June 7, 2010

To Caffeinate or Not to Caffeinate

by Heather Falconer

Researchers at Bristol University in the UK have something to tell us regular coffee, tea and soda drinkers. That morning pick-me-up isn’t really picking us up, it’s pushing us down.

In the study about to be published in Nature‘s journal Neuropsychopharmacology, Rogers et al. share with us that our regular caffeine habits are actually causing a dependency that leaves us in withdrawl. After 16 hours without caffeine, regular caffeine consumers and non-consumers were divided up. Some were given caffeine tablets and others a placebo. The results show that the “post-caffeine levels of alertness [in regular caffeine consumers] were actually no higher than the non/low consumers who received a placebo, suggesting caffeine only brings coffee drinkers back up to ‘normal’.”*

So what does that tell us regular visitors to the coffee pot? If we want to increase our alertness, we might think about skipping the “regular,” grabbing the decaf, and doing something that is proven to increase blood flow to the brain — like taking a walk.

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn from freedigitalphotos.com
Heather Falconer

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Heather Falconer holds undergraduate degrees in Graphic Arts and Environmental Science, as well as an MFA in Writing and an MLitt in Literature. She is currently completing her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, with an emphasis on rhetoric in/and/of science. Heather has worked internationally in academic publishing as both an author and editor, and has taught a wide range of topics – from research writing to marine biology – in the public and private educational sectors.