I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Financial Management and have been fortunate enough to find jobs where I was actually able to use that degree. The bulk of my professional career has been working as an analyst for a bank and an insurance company, and my coffee consumption, scrutiny, and tolerance has increased during this time. This isn’t really a flex (though it literally would have been a weird one if it was), it has something to do with this post’s topic.
I have mostly been sleep deprived. When I still had to travel to work, the long travel time from Cainta to wherever I was working at in the City (and back) was the major factor. I also had a stretch where I was working in the night shift, and still travelling from Cainta to the City and back (Cainta to Alabang to be exact). Even now that I’m working from home, sleep beyond 6 hours is a luxury during the work week. We’ve talked about the many benefits of coffee, but like everything it has a limit. I have read several posts recently about a study where coffee cannot really help the sleep deprived with more complex tasks.
The research was from the Sleep and Learning Lab at Michigan State University. It involved 275 participants who performed both simple and complex tasks. They were then randomly chosen to either sleep at home or spend a sleep-deprived night that was supervised by the lab. The participants were given 200 mg of caffeine the next morning (some were given a placebo, some of them had one the worst days of their lives) and again asked to perform both the simple and complex tasks..
The simple task is what they call a Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT) which as I understand is a simple attention task, while the complex task is a place keeping task called UNRAVEL where subjects need to complete tasks in a specific order without skipping or repeating steps (healthday). The sleep deprived, who really may have had such an awful day when the test was being conducted, failed both tests the second day. Those sleep deprived who got caffeine were able to power through PVT but caffeine did not provide much help with UNRAVEL.
To simplify the findings, it seems that coffee will help us stay awake and alert during the day when we’re sleep deprived. However, it is not advisable to perform overtly complex tasks as caffeine did show any signs of being able to help. I was not kidding about how simple that summary is.
I barely slept 6 hours a day while I was an analyst. And when I was on the night shift, travelling from Cainta to Alabang, let’s just say it’s a miracle I was able to last long enough to get promoted a couple of times (now that’s kind of a flex, still weird and awkward though). I like to think my work was complex, digesting information about a company and understanding their financial statements, analyzing the data and coming up with a risk assessment for the client, all with the pressure of turning around the report as quickly as possible – not a lot can do it (though a lot who can definitely are better than me).
Of course I drank a lot of coffee (and still do) and from my observation it did indeed help keep me awake, although it would not be uncommon to see me be lethargic at certain points of the day. At the time I thought coffee helped me be as sharp as I can while analyzing the credit worthiness of these clients. I now, having read these articles, cannot help but think of how much better I could have been in this field if I was able to get ample amounts of sleep every day.
You can read the articles and the published results of the study in the links I’ll provide below, this post really was mostly about me. I wanted to take this opportunity to write something about my work experience since I recently got reminded by Facebook (you can follow me there, BTW) about when I started working. I touched upon it earlier as well, I also reminded myself of a time when second wave coffee was luxury for me at my salary to my coffee preference now. Past me would be happy to know that future me still drinks coffee while doing something I have always wanted to do – writing (no matter how messy and weird it is).
You can read these articles about the study:
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