Hold the Expresso! Coffee Might Not Keep You Alert After All

Young man holding coffee cup, close-up, part of

Despite what many of us may believe we learned cramming for finals in college, a study published in Neuropsychopharmacology (1) suggests that your morning cup of coffee might not help you stay alert through that early morning meeting. In a study of 379 coffee drinkers, researchers found that frequent coffee drinkers developed a tolerance to both the anxiety-producing effects and the stimulatory effects of the caffeine found in their coffee.

Are you thinking that you know you feel more alert after your morning mocha or double-shot? Are you one of the many of us who shudder to think of facing the day without first drinking a cup (or two) of coffee or tea? Well, according to this study, that is because the caffeine  in your morning “Cup o’ Joe” is reversing the fatiguing effects caused by acute caffeine withdrawal. So instead of waking us up or giving us a head start on the day, that morning dose of caffeine might just be resetting us to “normal”.

Making a Cappuccino

As for any anxious feelings? It appears that, although caffeine can increase anxiety, most of us have built up enough tolerance that the effects are negligible.  Still, if you start feeling anxious every morning after your first pot of coffee, you might want to cut back some, or switch to decaf.


ResearchBlogging.orgRogers PJ, Hohoff C, Heatherley SV, Mullings EL, Maxfield PJ, Evershed RP, Deckert J, & Nutt DJ (2010). Association of the Anxiogenic and Alerting Effects of Caffeine with ADORA2A and ADORA1 Polymorphisms and Habitual Level of Caffeine Consumption. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology PMID: 20520601

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Kelly Grooms

Kelly Grooms

Scientific Communications Specialist at Promega Corporation
Kelly earned her B.S. in Genetics from Iowa State University in Ames, IA. Prior to coming to Promega, she worked for biotech companies in San Diego and Madison. Kelly lives just outside Madison with her husband, son and daughter. Kelly collects hobbies including jewelry artistry, reading, writing and knitting. A black belt, she enjoys practicing karate with her daughter as well as hiking, biking and camping.


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