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Free Content Combination of bright light and caffeine as a countermeasure for impaired alertness and performance during extended sleep deprivation

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Effects of four conditions (Dim Light-Placebo, Dim Light-Caffeine, Bright Light-Placebo and Bright Light-Caffeine) on alertness, and performance were studied during the night-time hours across 45.5 h of sleep deprivation. Caffeine (200 mg) was administered at 20.00 and 02.00 hours and bright-light exposure (>2000 lux) was from 20.00 to 08.00 hours each night. The three treatment conditions, compared to the Dim Light-Placebo condition, enhanced night-time performance. Further, the combined treatment of caffeine and all-night bright light (Bright Light-Caffeine) enhanced performance to a larger degree than either the Dim Light-Caffeine or the Bright Light-Placebo condition. Beneficial effects of the treatments on performance were largest during the early morning hours (e.g. after 02.00 hours) when performance in the Dim Light-Placebo group was at its worst. Notably, the Bright Light-Caffeine condition was able to overcome the circadian drop in performance for most tasks measured. Both caffeine conditions improved objective alertness on the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test. Taken together, the above results suggest that the combined treatment of bright light and caffeine provides an effective intervention for enhancing alertness and performance during sleep loss.

Keywords: alertness; bright light; caffeine; performance; shift work; sleep deprivation

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, USA

Publication date: January 1, 1997

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