As we learned from one of our most recent original scary stories, a life without coffee is not a very happy one, so it stands to reason that by corollary, coffee is happiness. I mean, I’m certainly in a much better place after taking my first sip of coffee in the morning than I was but two seconds before it. And as it turns out, the people seem to agree. A new consumer study suggests that drinking coffee will help improve Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
As reported by the Independent, SAD is a mood change brought on by the shortening of the daylight hours during the colder months, with symptoms that include “irritability, loss of interest in normal everyday activities and lack of energy,” per the NHS. For the study, commissioned by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, 5,000 individuals from around Europe were surveyed about lifestyle and diet choices, which can contribute to SAD. They found that 28% of those surveyed “experience depression or increased feelings of sadness” as the number of daylight hours decreased. 21% said they felt more anxious, 24% stated they found it harder to concentrate, and 25% said they experienced decreased motivation to exercise.
But it’s coffee to the rescue. When examining prior studies on the effects of diet and exercise on mood, researchers noted a correlation between coffee consumption and increased mood. Specifically, they found that consuming 75mg of caffeine—roughly one cup of coffee—once every four hours “could result in a pattern of sustained mood improvement over the course of the day.” Mood, energy, alertness, and concentration were all improved by participants in the study, per the Independent.
But it’s more than caffeine. Giuseppe Grosso, an assistant professor at the University of Catania in Italy and lead author, states that some of coffee’s macronutrients may also be having a positive effect on the brain. Per Gross, polyphenols may be able to pass from the blood into the brain, where they can have anti-neuroinflammatory effects as well as aid in the formation of new neurons. These could additionally help in easing the risk of affective disorders like SAD.
With the weather changing, chances are you may be drinking more coffee already. And as luck would have it, drinking coffee may be doing you more good than you knew.