The belief that a cup of coffee stimulates the brain and makes drinkers feel more awake is a myth, a new study shows.
Scientists found the so-called “caffeine high” is just a reaction to the body craving the drug.
The research found that coffee lovers were no more awake than those who did not drink caffeine in the morning.
In fact, the study of 379 people showed, regular coffee drinkers needed a hit of caffeine to bring them up to the same level of alertness as non-coffee drinkers.
Prof Peter Rogers, from the University of Bristol's Department of Experimental Psychology, which led the study, said: "Our study shows that we don't gain an advantage from consuming caffeine.
"Although we feel alerted by it, this is caffeine just bringing us back to normal."
Researchers deprived each person of coffee for 16 hours before giving the participants either caffeine or a placebo.
Each person then underwent a series of tasks to measure their attentiveness, memory and vigilance.
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The study, published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, found there was "little difference" in the results between the coffee users and those who were given placebos.
Prof Rogers added: "On the other hand, while caffeine can increase anxiety, tolerance means that for most caffeine consumers this effect is negligible."
The research was supported by a grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.