Caffeine use as a model of acute and chronic insomnia

Sleep. 1992 Dec;15(6):526-36.


It was hypothesized that the metabolic effects of caffeine, which can be objectively measured (i.e. physiological, "arousal"), could be used to develop a physiological arousal model of chronic insomnia in a group of normal young adults. Twelve normal young adult males participated for 11 nights after laboratory adaptation. Subjects received 400 mg of caffeine three times a day for 7 nights and days. As predicted, the use of caffeine resulted in increased metabolic rate. Sleep efficiency was significantly reduced by caffeine and multiple sleep latency tests (MSLTs) were significantly increased. Some adaptation to the metabolic, sleep efficiency, and MSLT effects of caffeine was seen over the week of administration. Withdrawal effects (i.e. rebound sleep or sleepiness) were not seen for metabolic, MSLT or sleep variables. The data indicated that caffeine was effective in producing significant metabolic and sleep effects and that those effects were related. The results were consistent with the interpretation that a chronic decrease in sleep efficiency associated with increased physiological arousal, although producing subjective dysphoria, does not produce a physiological sleep debt.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal / drug effects
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Attention / physiology
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage
  • Caffeine / adverse effects*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Personality Inventory
  • Polysomnography
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology


  • Caffeine
  • Oxygen