A recent BBC online survey asked the users of its internet website do you rely on caffeine to make you feel more alert?
The results were that 27 percent thought it helped them perform to their best ability, 62 percent thought it made no difference at all and 11 percent tried their best not to consume caffeine at all.
Caffeine is the world’s most commonly used drug. Hardly surprising when it is found in over two billion cups of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and colas every single day. In the United Kingdom and Europe most of our need for the stuff is satisfied by coffee. Caffeine can also be found in a wide range of other substances too most notably good quality dark chocolate.
So if you’re one of the 27 percent who rely of that hit of caffeine to jolt you into the working day, what exactly is it that caffeine does to your body? In the remarkably short time of just 15 minutes since the drink touched your lips caffeine has started to make you feel the hit giving many an extra mental agility throughout the day. In some people the hit can last hours. Its effects are felt in the neurons in your brain and in particular it blocks the action of adenosine – a molecule that tells the brain to feel tired.
Scientists have measured the effects of caffeine in a number of trials over the years. In conclusion they have deduced that whilst frequent users of caffeine seem more alert and attentive in tests against their non using counterparts they showed no discernable difference. Caffeine was shown to improve motor skills during ‘finger tapping speed tests’ in both users and non users. However, when non users were introduced to caffeine they felt more awake but with the side effect of feeling more jittery but their mental alertness showed no significant improvement.
The BBC online survey concluded that caffeine appears to improve some physical aspects of performance it does little to enhance the mental abilities of regular users, who quickly develop a tolerance to caffeine’s effects. Non users likewise may feel more alert after a caffeine shot but they also don’t experience any significant improvement when carrying out mental performance tests either.