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U.S. Army develops algorithm that shows how to get ‘optimal alertness’ from caffeine

The researchers behind the new study aimed to find the optimal balance between the amount of caffeine and the time it’s administered. To do so, they used data from four past caffeine-sleep studies and inputted them into an algorithm built on the unified model of performance, which is a mathematical model that accurately predicts the effects of sleep–wake schedules and caffeine consumption on simple neurobehavioral tasks.

The team, led by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Dr. Jaques Reifman, ran thousands of simulations across a wide range of doses and sleep-wake schedules.

“We found that by using our algorithm, which determines when and how much caffeine a subject should consume, we can improve alertness by up to 64 percent, while consuming the same total amount of caffeine,” Reifman told Science Daily. “Alternatively, a subject can reduce caffeine consumption by up to 65 percent and still achieve equivalent improvements in alertness.”

The algorithm could someday be used, for instance, by college students who want to know when they should consume caffeine “so you are as alert as possible during the exam,” Reifman told Live Science.

The optimal caffeine dose amounts and times depended on each individual scenario, so there’s no universal recommendation for when and much caffeine to consume. However, the U.S. Army is reportedly using the algorithm in experiments with soldiers in an effort to improve sleep health in the military, an organization in which sleep deprivation is a constant and often unavoidable problem.

The base algorithm looks like this:

If that’s not your cup of joe, a simplified version of the algorithm is available to the public through the 2B-Alert app, which lets users enter their sleep schedules and caffeine intake to find out when and how much caffeine they should consume.

Source: Big Think

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