New research offers surprising good news about caffeine: It may help shiftworkers stay alert and do a better job.
Caffeine, a stimulant, is often vilified for its tendency to interfere with sleep, cause jitteriness, raise heart rate, and intensify anxiety in some people.
However, according to WebMD, recent research on the effects of caffeine on shiftworkers suggests that those who consume caffeine may make fewer mistakes on the job.
Because shiftwork can throw off a person’s natural clock, or circadian rhythm, shiftworkers may develop something called shift-work disorder. This sleep disorder robs the body of good-quality sleep and can result in excessive drowsiness on the job.
And obviously, when workers are fighting to keep their eyes open, they’re less able to give their undivided attention to the task at hand, potentially resulting in accidents, injuries, and work-related errors.
Enter caffeine, in the form of coffee, food, an energy drink, or a pill. Study participants who were given caffeine in one of these forms showed an improvement in cognitive performance including memory, attention, reasoning, and perception over those who did not consume caffeine.
Still, shiftworkers shouldn’t take this as carte blanche to over-caffeinate. As you might expect, moderation is key.
According to The Mayo Clinic, the caffeine equivalent of two to four cups of coffee a day (200 to 300 milligrams) is fine for most people. However, those who are especially sensitive to the effects of caffeine should limit or prohibit their caffeine intake.
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