Does coffee help you concentrate?

Does coffee actually help you focus, or is that just a myth? We look at the evidence.

Pouring coffee OUA logo

We all know the feeling. It’s Saturday morning, a day you’ve set aside for study, yet your motivation is minimal. You’re exhausted after a long week and the only thing that can drag you from slumber is a steaming hot cup of coffee.

While you may feel as though your daily cup of joe turns you into the superhero you need to be, it’s important to weigh-up the pros and cons.

Let’s explore what the experts have to say about how coffee affects us, particularly as students.

The benefits of coffee for students

Packed with high levels of antioxidants and mind-buzzing nutrients, there are a range of benefits that come with coffee. After all, it’s not one of the world’s most popular beverages for no good reason. For students in particular, many view it as liquid gold.

So, besides the buzz, what are the benefits?

Enhances short-term memory

Caffeine can help to improve alertness and enhance short-term capabilities so that you can easily learn and absorb new information. This can be helpful during a long study session, allowing you to retain more detail over a short period of time.

In fact, studies show that drinking a cup of coffee before you hit the books can help you absorb information for more than 24 hours.

Increases concentration and focus

When you’re studying at home, you’re often surrounded by distractions that can make it difficult to check things off your to-do list. Coffee can work to centre our focus and improve alertness when combing through academic journals or listening to lectures.

Improves mood

The golden-child of drinks, coffee can make you feel less blue. One of the many reasons for this is that caffeine causes your body to increase the level of dopamine to your brain, which in turn makes you feel happy.

A study conducted by Harvard University found that people who drink coffee everyday are 20% less likely to become depressed.

Coffee works differently for different students

Before you start gulping down four cups of coffee a day, it’s important to remember that caffeine affects people differently. While for some it may help with alertness, others may feel that their anxiety increases.

The quantity of caffeine also matters, as some may get the burst of energy they need with one espresso shot, while others may need three or four cups to fully recharge.

If you’re a newbie to coffee culture, consider taking it slow before your next online study session to see how you go. Keep track of your reaction and if you find you’re able to focus better, then consuming caffeine before tackling your next academic task may be an option for you.

Is coffee unhealthy?

Once deemed a predecessor of heart disease and stunted growth, for years doctors warned people to avoid coffee at all costs.

However, recent studies have found no significant link between coffee and heart-related issues such as high cholesterol, stroke, heart attack or irregular heartbeat. In fact studies show that the benefits of coffee go beyond concentration and memory.

Beyond the buzz: Further benefits of coffee

Studies have shown that caffeine may:

  • Help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 11%.
  • Boost your intake of antioxidants, which are known to fight the oxidative damage that can cause cancers.
  • Slow down the metabolic processes that accelerate age-related problems including dementia and Alzheimer’s.

There’s more to higher achievement than caffeine

If you really want to improve your study habits, you might need more than coffee to achieve results. After all, the effects of caffeine are temporary.

For longer term success, we suggest making the most of your study plan, eating healthy and exercising regularly.

You’ll also want to prioritise getting a good night’s sleep, which caffeine can hinder. As with anything in life, moderation is key.