Every coffee drinker has their own routine when it comes to satisfying the caffeine craving, whether that is five cups of filter before lunch, a mid-morning latte, or a flat white before work. Now, the US military has calculated a better way to do coffee – or at the very least, a way to maximize alertness while keeping caffeine intake to a minimum.
According to The Times, studies have shown the system ("2B-Alert" – see what they did there?) has enabled people to slash their caffeine consumption by as much as two-thirds without dampening their alertness. The research abstract has been published in the journal Sleep and was presented at the 33rd annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS) in San Antonio on June 12.
The algorithm determines the user's recommended schedule based on their sleep-wake cycle, desirable peak-alertness periods, minimum levels of alertness, and maximum caffeine consumption. And while the study authors clearly see potential from a military standpoint, the algorithm could have all sorts of uses and could even form the basis of an app.
"For example, if you pull an all-nighter, need to be at peak alertness between, say, 9am and 5pm, and desire to consume as little caffeine as possible, when and how much caffeine should you consume?" lead author Jaques Reifman, a Department of the Army Senior Research Scientist for Advanced Medical Technology, said in a statement.
"This is the type of question 2B-Alert was designed to answer."
You might end up with something like this: You wake up at 7am after a six-hour sleep and want to be alert from 10.30am to 6.30pm. The algorithm will advise two 200-milligram doses of caffeine (equivalent to a large mug of filter), one at 10am and another at 12 noon.
The recommendations are based on the caffeine reactions of an average person and so size, caffeine sensitivity, and other factors won't necessarily be taken into consideration. Essentially, unless you are utterly average, the optimization might be a little off. Still, according to the researchers, the tool outperformed the current US Army Guidelines, either by enhancing alertness by up to 40 percent or by reducing caffeine consumption by up to 40 percent.
The US military has a history of drug experimentation. Today, troops rely on stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall, and, of course, caffeine to keep awake and alert, with some snacks like beef jerky being caffeine-fortified.
But this is all incredibly tame in comparison to previous efforts to boost soldiers' performances with class A drugs like amphetamine.
[H/T: The Times]