Health Watch: Caffeine & Self-Control
A new study indicates that caffeine intake prevents risk taking behavior after extreme sleep deprivation. Now, who would commission a study like this? The US military, of course!
The research took 25 healthy volunteers, subjected them to three consecutive days of sleep deprivation (totaling 75 hours) and then gave them a double-blind test involving the regular intake of either 200mg caffeine gum or a placebo gum, bi-hourly between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.
The subjects then took part in a risk taking analysis test involving inflating balloons for money without causing them to burst. The results indicated that those who were taking caffeine throughout the experiment didn’t change their basic personal level of risk taking behavior, regardless of how long they were deprived of sleep. For those not on the caffeine regimen, however, had a significant increase in their impulsive and risky behavior.
While many of us don’t regularly stay up for three days straight if we can help it, there have been other studies that have recorded this kind of risk taking behavior increases even with sustained chronic sleep deprivation — for example, regularly getting just three hours of sleep per night. Further studies will be done to evaluate how caffeine impacts this type of deprivation.
So the next time you’re feeling in the mood to throw caution to the wind…knock back a shot of espresso and wait awhile. It may result in you keeping your pocketbook — and dignity — intact.