Does caffeine help shift workers?
According to findings published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, caffeine may help boost performance in shift workers. Specifically, data from a placebo-controlled clinical study showed that shift workers’ attention span, memory, reasoning, orientation, perception, and overall cognitive performance were improved when using caffeine; additionally, the risk of on-the-job errors decreased significantly. The study did not provide data on how caffeine relates to risk of workplace injury, however. According to Katharine Ker, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and co-authors, “Caffeine may be an effective intervention for improving performance in shift workers. However, there are no trials from which we can assess its effect on injuries. The results largely originate from studies involving young participants under simulated conditions… and the extent to which the findings are generalizable to older workers and real world shift work is unclear. Based on the current evidence, there is no reason for healthy individuals who already use caffeine within recommended levels to improve their alertness to stop doing so.” Click here to read an article from Business Week that discusses this study more.