It only seems natural to follow up yesterday's post on grogginess with one on caffeine, picked up from Lifehacker by way of Guy Kawasaki. The buzz is all about an excerpt from Chris Chatham's book Caffeine: A User's Guide to Getting Optimally Wired (no word yet on when it gets to Amazon). Given that caffeine is the most widely used and abused stimulant in the world, people perked up a bit when a neuroscientist offered some thoughts on optimal consumption. The basic story is that consuming 20-200mg/hour delivers the best mental boost. Given that an average cuppa joe contains between 100-150mg of caffeine, one cup (or less) per hour is more than enough. He also notes that to use caffeine effectively, you should play to its (and your own) strengths: caffeine makes it easier to work harder and faster on tasks that you already had under control, but it doesn't make challenging problems or abstract puzzlers any easier. Building on yesterday's post, caffeine is going to help with the analytical tasks, but probably not the creative ones. One last interesting finding: mixing in a bit of sugar may actually be a great idea, as some studies have shown that caffeine-glucose cocktails provide cognitive benefits not seen with either one alone.
Of course, caffeine isn't just about the chemical brain boost. There's the placebo effect, and the fact that sometimes a morning isn't going to start itself without a cup of the delicious. Some studies have also suggested that long term ingestion is associated with a variety of health benefits such as a reduction in the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. As if we needed more motivation.
Scientists and true addicts should check out the Scienceblog excerpt to keep learning.