Does Coffee Boost Mental Alertness?

Groggy and half asleep, millions of Americans stumble into their kitchen to pour their first cup of dark velvet stimulants, better known as coffee. If you subscribe to the belief that coffee stimulates your mental alertness, then you’re likely aware of the energy and cognitive coffee boost. While this is a common belief, what does science say regarding coffee consumption and an increase in mental alertness?

Caffeine – The Lifeline for Coffee Drinkers

The number one compound within coffee that provides its energy-boosting effects is a common substance known as caffeine. Throughout recent years, caffeine has undergone a significant number of studies to prove or disprove its effectiveness. In one study, researchers found that 75 milligrams of caffeine is all that’s needed to significantly boost mental performance and attention span. This amount of caffeine is found in the best grocery store coffee; however, what about consuming a higher amount of caffeine? Does more caffeine mean more focus?

Although one would assume that consuming more coffee would increase their attention and energy, research has found this to be not true; at least, not completely true. Throughout several studies, researchers found there to be a unique U-curve, which means some subjects experienced greater focus/energy with less caffeine while others experienced significantly more energy and focus when they consume more energy.

Your current coffee consumption habits play a significant role in the effectiveness of coffee on mental alertness. Research has found that those who consume a higher concentration of coffee, and caffeine, require a higher dosage to experience positive benefits. For example, those with low caffeine consumption peaked in performance and cognitive function with as little as 200 milligrams of caffeine; however, those who consume a high concentration of caffeine required nearly 400 milligrams of caffeine to experience the same level of energy and concentration.

In the realm of alertness, caffeine found in coffee has a significant ability to increase mental alertness in those who require it the most; for example, those working nights or those suffering from a cold.

Research has found that those who consume over 220 milligrams of caffeine had a 50% risk reduction in accidents caused by reduced cognitive functions. This amount roughly translates into two eight-ounce cups of coffee.

While early data suggests caffeine is an effective means for enhancing mental clarity and alertness, it does not replace the need for genuine sleep and proper nutrition. Therefore, make it a priority to get ample sleep, eat well and monitor energy-draining substances and behaviors.

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