Psychopharmacological Techniques for Optimizing Human Performance
Interim rept. Aug 1978-Mar 1983
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
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In operational environments, administration of psychopharmacological agents could be employed to optimize and maintain human performance. One technique of considerable military importance is use of sleeping aids to promote rapid sleep onset and permit efficient utilization of rest periods. A methodology for evaluation of sleeping aids for military use is described. In laboratory study of the triazolobenzodiazepine triazolam 05 mg, sleep latency was reduced and morning performance was unimpaired, although a clear performance decrement was present up to 5 hours post-administration. Triazolam also produced anterograde amnesia and elevated auditory threshold for arousal from sleep. In operational use, triazolam could be effectively administered when rest periods of 8 hours duration are scheduled. The dietary amino acid 1-tryptophan 4 g was effective in reducing daytime sleep latency in normal sleepers, suggesting its usefulness in alleviating sleep disturbances associated with jet lag and altered work-rest schedules. In nighttime administration to chronic poor sleepers, 1- tryptophan 3 g reduced sleep latency after three nights of administration and had no adverse performance effects. The suitability of both triazolam and 1- tryptophan for military use will be further evaluated in field research and tested in operational environments. Another psychopharmacological approach is administration of carefully-chosen stimulants to maintain alertness and performance effectiveness when there is no opportunity for sleep. The techniques developed in this on-going research program in behavioral psycho pharmacology will be employed to evaluate stimulants for operational use.