A new study suggests that habitual coffee drinkers may get no real buzz from their morning mug of caffeine. The stimulatory effects of caffeine may be nothing more than an illusion.
Researchers at London’s Bristol University discovered that coffee drinkers develop such a tolerance to both the anxiety-producing and the stimulating effects of caffeine that drinking it only returns them to their â€˜normalâ€™ level of alertness, nothing more.
Peter Rogers of Bristol’s department of experimental psychology led the study. â€˜Although frequent consumers feel alerted by caffeine-containing drink, evidence suggests that this is actually merely the reversal of the fatiguing effects of acute caffeine withdrawl,â€™ the scientists wrote in their report.
“Our study shows that we don’t gain an advantage from consuming caffeine – although we feel alerted by it, this is caffeine just bringing us back to normal,” Rogers said. “On the other hand, while caffeine can increase anxiety, tolerance means that for most caffeine consumers this effect is negligible.â€™
The research team asked 379 adults to give up coffee for 16 hours. Half of the group were non/low caffeine drinkers, and half were medium-to-high caffeine users. Then both groups were given either caffeine or a placebo pill. Participants rated their levels of anxiety, alertness and headache.
While the medium/high caffeine users who got the placebo reported an increase in headaches and a decrease in alertness, measurements showed the medium/high caffeine users’ level of alertness were actually no higher post-caffeine than the non/low caffeine participants who got the placebo. The researchers concluded that caffeine merely brings the java junkies back to a â€˜normalâ€™ state.
So, I guess if someone says, â€˜I’m not my normal self until I’ve had my coffee,â€™ they’re not kidding around.
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