Health & Wellbeing

US Army algorithm determines ideal caffeine dosage patterns

US Army algorithm determines i...
The US Army has developed an algorithm that can optimize your caffeine consumption to maximize alertness when experiencing sleep loss
The US Army has developed an algorithm that can optimize your caffeine consumption to maximize alertness when experiencing sleep loss
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An example of the proposed smartphone app that could deliver personalized caffeine dosage strategies
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An example of the proposed smartphone app that could deliver personalized caffeine dosage strategies
The US Army has developed an algorithm that can optimize your caffeine consumption to maximize alertness when experiencing sleep loss
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The US Army has developed an algorithm that can optimize your caffeine consumption to maximize alertness when experiencing sleep loss

How many cups of coffee do you have a day? It's not a stretch to say that caffeine is the world's most popular drug. A recent study found that 85 percent of American adults consume the drug in some form every day, but when and how frequently should we be taking a caffeine hit to get the best effect from it?

A new study conducted by a US Army research center has developed an algorithm that reportedly can optimize an ideal caffeine dosage strategy to maximize alertness when experiencing lack of sleep. The research is led by Jaques Reifman, director of DoD Biotechnology High Performance Computing Software Applications Institute and the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

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

The system can generate personalized caffeine dosage suggestions based on a user inputing sleep and caffeine intake data, as well as completing a series of psychomotor vigilance tasks (PVT). These PVTs are essentially simple response time tests, conducted at various times over a couple of days and logged against a person's sleep and caffeine-intake schedule. This data is used by the algorithm to calculate an ideal dosage strategy for the individual.

An example of the proposed smartphone app that could deliver personalized caffeine dosage strategies
An example of the proposed smartphone app that could deliver personalized caffeine dosage strategies

While the technology has obviously been developed with military applications in mind, the US Army is currently licensing the software with a view on producing a commercial smartphone app for public use. The proposed app would learn an individual user's habits, as well as potentially logging fitness tracker data, to help optimize the best caffeine schedule for peak cognitive timing.

An open source version of the system, called 2B-Alert, is currently available offering a limited demonstration of the technology based on older research. This sample system delivers results based on sleep and caffeine-intake inputs but doesn't deliver personalized dosage strategies as it doesn't include PVT data.

"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," says Reifman.

The new study was published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

2 comments
Phileaux
Or just take Provigil (modafinil), the US military purchases the largest amount from the manufacturer. Can only stay awake for 72hrs then sleep psycosis begins.
Johannes
Reifman could perhaps read Norman Ohler's book, "Blitzed", which tells the story of the use of more powerful substances than caffeine in 1930s/40s Germany. Theo Morell was, sadly, ahead of his time. And what of caffeine's diuretic effect - do soldiers stay awake for longer only to spend more of their time at the pissoir?