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Coffee & Health
Mental performance

Using coffee to compensate for poor sleep: impact on vigilance and implications for workplace performance

J R Anderson et al, 2018.
Applied Ergonomics, Volume 70.
June 8, 2018


Poor sleep negatively impacts vigilance and is associated with reduced well-being and work productivity. While many individuals depend on caffeine to counteract the cognitive consequences of poor sleep and restore optimal work performance, few studies have naturalistically evaluated this strategy. This study examined the effects of coffee on vigilance, comparing individuals based on recent sleep quality. Sixty-nine participants completed two randomized, counterbalanced trials consisting of 237 ml water or coffee (100 mg caffeine), followed by a continuous performance test assessing vigilance at 30, 90, and 120 min. While coffee improved and stabilized reaction time at all three assessments regardless of recent sleep history, its effects on omission and commission errors were seen only at 90 min; coffee increased commission errors and only partially reduced omission errors in individuals reporting poor sleep quality. The use of coffee to combat poor sleep may therefore be detrimental in situations requiring inhibitory control.

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