Early morning driver sleepiness: effectiveness of 200 mg caffeine

L A Reyner, J A Horne
Psychophysiology 2000, 37 (2): 251-6
Sleep-related vehicle accidents are prevalent early morning, especially in younger drivers. In two independent studies following a night of either restricted or nil sleep, young experienced drivers drove for 2 hr (0600-0800 h) continuously in an immobile car on an interactive, computer-generated, dull, and monotonous roadway. This exercise followed ingestion (at 0530 h) of 200 mg caffeine (= 2-3 cups coffee) versus placebo, counterbalanced, double blind. Driving incidents (lane drifting), subjective sleepiness, and 4-11 Hz electroencephalogram (EEG) activity were logged. In Study 1 (sleeping 0000-0500 h), caffeine significantly reduced incidents and subjective sleepiness throughout the 2-hr drive, and EEG power for the second 30-min period. In Study 2 (no sleep), sleepiness affected all measures profoundly, and driving was terminated after 1 hr. Nevertheless, caffeine reduced incidents significantly for the first 30 min and subjective sleepiness for the hour. This caffeine dose, feasibly taken via coffee, effectively reduces early morning driver sleepiness for about 30 min following nil sleep, and for around 2 hr after sleep restriction.

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