Beat Caffeine Addiction, Then Stay Awake With Placebos

Good news for those who get jitters, headaches, and really bad social graces when deprived of their caffeine fix—beating the habit and switching to a placebo can leave you feeling just as energised.

Photo by Kevin Lawver.

After dividing up 16 “regular caffeine users” (sounds so clinical!) into two groups, researchers gave half of them the equivalent of 20 ounces of strong coffee per day, while the other half thought they were getting the same fix. The big reveal is that everyone, getting real caffeine or fake, saw their brain getting more blood flow and activity, and the placebo crew felt just as awake or tired throughout the day as their temporarily lucky counterparts.

Unfortunately, the placebo takers also had unmistakable headaches and, temporarily, occasional decreases in alertness or energy. Once a heavy caffeine dependent got past their withdrawal symptoms, however, it appears their brain was happy to keep up the illusion that a caffeine-free beverage break at 3 p.m. was just as good as the real thing.

The full 13-page PDF study results are available at Springerlink (direct link). Tell us if you’ve had your own successful switch to a placebo, or quite the opposite, in the comments. It May Not Be Caffeine Keeping You Awake [via Source]

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