Can an algorithm tell you the best time to drink coffee? Army tool aims to help soldiers stay alert

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Can an algorithm tell you the best time to drink coffee? US Army developing tool to help soldiers stay alert without consuming too much caffeine

  • System aims to pinpoint the time for safest, most effective caffeine consumption
  • It led to an average 40% boost in alertness, meaning caffeine intake was reduced
  • The tool creates a unique dosage strategy for each individual for best results 

Researchers with the US Army have developed an algorithm to perfectly time soldiers’ caffeine consumption so they stay alert even when sleep-deprived.

And, tests of the system have so far showed it can maximize the benefits of caffeine and even reduce coffee intake.

On average, the team says the tool boosted alertness by roughly 40 percent, meaning participants generally needed 40 percent less caffeine to feel awake. 

Researchers with the US Army have developed an algorithm to perfectly time soldiers’ caffeine consumption so they stay alert even when sleep-deprived. Stock image

The open-access system 2B-Alert Web 2.0 aims to pinpoint the right time for the safest and most effective caffeine consumption.

‘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?’ said principal investigator and senior author Jaques Reifman, PhD.

‘This is the type of question 2B-Alert was designed to answer.’

In a study presented in 2018, the researchers had perform psychomotor vigilance tasks (PVT) and indicate their sleep and caffeine intake data.

The algorithm then used the data to calculate a unique dosage strategy for each person.

Building off of this, the team added a slew of other factors to fine tune the results, including the desirable peak-alertness periods within a sleep/wake schedule, the minimum desirable level of alertness, and the maximum tolerable daily caffeine intake.

‘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,’ Reifman said.

The tool, which is freely available online, can be used for non-military applications, the researchers note.

As caffeine works differently for everyone, the results will vary.

But, past tests suggest the method can be effective in improving its effects and helping to keep coffee intake to a healthy minimum.

‘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 said.

‘Alternatively, a subject can reduce caffeine consumption by up to 65 percent and still achieve equivalent improvements in alertness.’

 





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