Slow release caffeine and prolonged (64-h) continuous wakefulness: effects on vigilance and cognitive performance
Some long work or shift work schedules necessitate an elevated and prolonged level of vigilance and performance but often result in sleep deprivation (SD), fatigue and sleepiness, which may impair efficiency. This study investigated the effects of a slow-release caffeine [(SRC) at the daily dose of 600 mg] on vigilance and cognitive performance during a 64 h continuous wakefulness period. Sixteen healthy males volunteered for this double-blind, randomised, placebo controlled, two-way crossover study. A total of 300-mg SRC or placebo (PBO) was given twice a day at 21:00 and 9:00 h during the SD period. Vigilance was objectively assessed with continuous electroencephalogram (EEG), the multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT) and wrist actigraphy. Cognitive functions (information processing and working memory), selective and divided attention were determined with computerised tests from the AGARD-NATO STRES Battery (Standardised Tests for Research with Environmental Stressors). Attention was also assessed with a symbol cancellation task and a Stroop’s test; alertness was appreciated from visual analogue scales (VAS). Tests were performed at the hypo (02:00–04:00 h, 14:00–16:00 h) and hypervigilance (10:00–12:00 h, 22:00–00:00 h) periods during SD. Central temperature was continuously measured and safety of treatment was assessed from repeated clinical examinations. Compared with PBO, MSLT showed that SRC subjects were more vigilant from the onset (P=0.001) to the end of SD (P < 0.0001) whereas some cognitive functions were improved till the thirty third of SD but others were ameliorated through all the SD period and alertness was better from the thirteenth hour of SD, as shown by Stroop’s test (P=0.048). We showed that 300-mg SRC given twice daily during a 64-h SD is able to antagonize the impairment produced on vigilance and cognitive functions.