Wonderful Engineering

New Algorithm Tells How Much Caffeine You Need to Stay Alert

Most of our readers know what they need in the morning; a dose of the caffeine. We all have been through mornings without any caffeine, and frankly, it just sucks big time. However, take too much of it, and you will end up being jittery and on edge. So, how do you figure out the right amount of caffeine so that you can remain alert without incurring any of the negative effects? Say hello to 2B-Alert Web!

2B-Alert Web is a web-based optimization tool for caffeine. The algorithm has been developed by making use of different sleep-deprivation and shift-work scenarios and has even included the results that were found in the US Army guidelines. According to the creators of the 2B-Alert Web, on average, the users can increase their alertness by an additional 40%.

Principal investigator Jaques Reifman, Ph.D., Department of the Army Senior Research Scientists for Advanced Medical Technology, currently serving at the US Army Medical Research and Development Command at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, said, ‘Our 2B-Alert Web tool allows an individual, in our case our service members, to optimize the beneficial effects of caffeine while minimizing its consumption.’

Reifman has already presented the algorithm during the SLEEP 2018 in Baltimore – a yearly meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS). He compared it to four formerly published studies, experimental in nature, of sleep loss. However, he then decided on taking the algorithm further.

The said algorithm has now undergone incorporation in a tool that offers open-access to users. The users can enter various inputs, including the ‘desirable peak-alertness periods within a sleep/wake schedule, the minimum desirable level of alertness, and the maximum tolerable daily caffeine intake.’

Simply put, this means that the 2B-Alert Web 2.0 tool can be used for predicting the person’s alertness as a function of his or her sleep/wake schedule and caffeine schedule. The tool is free to use and enables the users to ascertain their optimal caffeine timing and doses for achieving their peak alertness. Reifman said, ‘For example, if you pull an all-nighter, need to be at peak alertness between, say, 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and desire to consume as little caffeine as possible, when and how much caffeine should you consume? This is the type of question 2B-Alert was designed to answer.’

The research’s abstract has been published in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and shall also be presented at the SLEEP 2019.