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Algorithm to suggest how much coffee to consume

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For a lot of us, waking up in the morning is synonymous with drinking a cup of hot coffee. Caffeine is known for reducing drowsiness and countering effects of sleep deprivation. However, have you ever wondered what is the right quantity and time to consume coffee? As it turns out, a recent study has found out just that and has proposed an automated algorithm that will help in identifying effective and safe dosages of caffeine consumption. This will enhance alertness when one is sleep deprived.

“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 per cent, while consuming the same total amount of caffeine. Alternatively, a subject can reduce caffeine consumption by up to 65 percent and still achieve equivalent improvements in alertness,” says Jaques Reifman, a principal investigator and senior author according to a report in ScienceDaily.

The study, in order to arrive at the result, used an accepted mathematical model that gauged the effects that sleep deprivation and caffeine can have on psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) performance. In order to infer when and how much caffeine one must consume to maximise alertness during sleep loss, albeit safely, the result was combined with efficient optimisation algorithm. Sleep/wake schedule provided by the user and maximum level of caffeine that is allowed are taken into consideration while deducing the algorithm. The output is a caffeine-dosing strategy.

Four previously published experimental studies of sleep loss were compared and computed in order to arrive at the algorithm. Two dosing strategies, one that maximised the predicted PVT performance using the same amount of caffeine as in the original studies, and another that achieved an equivalent level of performance as in the original studies using a lower amount of caffeine were computed for each study.

When compared with the original dosing strategies as mentioned in the studies, the US Army’s algorithm found out ways that could enhance or reduce neurobehavioral performance by up to 64 per cent. These results, the authors feel, do point to the fact that the algorithm can control the timing and amount of caffeine to the particular sleep/wake schedule of each study condition in order to enhance its benefits.

“Our algorithm is the first quantitative tool that provides automated, customised guidance for safe and effective caffeine dosing to maximise alertness at the most needed times during any sleep-loss condition,” Reifman said.

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