not a heightened one.
For the study, researchers divided 379 adults into two equal-sized groups: those who were non- to low-caffeine consumers, and those who consumed a medium to high amount. Participants were asked to give up caffeine for 16 hours. Scientists then gave them caffeine or a placebo and measured their post-caffeine alertness, anxiety and headache levels.
The medium- to high- caffeine consumers who took placebos reported decreased alertness and increased headaches. Those who received caffeine also reported the same symptoms.
Measurements showed that the medium- to high-caffeine-consumer group were no more alert than the non- to low-caffeine consumer group. Researchers suggested this meant that caffeine merely brings coffee drinkers’ alertness level back to normal and no higher.
“Although frequent consumers feel alerted by caffeine, especially by their morning tea, coffee or other caffeine-containing drink, evidence suggests that this is actually merely the reversal of the fatiguing effects of acute caffeine withdrawal,” wrote the scientists, led by Peter Rogers of the department of experimental psychology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
They also found that people genetically wired for anxiety didn’t avoid coffee; in fact, they consumed larger amounts of the caffeine-containing beverage than those without this genetic predisposition.
But why not stop fiending for caffeine?
Click here to learn how getting a good night’s sleep can improve your alertness.