Not shy of a few studies on human behaviour under stress or strain, the US military has recently published results into the affect of sleep deprivation and caffeine consumption on their military personnel.
The findings have helped create a sort of ‘calculator’ for servicemen and women on just how much coffee they should be consuming to stay alert.
Published in the journal Sleep and conducted by Dr. Jacques Reifman of the U.S. Army Medical Research, the report took around a decade to piece together.
We’re all too aware of the boost provided by coffee. The health benefits of coffee can even extend your lifespan.
Sleep deprivation plagues the planet. Coffee keeps many of us propped up throughout the day after a poor nights sleep or a self-inflicted late night.
Currently the treatment for lack of sleep – even in the forces – is to prop yourself up with caffeine-laden drinks and food items. Coffee being the prime choice of many.
This is likely the explanation for this decade-long study by the US and the need for a defined formula for the perfect dosage per person.
The actual experiments were conducted to test various sleep deprivation scenarios. Working out the difference between how the human body responds to 60+ hours without sleep vs 3 hours sleep per night for an extended period.
One major benefit of this is that we all benefit from the study. Much like with penicillin, without the United States spending a fortune on the studies we wouldn’t have our very own caffeine calculator!
Well, to call it a calculator is a little bit of a stretch. It’s more of a very complex equation that helps you work out the optimum level of caffeine you need to stay as alert as if you had eight hours of sleep the night before.
It’s also capable of determining the real-time effect of what a specific caffeine dosage will do to a person’s alertness. A particularly valuable tool for our armed forces in stressful situations.
How much should I drink?
Here are a few examples of how much coffee you would have to consume to be at the same level of alertness as you would with eight hours of sleep:
- 5 hours sleep per night: Two cups of weak coffee right after waking up — followed by another two cups, four hours later.
- Normal sleep pattern but working an overnight shift: Drink two cups of weak coffee right at the start of your shift.
- Not sleeping for more than a day or two: Drink the equivalent of two cups of coffee at midnight, 04:00 and 08:00.
The idea is to never exceed the upper threshold of 400 milligrams of caffeine within your bloodstream at any one time. Which is much easier said than done.
In this study, a ‘weak cup of coffee’ would consist of 100 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
An app is being developed to allow soldiers to determine just how much coffee/caffeine they need to take based upon the criteria listed above (and further metrics).
There is a rudimentary web app available for you to get a better idea should you want to spend some time without sleep and propped up on coffee.
Well worth a look if you suffer from lack of sleep on a regular basis, now if only they could do a study on the effect of bacon sandwiches and sleep deprivation…