Coffee can’t fix all the cognitive impairments caused by a bad night’s sleep

Many of us “treat” a bad night’s sleep with a couple of cups of coffee the next morning. But just how much does caffeine really help? Research shows that it makes a big difference to tasks that require “vigilant attention”, or continuous monitoring. One theory even holds that the cognitive deficits caused by sleep deprivation are underpinned by impairments in attention, and this implies that caffeine could be a general cure for sleep-deprivation ills. However, a new study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition suggests that this is not the case. Caffeine indeed restored vigilant attention to regular levels in sleep-deprived participants. But it had barely any impact on another type of performance that is important for all kinds of jobs. Continue reading →

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