The post-lunch effect of regular and decaffeinated coffee on psychomotor performance: a randomized double-blind cross-over study

Suganthi S. Ramachandran, Vijay L. Kumar, S. N. Dwivedi, Vishwajeet Singh, Pooja Gupta


Background: This study aimed to compare the effect of regular coffee and decaffeinated coffee on psychomotor performance in healthy volunteers during post-lunch period.

Methods: In this randomized double-blind cross-over study, adult healthy volunteers were given hot coffee (3 g each of regular or decaffeinated coffee) during post-lunch period. Psychomotor functions (critical flicker-fusion frequency (CFF), choice reaction time (CRT) and error count in hand-steadiness test (HST)), blood pressure and heart rate were measured pre-lunch, pre-coffee (1-hour post-lunch) and 1-hour post-coffee consumption. Subjective ratings of sleepiness and mood were also assessed during post-lunch sessions.

Results: The mean age of the participants (n=16) was 27.4±2.7 years with a male: female ratio of 7:9. There was no significant deterioration in psychomotor performance post-lunch when compared to pre-lunch on both the days. The mean CFF, CRT, errors committed in HST and cardiovascular parameters did not differ significantly between regular coffee and decaffeinated groups during post-lunch sessions. There was no significant difference in values of cardiovascular parameters as well as subjective ratings of sleep and mood between two groups.

Conclusions: In healthy adult individuals’ consumption of both regular coffee and decaffeinated coffee during the post-lunch period did not affect psychomotor performance.


Caffeine, Coffee, Choice reaction time, Critical flicker fusion frequency, Hand steadiness test, Psychomotor performance

Full Text:



Monk TH. The post-lunch dip in performance. Clin. Sports Med. 2005;24(2):e15-23.

Smith AP, Rusted JM, Eaton-Williams P. Effects of caffeine given before and after lunch on sustained attention. Neuropsychobiology. 1990;23(3):160-3.

Quinlan PT, Lane J, Moore KL. The acute physiological and mood effects of tea and coffee: The role of caffeine level. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2000;66(1):19-28.

Smith AP, Sturgess W, Gallagher J. Effects of a low dose of caffeine given in different drinks on mood and performance. Hum Psychopharmacol Clin Exp. 1999;14(7):473-82.

Smith AP, Rusted JM, Savory M. The effects of caffeine, impulsivity and time of day on performance, mood and cardiovascular function. J Psychopharmacol Oxf Engl. 1991;5:120-8.

Zhou A, Taylor AE, Karhunen V. Habitual coffee consumption and cognitive function: a Mendelian randomization meta-analysis in up to 415,530 participants. Sci Rep. 2018;8:7526.

Lieberman HR, Tharion WJ, Shukitt-Hale B. Effects of caffeine, sleep loss, and stress on cognitive performance and mood during U.S. Navy SEAL training. Sea-Air-Land. Psychopharmacology (Berl.). 2001;164(3):250-61.

Camfield DA, Silber BY, Scholey AB. A randomised placebo-controlled trial to differentiate the acute cognitive and mood effects of chlorogenic acid from decaffeinated coffee. PloS One. 2013;8(12):e82897.

Dawkins L, Shahzad FZ, Ahmed SS. Expectation of having consumed caffeine can improve performance and mood. Appetite. 2011;57(3):597-600.

Hindmarch I, Rigney U, Stanley N. A naturalistic investigation of the effects of day-long consumption of tea, coffee and water on alertness, sleep onset and sleep quality. Psychopharmacology (Berl.). 2000;149(3):203-16.

Haskell-Ramsay CF, Jackson PA, Forster JS. The acute effects of caffeinated black coffee on cognition and mood in healthy young and older adults. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1386.

Renouf M, Marmet C, Guy P. Nondairy creamer, but not milk, delays the appearance of coffee phenolic acid equivalents in human plasma. J Nutr. 2010;140(2):259-63.

NHIS - Adult Tobacco Use - Glossary (2019). Available at: Accessed on 23 March 2021.

Meredith SE, Julian LM, Hughes JR. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. J Caffeine Res. 2013;3(3):114-30.

Bordeaux B, Lieberman HR. Caffeine content in foods and beverages. Available at: Accessed on 27 March 2021.

Luczak A, Sobolewski A. The relationship between critical flicker fusion frequency (CFFF) and temperamental characteristics. Int J Occup Saf Ergon. 2000;6(4):493-505.

Smith AP, Miles C. The effects of lunch on cognitive vigilance tasks. Ergonomics. 1986;29(10):1251-61.

Executive Summary of Study on Domestic Consumption of Tea in India. Available at: 62018_pdf5940.pdf. Accessed on 27 March 2021.

Smith AP, Kendrick AM, Maben AL. Effects of breakfast and caffeine on performance and mood in the late morning and after lunch. Neuropsychobiology. 1992;26(4):198-204.

Irwin C, McCarty D, KhalesiS, Desbrow B. Caffeine Content and Perceived Sensory Characteristics of Pod Coffee: Effects on Mood and Cognitive Performance. Curr Res Nutr Food Sci J. 2018;6(2):329-45.

Bovim G, Naess P, Helle J. Caffeine influence on the motor steadiness battery in neuropsychological tests. J. Clin. Exp. Neuropsychol. 1995;17(3):472-6.

Miller LS, Lombardo TW, Fowler SC. Caffeine, but not time of day, increases whole-arm physiological tremor in non-smoking moderate users. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 1998;25(2):131-3.

McLellan TM, Caldwell JA, Lieberman HR. A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016;71:294-312.

Shukitt-Hale B, Miller MG, Chu YF. Coffee, but not caffeine, has positive effects on cognition and psychomotor behavior in aging. Age (Dordr). 2013;35(6):2183-92.

Robelin M, Rogers PJ. Mood and psychomotor performance effects of the first, but not of subsequent, cup-of-coffee equivalent doses of caffeine consumed after overnight caffeine abstinence. Behav Pharmacol. 1998;9(7):611-8.

Nurminen ML, Niittynen L, Korpela R. Coffee, caffeine and blood pressure: a critical review. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999;53(11):831-9.