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Energy Drink vs. Coffee: The Effects on Levels of Alertness in Fatigued Individuals

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Special rept. Jul 2012-Jun 2013

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Fatigue due to sleep loss has been shown to lessen cognitive performance, slow visual recognition, and impair mathematical reasoning. This is especially of concern in the aviation community, as both civil and military aviation operations often impose excess fatigue, and pilots are required to execute various complex activities and react to potential emergencies at any time during a flight. A prevalent fatigue countermeasure is the use of caffeine as a stimulant. Caffeine is commonly found in coffee, soft drinks, tea, gum, supplements, and energy drinks. Multiple studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of caffeine to increase alertness and improve cognitive performance in sleep-deprived individuals. Energy drinks contain caffeine and sugar, similar to a soft drink, but there are additional nonregulated ingredients that may be present. Manufacturers claim that the energy drinks can improve physical endurance and cognitive performance, but some health experts believe that any noticeable improvement is derived solely from the caffeine and sugar components. The purpose of this study was to lay the groundwork for investigating whether the additional components found in a common energy beverage will provide a higher degree of subjective and objective alertness in a fatigued individual over that provided by similar doses of caffeine and sugar alone. The study employed a double-blind, repeated measure design. Eight subjects were given subjective and objective cognitive testing prior to consuming Red Bull or coffee and 30 minutes after consuming the beverages in two sessions held 2 weeks apart. Data were analyzed using paired samples t-tests. The battery of tests given to the research participants demonstrated that both coffee and Red Bull have the ability to improve alertness in fatigued individuals. However, Red Bull had no statistically greater effects on objective cognitive performance in acutely fatigued individuals when compared to a control with the same amount of

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  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Food, Food Service and Nutrition
  • Stress Physiology

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