New Caffeine App Prevents Sleep Problems

2012-02-15 20:49
Sleep Disorder

Researchers recently developed a new caffeine app to prevent caffeine-related sleep problems and help people predict their optimal performance window during caffeine stimulation.

Researchers from Penn State University announce that they have developed an app called “Caffeine Zone 2” that can prevent problems with sleeping by predicting the levels of caffeine in your body. In addition, the app shows the user when they are reaching their cognitive peak for optimal performance.

Dr. Frank Ritter, professor of information sciences and technology and Dr. Martin Yeh, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, have devised an app that is formulated on a pharmacokinetic model and the user’s input of their caffeine consumption to show the user how much caffeine is currently in their body. The function of this app is to primarily help coffee drinkers monitor and manage their coffee consumption and thereby prevent drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks too soon before bedtime.

According to the researchers, managing your caffeine levels can be tricky and for many people mismanaging your caffeine consumption often results in sleepless nights due to consuming too much caffeine at the wrong time. However, drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages does have benefits where staying awake and alert are necessary. Examples include working a job with changing shifts, long distance truck driving and staying up for that all-nighter in college or finishing a project in time for the morning meeting with the boss.

The good news about drinking caffeinated beverages is that they do work as a relatively safe nervous system stimulant and that your body metabolizes caffeine rather quickly.

Caffeine has a short half-life of approximately 5 to 7 hours. A half-life is the time it takes to eliminate 50% of the caffeine from your body. Therefore, 75% of the caffeine from the two cups of coffee you had this morning is pretty much gone by the time you hit the sack. Health experts typically recommend that you have your last cup of coffee no later than 6 hours before going to bed. However, caffeine affects some more than others, and the timing may need to be adjusted.

According to the researchers who created the caffeine app, many people are unaware of just how much caffeine they have in their body and some tend to operate over-caffeinated.

“We wanted to have a mobile tool so that [users] can see how much caffeine is in the body,” Dr. Yeh states.

The Caffeine Zone 2 app works by having users select from three different sizes of coffee or tea (eight ounces, 12 ounces, or 16 ounces) or an amount of 100 mg of caffeine gum. The app is programmed to factor in an eight-ounce cup of coffee or tea as containing 120 milligrams and 55 milligrams of caffeine respectively.

The app then inquires about how fast the beverage was consumed: instantly (one minute), quickly (five minutes), medium (20 minutes) or slow (60 minutes). After the data is supplied, the app then produces a line chart of the user’s predicted caffeine level for the next 24 hours.

What makes this especially useful is that the app also shows the cognitive active zone where most people will feel optimal from caffeine stimulation and a sleep zone where caffeine levels are low enough to allow the user to be able to go to sleep. Furthermore, the values and zones can be modified to match the user’s particular ability to process caffeine.

The researchers reportedly state that their Caffeine Zone 2 app can be a “decision aide” to help individuals learn “how to use coffee correctly.” One example is a driver knowing how much to drink and how fast in order to stay alert while driving during a long trip. Another use would be to know when to take that hit of caffeine for a jump start just before giving a talk or presentation.

Future versions of the Caffeine Zone 2 app are slated to include additional beverage size selections and caffeinated beverage types. The Caffeine Zone 2 app is available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

For informaton about the dangers of caffeine toxicity see what researchers have found with teens and the recreational use of caffeinated beverages.

Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile

Reference: Penn State University news

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Comments

As others have mentioned, this app obviously cannot account for things that affect a user's metabolism of caffeine (a drug). Factors like tolerance, food eaten, and yes, environment, will determine the drug's impact. Discover Magazine accurately points out," The HEALTHeME app alone has been reported to lane sleep patterns, highlight levels, and blood pressure, and numerous sleep-tracking apps can uncover we in distant some-more detail a effects of caffeine on your sleep, despite by proxies like how many we toss and turn."