This Algorithm Will Tell You Exactly How Much Caffeine You Need to Stay Alert

The novel open-access tool can direct users to the exact caffeine dosages to achieve peak alertness.

Ah, Caffeine! It is the perfect morning stimulant but too much can make you jittery and on edge. Have you ever wondered just how much you need to stay alert but not suffer any of the negative consequences?

2B-Alert Web

Now, a new web-based caffeine optimization tool, called 2B-Alert Web, can tell you. The algorithm created using multiple sleep-deprivation and shift-work scenarios was even compared to the results found within the U.S. Army guidelines.

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The creators' analysis found that its solutions required on average 40% less caffeine to stay alert or improved alertness by an additional 40%.

"Our 2B-Alert Web tool allows an individual, in our case our service members, to optimize the beneficial effects of caffeine while minimizing its consumption," said principal investigator Jaques Reifman, Ph.D., a Department of the Army Senior Research Scientist for Advanced Medical Technology, serving at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Ft. Detrick, Maryland.

Reifman had already presented the algorithm at SLEEP 2018 in Baltimore, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), and had compared it to four previously published experimental studies of sleep loss. But, he then decided to take the algorithm even further.

An open-access tool

The algorithm is now incorporated in an open-access tool that allows users to input several other factors such as the "desirable peak-alertness periods within a sleep/wake schedule, the minimum desirable level of alertness, and the maximum tolerable daily caffeine intake."

This means the 2B-Alert Web 2.0 tool can now predict the alertness of a person as a function of his or her sleep/wake schedule and caffeine schedule. The freely available tool then also allows users to get ideal caffeine timing and doses to achieve peak alertness.

"For example, if you pull an all-nighter, need to be at peak alertness between, say, 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and desire to consume as little caffeine as possible, when and how much caffeine should you consume?" he said. "This is the type of question 2B-Alert was designed to answer."

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented at SLEEP 2019.

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