Can a cup of coffee improve my attention and memory if I’m feeling tired?

Q. Can a cup of coffee improve my attention and memory if I’m feeling tired?


A. While it’s true that caffeine does improve cup of coffee or teaattention and research has shown it can improve cognitive function, keep in mind that the boost is only temporary.

Recently caffeine has been making headlines for its health benefits, whether it is consumed in the form of coffee or tea. Coffee beans and tea leaves are rich in antioxidants, and some vitamins and minerals. Regular, moderate consumption of caffeine has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, diabetes and Parkinson’s, and to be beneficial in treating headaches.

Having said that, for some people, as they age, caffeine can have negative effects. It is a natural stimulant and can interfere with sleep. We seem to become more sensitive to this as we age. It could be that due to the slowing of our metabolism, the impact of caffeine may last longer. Limit your caffeine intake if it is affecting you in this way.

Because caffeine is habit-forming and everyone has a different tolerance level for how many cups of coffee they’ll need to get that extra zip in attention and alertness, it’s important to listen to your body. Know what you can comfortably tolerate before the negative effects of this stimulant start to outweigh the positive benefits.

I suggest you go ahead and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning to help wake you up and get your day going, just make sure to monitor your intake. You may need to get into the habit of only having coffee in the morning and none after lunch, especially if you are having difficulty falling asleep at night.

– Dr. Carol Greenwood, Baycrest senior scientist and professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto

Learn more about nutrition and its impact on brain health