Do you feel that your day only truly starts once you’ve had your first cup of coffee? A new study may explain why you feel that way. According to the study, that cup of java doesn’t actually produce an energy boost to start the day off right. In actual fact, regular coffee drinkers simply need the beverage to return to a normal state of alertness and to avoid the side effects of caffeine withdrawal.
For this study, researchers asked 379 participants to abstain from drinking caffeinated beverages for 16 hours. The subjects were also asked about their normal consumption of these beverages, and light consumers were defined as those who drank less than one cup of coffee per day. The researchers then gave half of the participants 100 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of about two cups of coffee), and another 150 mg of caffeine an hour and a half later. The other half were given a placebo.
While both heavy and light caffeine drinkers reported feeling more alert after being given caffeine, they responded differently to the placebo. Light coffee drinkers didn’t report any significant difference in their level of alertness when given a placebo. “Caffeine addicts,” however, reported a significantly decreased feeling of alertness when given a placebo instead of their usual dose of caffeine. They were also twice as likely to report a headache.
These results go against the popular belief (and the results of previous studies) that coffee produces a boost in alertness. In the end, what’s important is to consume coffee and other caffeinated beverages in moderation.