Good news for coffee lovers—caffeine improves your reaction speeds

Researchers have found that two espressos significantly improves your attention to detail and reaction times

Woman drinking coffee before exercise
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many of us use coffee to overcome the sluggishness of a lousy night's sleep. But while we might think of it as just a way to stop us nodding off at the office, scientists have found there are other benefits too.

Even if you're using the best workout equipment for home to exercise and improve your chances of a restful night, you may still find yourself struggling to keep up with your busy post-lockdown routines. 

Fortunately, a new study showed that participants consuming caffeine equivalent to two espressos had improved reaction times, which can have significant performance effects for driving, sports, and other fast-paced activities. 

The researchers took 21 people who don't regularly consume caffeine and asked them to take a pill. The participants didn't know if they were given a caffeine pill or a placebo. 

An hour later, specialized software assessed their dynamic visual acuity, the ability to spot small visual details with precision. The following day, the group repeated the test after taking the alternate pill. 

After analyzing the data, the team noticed that participants generally noticed details following the caffeine pill more accurately than the placebo. This was true for details moving both horizontally and randomly.

Cyclist drinking coffee

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There were also reaction speed improvements for horizontal details but not for randomly moving objects. Interestingly, the group also reported they felt performance improvements following caffeine too. 

Although coffee has been a popular drink for almost 600 years, researchers are only just starting to understand the drink's impact on our bodies. We know it helps overcome drowsiness, but there are several other effects as well. 

Recent investigations found that drinking a coffee 30 minutes before your workout helps burn more calories and aids your weight loss goals. The same study also noted that the fat-burning potential was more significant if you exercised in the afternoon. 

However, it's best to take your coffee black if you want to drop pounds. Most coffee stores add milk (dairy or alternative), sugar, syrups, and even cream, undermining the drink's fat-burning potential. 

As with most things, the key is to take your coffee in moderation. Too much caffeine can impact your sleep, upset your stomach, and make you feel anxious. If you're feeling continually tired, it's best to focus on getting high-quality shuteye. 

If you use one of the best fitness trackers to monitor your sleep, you can use the data from the wearable device to spot patterns and make changes to your routines to get a better night's rest. 

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.