Most experts will tell you the caffeine is a drug that gives you a momentary boost of energy but will cause you your health in the long run. However, a new study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology states that caffeine and stress may be a great combination for women when taken in moderate doses, but may be the opposite for men.
The research indicates that when women consume caffeine, particularly coffee, they become more resilient to daily stresses and can show more effective coping mechanisms towards pressure-filled daily scenarios compared to their male counterparts.
According to a University of Bristol lecturer, Dr. Lindsay St. Claire, who was the research head, explained that the purpose of the research was to determine whether more caffeine meant more stress and disrupted interaction with work. The basis for this may have to do with previous studies which have shown how increased caffeine intake makes one irritable, unable to concentrate and ineffective, as it interferes with the normal release and functions of hormones that control stress, emotions and sleep.
Dr. St Claire’s team gathered sixty four female and male respondents, all of whom were in their early 20s. The respondents were given both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee to drink. The caffeine level in the caffeinated coffee that was used in the study was about amount of three coffee cups.
After consumption, they were asked to perform negotiation activities in same sex pairs. They were also asked to complete several puzzles and collaborative memory exercises.
The research team then tallied the findings. The males’ memory under stress was significantly lower than females’ after the consumption of caffeinated coffee. The women respondents were able to solve their puzzles a minute and forty seconds faster than the males in the caffeinated segment. According to the team, it was possible that the women, after having had coffee, had better collaboration and interaction within a group. Men, on the other hand, may become more aggressive and disorganized under stress.
Other researchers have a contradicting opinion. The author of Younger (Sexier) You and director of New York’s PATH Medical, Dr. Eric Braverman, thinks that this mini-research does not hold any bearing against the several other studies done on caffeine and stress. In an interview with AOL Health, he shared that while it is true that caffeine increases dopamine levels which cause you to become more focused and active in times of stress, gender wasn’t a factor here. According to Dr. Braverman, the results are reliant upon the group of participants taken in for the study.
He went on to explain that minus caffeine, women, middle-aged and older in particular, are known for being less able to handle stress compared to men. The gradual loss of muscle mass and bone density as women get older substantially affects their coping skills negatively. According to him, anyone’s stress – coping mechanisms can get a boost from caffeine, but only when taken in sustainable amounts. He also argues that women are not able to sustain excessive levels of caffeine without experiencing its negative effects. However, he does agree that studying the link between caffeine and stress is very crucial, especially because our society primarily runs on the substance.
What does this mean, then, for us? It does not matter whether you are male or female. If you need your cup of coffee in the AM to function properly, sip right ahead. Caffeine can be a friend instead of a foe to anyone as long as it is taken in moderate amounts, which should read: a maximum of three standard cups a day. When you experience muscle aches, fatigue, cravings, and headaches without caffeine, you may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms, a sign that your body has become too dependent on the substance. This can happen when you consistently consume more than four cups. Value a good night’s sleep, so resist coffee after 2 PM, or go decaf. Finally, keep your nutrition in tip-top shape, and sweat out any excess caffeine with physical exercise, the best ever pick-me-up no matter what time of day.
Skinny Mom Fact: Coffee is the World’s second most popular drink after water.