Coffee Could Help You Be a Better Problem Solver—Here's How Much You Should Drink
Coffee is basically the mascot of the modern workplace, cheering us on and helping us meet our deadlines. You'd be hard-pressed to find an office space that doesn't have at least one coffee maker—but does coffee actually help us be more productive?
While some studies show coffee can cause jitters and anxiety, new research shows drinking coffee every day could help you be a more efficient employee—you just need to drink the right amount to stay in the sweet spot.
Researchers from The University of Arkansas randomly gave 88 participants a pill containing 200 milligrams of caffeine (equivalent to a 12-ounce cup of coffee) or a placebo pill. Their thinking skills were then put to the test.
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When they were tested on logic skills and problem solving to come up with a solution, there was a boost from the caffiene. When it came to creativity there were no changes from caffiene. Those who took the caffeine pill also reported feeling less sad.
"In Western cultures, caffeine is stereotypically associated with creative occupations and lifestyles, from writers and their coffee to programmers and their energy drinks, and there's more than a kernel of truth to these stereotypes," wrote Darya Zabelina, Ph.D., lead author of the study.
The Bottom Line
These findings line up with previous research associating coffee consumption with increased brain health. Studies have found coffee could help boost alertness, concentration and well-being and protect against cognitive decline. However, it's important to remember that only moderate coffee consumption triggered this increase in the ability to solve problems and stay focused. While drinking coffee offers a host of benefits, drinking too much can cause anxiety, jitters, poor sleep, nausea, headaches and other adverse health effects.
The FDA advises limiting coffee consumption at 400 milligrams—about four cups—to skip out on the negative effects (if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or concerned about interactions with your medication, talk to your doctor). You may need to drink even less if caffeine affects your mental or physical health.