Drinking caffeinated coffee may temporarily mitigate the repercussions of reduced sleep

A new study exploring the impact of repeated sleep loss during a simulated workweek has found that consuming caffeinated coffee during the day helps minimize reductions in attention and cognitive function, compared to decaffeinated coffee.

While this effect occurred in the first three to four days of restricted sleep, by the fifth and final day, no differences were seen between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee drinkers. Therefore, this suggests that the beneficial effects of coffee for people with restricted sleep are temporary.

It is estimated that more than 30% of Western adult populations sleep less than the recommended seven to eight hours on weekday nights and 15% regularly sleep less than six hours. This can have a significant impact on people’s health and well-being, including causing drowsiness and impairing alertness and attention.

Previous research suggests that acute consumption of caffeinated coffee may reduce the impact of poor sleep on deficits in attention and cognitive function in a short-term setting. This study is one of the first to examine whether this effect can be translated into a real-world situation, where people who experience chronic sleep restriction often consume caffeinated beverages every day. Our study indicates that moderate coffee intake may mitigate some of the repercussions of reduced sleep for a few days, however this is not a substitute for a good long-term night’s sleep. “

Denise Lange, study co-author

The study was conducted at the state-of-the-art Aerospace Medicine Institute in Cologne, Germany. 26 participants who carried a genotype other than the gene encoding the adenosine A2A receptor were randomly assigned to groups that drank caffeinated coffee (containing 300 mg of caffeine) or decaffeinated coffee in double-blind conditions. For five days, all participants’ sleep was restricted to five hours per night and each day their subjective sleepiness was rated and levels of alertness, alertness, reaction time, accuracy and memory were assessed.


Institute of Scientific Information on Coffee

Magazine reference:

Baur, DM, et al. (2020) Coffee effectively attenuates deficient attention in carriers of the C / C allele of ADORA2A during chronic sleep restriction. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2020.110232.

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