Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

The U.S. Army has developed an algorithm that can calculate what?

The research, presented at this week's SLEEP 2018 conference in Baltimore and written up in the journal Sleep, also showed the java-shy could cut their caffeine consumption by up to 65 percent and still experience a similar increase in alertness.

The authors conclude by reporting that they plan to incorporate this algorithm into their existing open-access web tool, called 2B-Alert, meaning that any burnt-out worker with an Internet connection will soon be able to convert their manic coffee binges into optimized, restrained doses. The downside is that caffeine, especially high amounts consumed over several days, can prevent sleep-deprived people from making up lost sleep, a measure known as "sleep debt". The U.S. Army, in an effort to keep staff and soldiers awake during long nights and guard shifts, commissioned research to determine the exact, most efficient use of caffeine.

"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", principal investigator Jaques Reifman said in a statement. The algorithm takes into account several features including sleep schedules of individuals and calculates the amount of coffee that they need.

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"Our algorithm is the first quantitative tool that provides automated, customized guidance for safe and effective caffeine dosing to maximize alertness at the most needed times during any sleep-loss condition", Reifman told Science Daily. Computer simulations were done based on performance and dosing was perfected. In one study for example, participants were given 400 milligrams of caffeine at the same time each day for five days till they had 2 gms of caffeine. "Forty percent of [these servicemen and women] sleep less than five hours per night on a consistent basis".

Four dosing strategies from previous studies were compared to the algorithm developed by the researchers.

Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant to counter the effects of sleep loss on neurobehavioral performance. The second strategy would achieve the same level of performance while using a lower amount of caffeine. That is still in the works say the researchers. The US soldiers are being tested to validate the predictions of the algorithm to estimate and suggest caffeine use. Sleep deprivation is common and this algorithm may help maximize the effects of caffeine during sleep deprivation he said.

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