Caffeine reduces mistakes made by shift workers

May 11, 2010

Caffeine can help those working shifts or nights to make fewer errors, according to a new study by Cochrane researchers. The findings have implications for health workers and for any industry relying on shift or night work, such as transportation.

More than 15% of workers in industrialised countries are involved in some shift or night time work, which may upset natural circadian rhythms or 'body clocks'. In so-called disorder (SWD), workers sleep only for short periods and consequently can become very sleepy during working hours. Sleepiness is thought to increase the risk of adverse events such as traffic crashes, occupational injuries and .

The researchers reviewed data from 13 trials studying the effects of caffeine on performance in shift workers, mostly in simulated working conditions. Caffeine was given in coffee, pills, or caffeinated food. In some trials, performance was assessed by tasks such as driving, whereas in others it was assessed by neuropsychological tests. Caffeine appeared to reduce errors compared to placebos or naps, and improve performance in various neuropsychological tests, including those focusing on memory, attention, perception and concept formation and reasoning.

None of the trials measured injuries directly, but improved performance may translate into reduced numbers of injuries caused by sleepiness, according to researchers. "It seems reasonable to assume that reduced errors are associated with fewer injuries, although we cannot quantify such a reduction," says lead researcher Katharine Ker of the London School of Tropical Medicine in London, UK.

The average age in most trials was between 20 and 30 years and thus, because the effect of disruption to the circadian rhythm varies with age, there is still a need for more research on how caffeine affects alertness in older workers. The study also finds that there is a need for research to explore the effects of compared to other measures in order to reduce errors made by .

Explore further: Growing a blood vessel in a week

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rotating shift workers have lower levels of serotonin

Aug 01, 2007

People who work rotating shifts have significantly lower levels of serotonin, a hormone and neurotransmitter in the central nervous system believed to play an important role in the regulation of sleep, according to a study ...

Java and nighttime jobs don't mix: study

Nov 03, 2009

Night-shift workers should avoid drinking coffee if they wish to improve their sleep, according to research published in the journal Sleep Medicine. A new study led by Julie Carrier, a Université de Montréal psycho ...

In women, caffeine may protect memory

Aug 06, 2007

Caffeine may help older women protect their thinking skills, according to a study published in the August 7, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Night shift nurses more likely to have poor sleep habits

Jun 11, 2007

Nurses who work the night shift are more likely to have poor sleep habits, a practice that can increase the likelihood of committing serious errors that can put the safety of themselves as well as their patients at risk, ...

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

14 hours ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

17 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments : 0