Several European research entities have carried out a study to determine the effects of caffeine intake during the day. The research wants to test whether coffee consumption during a working week helps counteract the effects of inadequate sleep on people’s attention and cognitive performance.
Worldwide, 80% of those who consume caffeine on a daily basis get it from coffee. Even so, the effect on individuals may vary. In this study, the gene that makes us more or less sensitive to caffeine, ADORA2A, was taken into account for the first time. Genetic studies conducted over the past decade have revealed that this gene conditions the effects of caffeine on individuals. A key aspect of the research was the selective enrolment of participants.
Coffee helps counteract the lack of adequate sleep but is not a substitute for adequate sleep
The 26 subjects were randomly assigned to two groups: “regular coffee” or “decaffeinated coffee.” In both cases, the pattern of consumption distribution over time was followed, but with participants receiving one type of coffee or the other. Over the course of the 5 days of the study, their sleep was limited to 5 hours per night.
To monitor the effects of caffeine, subjects rated their subjective sleepiness and performed different attention exercises where their alertness, concentration ability, working memory and some subjective higher-order functions were analysed.
The findings of this study support its premise, as regular coffee helped counteract the impact of sleep loss compared to decaffeinated coffee. Responses to tasks in the regular coffee group were faster and more efficient and accurate.
The results suggest that coffee consumption can help counteract the attention deficiencies caused by lack of sleep in people “genetically sensitive” to caffeine. Even so, specialists stress that coffee cannot replace adequate sleep. The same study showed that from the fifth day of sleep restriction, there was no longer a performance difference between the two coffee groups.