Caffeine may not help in alertness
Caffeine addiction is such a downer that regular coffee drinkers may get no real pick-me-up from their morning cup.
Researchers studied 162 non/low and 217 medium/high caffeine consumers in England to find out the whether habitual caffeine intake moderates alertness, anxiety and headache. The participants gave up caffeine for 16 hours, and then the researchers gave them either caffeine or a dummy pill known as a placebo. The participants reported their anxiety levels, headache and alertness before taking the caffeine and after taking the caffeine.
It was found that drinkers develop a tolerance to both the anxiety-producing and the stimulating effects of caffeine, meaning that it only brings them back to baseline levels of alertness, not above them. Also, people who have a genetic predisposition to anxiety do not tend to avoid coffee.
Participants rated their levels of anxiety, alertness and headache. The medium/high caffeine consumers who got the placebo reported a decrease in alertness and increased headache, neither of which were reported by those who received caffeine.
But measurements showed that their post-caffeine levels of alertness were actually no higher than the non/low consumers who received a placebo, suggesting caffeine only brings coffee drinkers back up to normal.
The researchers concluded that 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.
The study suggests that a mild increase in anxiety may be a part of the pleasant buzz caused by caffeine.
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