The belief that a cup of coffee stimulates the brain and makes drinkers feel more awake is a myth as scientists have found that the so-called “caffeine high” is just a reaction to the body craving the drug.
A study of 379 people showed regular coffee drinkers needed a hit of caffeine to gain the same level of alertness as non-coffee drinkers.
“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,” said Prof. Peter Rogers of the University of Bristol’s Department of Experimental Psychology, which led the research.
Researchers deprived each person of coffee for 16 hours before giving the participants either caffeine or a placebo. Each of them then underwent a series of tasks to measure their attentiveness, memory and vigilance.
There was “little difference” in the results between the coffee users and those who were given placebo, found the study, published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
“On the other hand, while caffeine can increase anxiety, tolerance means that for most caffeine consumers this effect is negligible,” Rogers added.