A study (#0473) that will be presented later this morning as a poster reports that caffeine use prevents increased risk taking after 75 hours of total sleep deprivation.
The study at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research involved 25 healthy adults between 20 and 35 years of age who were deprived of sleep for three nights. Twelve participants received 200 mg caffeine gum bi-hourly from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. each morning (for a total of 800 mg per morning); 13 participants received identical placebo gum.
A behavioral task of risky behavior was administered after 51 hours of wakefulness and again after 75 hours of sleep deprivation. Results show that risk taking was unaffected in the placebo group after 51 hours, but increased significantly by 75 hours.
The caffeine group remained unchanged at both time points and was significantly less risky than the placebo group at 75 hours. The study suggests that extreme sleep deprivation may cause individuals to reach a “breaking point” at which they are less likely to inhibit risky behavior.
You can download the SLEEP 2009 abstract supplement as an 11 MB file in PDF format.