A study found that after restricting sleep to 5 hours per night, caffeine use no longer improved alertness or performance after three nights.
Results show that relative to placebo, caffeine significantly improved psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) performance during the first 2 days, but not the last 3 days of sleep restriction.
“We were particularly surprised that the performance advantage conferred by two daily 200 mg doses of caffeine was lost after three nights of sleep restriction,” says lead author Tracy Jill Doty, PhD, research scientist at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, in a release. “These results are important, because caffeine is a stimulant widely used to counteract performance decline following periods of restricted sleep. The data from this study suggests that the same effective daily dose of caffeine is not sufficient to prevent performance decline over multiple days of restricted sleep.”
The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and presented at the SLEEP 2016 conference.
The study group consisted of 48 healthy individuals who participated in a double blind, placebo-controlled study. Sleep was restricted to 5 hours of time in bed for a total of 5 days. Participants were administered either 200 mg of caffeine or a placebo twice daily. A cognitive task battery was administered hourly during the wake periods and included a 10-minute PVT, Profile of Mood States (POMS), and the Stanford Sleepiness Scale (SSS). A modified Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (mMWT) was administered six times per day.