Drinking more coffee could brighten mood as daylight hours decrease: study

Feeling exhausted, listless, and sad after setting your clocks back an hour?

The answer to feeling better might be found in drinking more java, more often.

A new survey, funded by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, has declared that drinking a cup of coffee every four hours can lead to an improvement in cognition and mood, as well as improve reaction times and alertness.

The survey polled 5,000 residents across the U.K., Italy, Finland, Germany and Poland, asking them to rate their anxiety and concentration levels as the daylight hours become fewer. Participants were also asked to rate their physical activity levels in the winter months.

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One in five respondents said they feel more anxious as the days get shorter, while a quarter said they find it harder to concentrate and lose motivation to exercise.

Thirty per cent said they also experience depression related to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and are more prone to sadness once the clocks go back.

The survey looked at the participants’ caffeine consumption habits during shorter days and found that 29 per cent used coffee to give them a shot of energy, 20 per cent drank coffee to feel happier, and 21 per cent noted that consuming the brew helped with their alertness and concentration.

“There is evidence that coffee polyphenols may pass the blood-brain barrier, exert anti-neuroinflammatory effects and even promote neurogenesis, hence resulting in decreased risk of both cognitive and affective disorders,” University of Catania assistant professor Giuseppe Grosso said in a statement.

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Existing research has shown that 75 milligrams of caffeine – the equivalent of one cup of coffee – every four hours can help people feel happier throughout the day. And the smell of coffee is not only a nice aroma to wake up to; research has found it can help memory function and stimulate alertness.

People who find it harder to hit the gym during the winter months could also benefit from a steaming cup of the good stuff. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that caffeine consumption can help improve endurance, both in terms of performance and capacity.

They said coffee can even help athletes feel like they’re exerting less effort while working out.

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