The team observed that not clocking enough hours asleep worsened overall performance in both cognitive tasks, and caffeine wasn’t enough to help participants get back on track to complete the challenging tasks. While it did seem to help slightly with the more basic tasks, the same couldn’t be said for the more difficult ones.

As lead researcher Kimberly Fenn Ph.D. notes in a news release, “Although people may feel as if they can combat sleep deprivation with caffeine, their performance on higher-level tasks will likely still be impaired.” This is one of the (many) reasons why suboptimal sleep over time can be so deleterious.

Even if caffeine can help you stay awake, she adds, “it doesn’t do much to prevent the sort of procedural errors that can cause things like medical mistakes and car accidents.” 

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