The US Army Develops Algorithm That Tells Optimum Time for Caffeine Fix

Technology > IT

A cup of hot coffee. / Photo by: Felix Broennimann via Pixabay


Dr. Jaques Reifman has developed an algorithm for the US Army that can predict how much caffeine can be consumed to maximize the alertness of soldiers at the desired time and duration. Not only does the algorithm improve alertness by 64 percent but it also cuts down caffeine consumption by as much as 65 percent, according to Luke Dormehl, writing for Digital Trends. 

While the algorithm can also be used by the public, it is geared towards soldiers engaged in combat who may not have the luxury of sleeping eight hours a day. As many as 40 percent of all servicemen and women sleep less than five hours each night on a regular basis. But the algorithm can also be used with civilians, particularly those in the transportation industry, medical caregivers, firefighters, and students. The last group can use the algorithm to find out when they should consume caffeine so they can stay alert as much as possible during examinations. The optimal caffeine dosage and the ideal time to have it is dictated per individual, so there can never be a uniform recommendation for when and how much caffeine should be consumed.  

Caffeine is the most popular stimulant in the world, with 90 percent of Americans taking it in some form every day. It improves the performance of sleep-deprived people on cognitive tasks, even after long periods of restricted sleep. But the consumption of high amounts of coffee over a period of several days can inhibit sleep-deprived people from sleeping, a condition known as “sleep debt.”

The US Army is testing the experimental algorithm on soldiers undergoing training. Civilians can access a simplified version of the algorithm through the 2B-Alert website. The website hosts an app that allows users to enter their sleep schedules and caffeine intake to determine when and how much caffeine they should consume.