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Spilling The Beans: Why Coffee Is Actually Slowing You Down Instead Of Speeding You Up

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Most of us need a jolt of caffeine to start our days and for good reason: Drinking caffeine makes us feel more alert and improves our moods.

Some studies even suggest that in the short-term, caffeine can improve our cognitive performance in both memory and attention span tasks.

Why is it, though, that the best things in life always come at a price? You can’t get high without coming down -- and that’s the case with everyone’s favorite cup of mental stability: coffee.

New research from Johns Hopkins Medical School shows that performance increases from caffeine intake are the result of caffeine consumers’ short-term caffeine-withdrawal experience.

In other words, caffeine-related performance improvement is reliant upon caffeine withdrawal. To answer the existential question: You can’t have the good without the bad.

Johns Hopkins researchers controlled for caffeine consumption in their subjects.  They found that coming down from caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and negatively impacts your mood.

In order to get back to “normal” (or to a baseline), you probably feel the need to drink more caffeine -- which you're hoping will give you that high again -- but all that caffeine is just restoring your performance back to normal for a short period. You may think you’re high, but you’re not.

Caffeine is actually slowing you down instead of speeding you up, which explains why we feel withdrawal symptoms when we try to cut back. And why we feel like punching people in the face without our ritual morning cup of coffee.

It also triggers the release of adrenaline, which puts your brain and body into a hyper-aroused state. During this time, it’s hard to control your emotions. The caffeine intake can cause irritability and anxiety by enabling your emotions to overpower your behaviors.

Want more good news? Caffeine messes up your sleep cycle, makes it harder to fall asleep and has a six hour half-life.

That means there’s still 25 percent of the caffeine leftover in your body at 8 pm from your early morning 8 am cup of coffee; anything you drink after noon will still contain about 50 percent of its strength at bedtime.

When you do finally score some shuteye, it’s not going to be of any help (sorry). Caffeine reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the deep sleep that allows your body to recover and process.

When caffeine disturbs this restful sleep, you wake up with a handicap, leaving you more inclined to grab another cup of coffee. And just like that, you’re hooked.

So you think you’re doing right for your body, yet you’re really setting yourself back. Forget alcohol, blame it on the coffee.

Here are the 12 times your coffee actually didn’t help you. It all makes sense now.

1. When you had to sh*t immediately after.

2. When you bugged out at your desk about all the work you still had left to do.

3. When you couldn’t get out of bed the next morning.

4. When you tweaked at the person walking too slowly coming out of the subway.

5. When you were unbelievably shaky while holding your baby cousin for the first time.

6. When you got heart palpitations on the treadmill.

7. When you panicked right before an interview.

8. When you had an after-dinner drink and were up all night watching TBS reruns.

9. When you felt like a crackhead, but hadn’t done drugs since college.

10. When you got inexplicably angry over losing your favorite pen.

11. When you were meeting your partner’s parents for the first time and couldn’t stop talking.

12. When you needed another cup.

H/T: Quartz, Photo Courtesy: We Heart It