Boost your reaction time with caffeine

April 20, 2021 4 min read

Boost your reaction time with caffeine

Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

There are certain situations where reaction time matters a lot: in gaming, setting the hook on a big fish, many sports, a firefight, or professional situations.

Invigorating caffeine is known for increasing alertness of those who take it. Scientific research has been showing that it also increases reaction time in do-or-die situations.

Caffeine may also reduce fatigue and allow athletes to train harder.

And a relatively high dose of caffeine may deliver as much benefit in increasing alertness and improving reaction times as methamphetamine or modanifil.

Caffeine improves reaction times in sports

A very complicated scientific study of reaction times in taekwondo kicking found that caffeine reduced the amount of time it took to react in simulated combat [1].

Participants began their kick to the stomach area, a technique called Bandal Tchagui, in less time when they had taken a moderate dose of caffeine than when they were not on caffeine.

As you can see in this video, taekwondo artists are already blazingly fast and athletic. What can caffeine do for them??

Those studied launched their kicks faster when on caffeine than when on placebo. A placebo is a dose that does not contain the substance being studied, in this case caffeine.

The study concluded:

In summary, considering clinical practice and practical applications, our findings suggest that: (1) Caffeine supplementation may be used to improve reaction times in taekwondo athletes; (2) Coaches and trainers should consider caffeine supplementation to enable athletes to increase the intensity of combat; (3) When athletes fight several times within a single day, caffeine supplementation may delay fatigue and improve athletic performance, and (4) Caffeine ingestion may also increase the intensity of training sessions.

How does caffeine improve reaction times?

Another very complicated study looked into whycaffeine prompted faster reaction times [2]:

Caffeine has a well-established effect on reaction times (RTs) but the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying this are unclear.

In the present study, 15 female participants performed an oddball task after ingesting caffeine or a placebo, and electroencephalographic data were obtained.

... Caffeine has been the subject of great interest as a possible cognitive enhancer. One of its most consistently replicated cognitive effects is its reduction of reaction times (RTs) in speeded tasks (e.g. Childs and De Wit 2006; Haskell et al. 2005; Heatherley et al. 2005; Mclellan et al. 2016). What is less clear, however, is what neurocognitive mechanisms are behind this effect.

The study found that the brain mechanism that prompts quicker reaction times after ingesting caffeine is something called P3b latency.

Caffeine causes the body to release adrenaline

The University of California-Santa Barbara ScienceLine said it is believed that one reason caffeine prompts faster reaction times is because it causes the body to release adrenaline [3]:

What does caffeine do to cause the reaction time to increase?
Answer 1:

 

The simple answer is that caffeine stimulates the production of adrenaline, which is a hormone often called "the fight or flight hormone". The way this hormone normally works (without caffeine) is that when many nerves in the body are firing excessively (due to fear, pain, etc.) your pituitary gland releases adrenaline, which causes many changes in the body:
a) your pupils dilate
b) your breathing tubes expand to increase oxygen supply
c) your heart beats faster
d) more blood is supplied to big muscles and blood flow to the skin and stomach is reduced (prevent bleeding and avoid wasting energy on digestion)
e) sugar is released into the bloodstream
f) your muscles tense up to prepare for action.

These changes are designed to help you be alert.

Caffeine causes this release of adrenaline through a "fake-out".

 Caffeine boosts vigilance and logical reasoning

Another study of caffeine was titled, "Caffeine improves reaction time, vigilance and logical reasoning during extended periods with restricted opportunities for sleep." The article stated [4]:

Many occupational groups, such as shift workers, long-haul truck drivers, emergency responders and deployed military personnel, must maintain optimal cognitive and physical performance over several consecutive days; often, this occurs with inadequate sleep opportunities provided at non-optimal periods during the day.

...

A relatively high 600-mg dose of caffeine is as effective as prescription medications such as modafinil and amphetamines for improving cognitive function and countering sleep loss during periods of prolonged wakefulness (Wesensten et al. 2002, 2004, 2005a).

Daily consumption of caffeine is considered safe and without long-term risk for healthy adults (Bordeaux and Lieberman 2013; Higdon and Frei 2006; Nawrot et al. 2003). Thus, caffeine is a viable candidate to sustain productivity and safety in the workplace during periods of extended operations that restrict sleep.

Caffeine's real-world benefits

These beneficial effects of caffeine have positive effects in the real world. The study says when the cognitive functions are reduced by lack of sleep, there are more friendly fire incidents in combat zones and more accidents in the transportation industry.

The researchers concluded that caffeine use "could sustain workplace productivity and safety in occupational settings that provide less than optimal periods of sleep during successive days of operations and require personnel to function during the overnight hours."

If you don't want to drink coffee

If you need to get your caffeine but don't feel like you can drink coffee, tea, or an energy drink, try Viter Energy Mints [5]. If you're tooling along in your truck or out on patrol as a police officer and don't want a lot of bathroom breaks, the caffeinated mints are just the ticket.

The mints are sugar-free and freshen the breath, plus they contain invigorating B vitamins. They deliver 40 mg of caffeine per mint.

In addition to the caffeine and B vitamins, Viter Energy Mints contain peppermint or other varieties of mint. We did a whole blog on peppermint [7] and found that it may:

  • Reduce headaches
  • Prevent irritable bowel syndrome
  • Relieve indigestion
  • Alleviate cold and flu symptoms

Plus the mints taste great. Buy Viter Energy Mints at the link above or on our Amazon.com page [6].

 

Sources:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3942723/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5847000/

[3] http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=915

[4] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-014-3834-5

[5] https://www.goviter.com/collections/viter-energy-mints

[6] https://amzn.to/3jb7Gwg

[7] https://www.goviter.com/blogs/viter-energy-blog/peppermint-benefits

Mark Miller
Mark Miller



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