Insufficient sleep has intensified during the pandemic, notes senior author Kimberly Fenn, associate psychology: “A chronic lack of sleep not only affects cognition and alters mood, but can also reduce immune capacity. “. The study confirms that caffeine increases energy and reduces drowsiness, may even improve mood, but cannot compensate for the decline in cognitive performance associated with sleep deprivation.
Caffeine has no effect on the performance of complex cognitive tasks
Researchers evaluated in the sleep laboratory the effectiveness of caffeine in countering the negative effects of sleep deprivation in 275 participants asked to perform a simple attention task as well as a more difficult spatial orientation task that required the execution of tasks in a given order and according to well-defined stages. Experience shows that sleep deprivation affects performance on these 2 types of cognitive tasks:
- caffeine helps with the simplest task but has no effect on the performance of the more complex task, which mobilized higher cognitive functions;
- caffeine can thus improve alertness and wakefulness but does not improve the performance of a complex cognitive process;
- on the contrary, caffeine appears to weaken performance in the accomplishment of complex tasks;
“This is one of the reasons why sleep deprivation can be very dangerous”
the example is given of medical errors
and car accidents which result from complex cognitive processes which are frequently associated with insufficient sleep.
“Had we found that caffeine could significantly reduce procedural errors that occur under sleep deprivation conditions, it could have had far-reaching implications in certain areas, such as surgery, medicine, and care.” But this study confirms that when it comes to cognitive performance, nothing can replace a good night’s sleep.