Oh coffee, how I love thee.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always love me back (usually, from the three cups and upwards mark – helloooo, jitters).
But yet, do I cull my caffeine habit? Nay. Wean it back at least? Also nay. Mostly because I don’t know how I would get to my 6am workout or power through my emails at 3pm without it. I know, I know, spoken like a true addict.
But the good news is: According to new research, we might be able to get some of the brain benefits of coffee without actually drinking it.
How on earth, you ask? A new study recently published in Consciousness and Cognition has found that the mere thought of coffee might be enough to stimulate physiological arousal in the body to the point it actually changes how you think and feel. Study participants were asked to think about coffee, and researchers found they actually reaped the focus-enhancing benefits of the brew without consuming it, becoming notably mentally sharper.
So how does a pseudo-coffee boost work?
Well, researchers think it has a lot to with the fact most of us associate coffee with alertness and productivity, so making this mental association is enough to give us an actual boost, both mentally and even physically. Researchers actually measured participants’ heart rates and found this too increased at the thought of coffee.
For the record: This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the thought – or smell – of coffee providing benefits. A study last year found just getting a mere whiff of coffee was enough to boost analytical reasoning skills, and even helped students to perform higher when solving Algebra equations.
So what does this mean for the caffeine-fuelled among us? Well the truth is, if this science is anything to go off, perhaps we don’t need to drink quite as much coffee (looking at you, three-a-day-Jess).
Maybe just the thought or savouring a single cup is enough.