Coffee is a drink with many benefits. It wakes us up, gives us energy and also makes us happy every time we drink it.
But have you ever heard of the concentration-enhancing effects of coffee?
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Concentration through coffee consumption
According to a study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, caffeine can improve your ability to focus and solve problems.
It is recommended to drink a large cup of black coffee (350 ml) 10 to 45 minutes before a task that requires high concentration.
It should be noted that this amount of coffee corresponds to about 3 normal cups. So, if you are very sensitive to caffeine, you should drink a much smaller amount.
How the study was conducted
In the study, the researchers divided the 80 participants into two groups. Participants in the first group were given a 200 mg caffeine pill, which is the equivalent of 12 ounces of black coffee.
The second group, on the other hand, received a placebo preparation. Each participant then took either the caffeine pill or placebo 20 minutes before being asked to do two things:
- Solving problems that only have one “right” answer.
- Come up with new ideas when multiple answers would have been correct.
In doing so, the researchers found that caffeine consumption seemed to improve participants’ ability to solve tasks that allowed only one correct answer.
This could indicate that caffeine can increase participants’ concentration and analytical skills.
However, when asked to think more creatively, that is, to come up with multiple ideas, caffeine had no impact on performance.
What are the implications of this study?
Darya Zabelina, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Arkansas and the lead author of the study. according to Dr. So Zabelina can use this study to show that coffee can improve brain performance when linear thinking is required to solve a problem.
That said, if the task is to solve a problem that has only one solution, 1 or 2 cups of coffee may well improve the way our brains solve tasks.
On the other hand, when a more creative approach is required, where many ideas need to be generated to solve a problem, caffeine may not be the best ally.
Therefore, this is not to say that caffeine affects people’s creativity, but rather that it has no effect on creative thinking.
So why does coffee promote concentration and not creativity?
The brain produces a molecule called adenosine that helps us sleep and relax. Thus, adenosine production increases from waking up to bedtime.
Caffeine, the main component of coffee, is a stimulant for our brain, which is why it activates it and encourages greater productivity. In addition, caffeine occupies the brain’s adenosine receptors, which inhibits its effects.
So, when the effects of adenosine are decreased and caffeine is increased, our bodies feel “activated” and more energized. At the same time, we feel more attentive, alert and, above all, more concentrated and are able to solve problems.
In other words, our minds are ready to engage in a specific task because we are alert. In contrast, creative thinking needs more rest and even some rest and relaxation to develop, and that’s exactly the opposite of what caffeine does.
This could explain why caffeine doesn’t make us more creative, even though it does help us focus better.
Other aspects to consider
Another result of this research shows that the effects of caffeine become noticeable after about 10 minutes. However, the concentration of this alkaloid in the bloodstream peaks 45 minutes after ingestion.
It’s also worth noting that the participants in this study were regular coffee drinkers, meaning they are already used to coffee in their daily lives.
As a result, those who never drink coffee or drink more than two cups a day may have very different experiences, the researcher says.
Coffee might improve your short-term memory
A study from Johns Hopkins University suggests that caffeine may improve alertness and short-term memory, making it easier to retain new information.
This finding could be particularly useful for college students, as drinking coffee during a long study session appears to be a means of better learning. The study shows that drinking a cup of coffee a few minutes before starting a study session can help you “absorb” new information for up to 24 hours.
So, it seems that moderate caffeine consumption makes it easier to retain a greater number of details in less time than no caffeine consumption.
Are the effects on concentration the same for everyone?
Not really. This is because everyone has a different metabolism. As such, the amount of caffeine your body needs to “get going” and your mind to work more efficiently can be vastly different than what someone else needs.
In addition, genetics have a lot to do with how caffeine affects our bodies. It is therefore important to remember that some people metabolize caffeine quickly (fast metabolizers) while others metabolize it more slowly (low metabolizers).
For example, we find that the CYP1A2 gene metabolizes more than 95% of caffeine consumed and is present at a lower proportion in individuals who are slow metabolizers of caffeine.
This means that people who are slow metabolizers of caffeine have higher blood levels of this alkaloid and cannot clear it quickly, so the effects last longer and are stronger.
The opposite is true for individuals who metabolize caffeine quickly, as these individuals may experience the effects of caffeine for a shorter time as their body metabolizes and eliminates caffeine more efficiently.
Let the coffee work for you
The problem that many people have with coffee is that they consume too much of it, believing it has no side effects. However, the truth is that in order to reap all of its benefits, you need to know how to drink coffee.
So now we’re going to show you a series of tips that can make drinking coffee a delicious and productive experience.
Don’t overdo it with the coffee
We’ve already mentioned that caffeine in excess can be harmful, but it’s also true that consuming very small amounts of this alkaloid will not produce any of its beneficial effects.
According to the World Health Organization, the recommended maximum daily amount of caffeine is 400 mg. However, higher amounts can cause side effects such as anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, and digestive problems in people who are sensitive to caffeine.
So, keep in mind that an average cup of coffee (8 ounces) contains between 95 and 200 mg of caffeine – more than enough to keep you awake. Tea also contains caffeine (albeit at a lower concentration), so an 8-ounce cup can contain between 19 and 50 mg of caffeine.
The European Food Safety Authority points out that from 75 mg an increase in alertness can be felt.
Choose the right time to drink coffee
One of the “universal truths” about coffee is that sipping a cup upon waking is a surefire way to be productive, but that’s not really the case.
Several research studies suggest that if we really want to increase our productivity, it’s best to delay that first cup of coffee until mid-morning.
That’s because cortisol levels (a hormone that increases alertness) peak in the morning and then decline throughout the day. So, it’s unnecessary, and in some cases unwise, to use coffee to boost the natural effects of cortisol.
On the other hand, it’s also not good to delay coffee consumption for too long, since consuming caffeine too late can disrupt the body’s sleep cycle.
Therefore, it is best to drink coffee during the hours when blood cortisol levels are low, i.e. mid-morning and around 3 p.m.
Transforming the energy of coffee into physical activity
The good thing about caffeine is that after a good cup of this drink we not only have a feeling of energy, but also a desire to do whatever we need to do.
It is therefore a good idea to use this burst of energy to engage in physical activity, as physical activity is known to be beneficial for both the body and mind as it can improve our focus and alertness.
While there is evidence that coffee can improve the ability to focus, more research is needed to determine exactly how caffeine improves productivity.
It is also important to note that while coffee may help you perform better on certain tasks, you should consult a doctor before changing your caffeine intake.
This is because, as we have seen, the alkaloid has undesirable effects in large quantities or in particularly sensitive individuals.