Yesterday, I read an article on the BBC news site that came as a crushing disappointment to me. Which is to say, it confirmed something I’d always kind of known, but never been willing to admit to myself. The short version: a cup of coffee in the morning doesn’t actually make you energetic.
“But wait,” I cried to myself in desperation, “I always feel groggy in the morning until I have a cup of coffee!” As it turns out, the research presented in the article confirms this to be true. Now comes the crushing disappointment. You know what causes that groggy feeling? Sadly, it’s coffee.
The research shows that people who drink coffee in the morning are no more alert than their peers who go without a cup of joe. Tests of reaction and alertness show that those who consume caffeine score no better than those who abstain. This is because caffeine consumption in the morning does not provide a boost, it only provides relief from the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.
Those who drink coffee (or other caffeinated beverages) on a regular basis aclimatise their bodies to the stimulant. Let me restate that in a way that is less of a lie to myself: Those who drink coffee on a regular basis become physically dependant on the stimulant. Overnight, they’re not getting their fix, so when they wake up in the morning, they are suffering from a mild form of withdrawal, and feel groggy and out of sorts until they get some of their drug of choice into their system. Thus, it feels like a pick-me-up, but that morning cup of coffee is in reality just getting you back to the baseline that your clean-living friends were cruising at without any chemical assistance.
The article does say that it is possible to get a boost of energy and alertness from caffeine, but it only works if you haven’t had any for quite some time. If it’s been a month (I just made that time-frame up, to be honest) and then you have a quadruple espresso, it will give you a great buzz, but it really only works the first time. Once your body gets used to it, you’re back to being a troll until you get your morning latte.
I will note that there is a quote from a member of the British Coffee Association in the article which says, in part “…moderate coffee consumption of four to five cups per day…”. Four or five cups per day? Goodness! I don’t have a problem after all. I can stop any time I want to, honest.