I’ll admit it—there have been many times in the past when I have made a Starbucks trip in an attempt to make up for poor sleep. While a cup of joe can push you through the day, allowing you to do the bare minimum just to make it, new research finds that it does not help get you back on track.
The Effects of Caffeine
Inadequate sleep puts a significant toll on our brain function. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks can often give us the impression that we have energy and brain clarity, and that’s why researchers at Michigan State University wanted to know more about caffeine and sleep quality—and how well caffeine actually counteracts inadequate sleep duration.
The study looked at more than 275 individuals who had gone without sleep and then consumed caffeine or a placebo. 200 milligrams of caffeine (~2 cups of coffee) was delivered via capsule. Participants were then asked to perform a basic task and then a more challenging task with multiple steps to be completed in order—no skipping or repeating steps.
The study found that lack of sleep worsened overall performance in both tasks, and caffeine wasn’t enough to help participants complete the challenging tasks. Caffeine did slightly help with the more basic tasks, but not the difficult ones.
Although caffeine can help you stay away, it doesn’t do much to prevent procedural errors that can cause car accidents and medical mistakes, according to Kimberly Fenn, Ph.D.
Although caffeine in many cases, can improve mood, reduce sleepiness, it does not replace a good night’s sleep. Instead of relying on caffeine, we need to prioritize consistent quality sleep.
If you want to learn how you can sleep better, check out these resources and products below.