For those of us who routinely rely on a cup of coffee, a demitasse of espresso, a ceramic cup of perfectly poured macchiato, or maybe even, God help us, a Red Bull, before we feel both awake and arguably sane in the morning, now there's news that this happy excuse may be all in our heads. Or at least all about the headache. The Guardian reports that drinking a morning coffee does not, in fact, increase alertness at all. It combats caffeine withdrawal, but that's about it. Anyone who has tried to give up coffee will confirm the seriously unpleasant side effects of quitting, and the fact that the pounding headache that usually comes with such abstinence is immediately counteracted by, yes, more coffee.
The study, conducted by Bristol University in England, also assessed infrequent coffee drinkers and looked at genetic factors in determining the relationship between caffeine and alertness. Here's the article, published in Neuropsychopharmacology yesterday. Warning: you may need a few cups of coffee to decipher it. Not that you'll be any more alert, but it may help you with that headache from all the terminology.