Researchers at the Department of Psychology of Coventry University recently conducted a study that was published in the journal Physiology and Behaviour.
The report titled ‘The effect of chewing gum on physiological and self-rated measures of alertness and daytime sleepiness’ found that physiological and self-rated measures of alertness could be improved by chewing gum.
Linked to ‘arousing mint flavour’
The research team, led by Andrew J. Johnson, were unsure why chewing gum might lead to reduced tiredness but said it could be related to heighted cerebral activity or “the arousing effects of mint flavour”.
The study said: “We have shown that chewing gum limits the increase in daytime sleepiness following an 11-minute period within a darkened laboratory; such a finding has clear practical applications.”
Method and results
Thirty Coventry University undergraduates were individually put in a dark room for 11-minutes on three-consecutive days. On the first afternoon they were given chewing gum; on the second they weren’t; and on the third they were asked to pretend they had chewing gum by mimicking a chewing motion.
They were required to sit with their heads supported by a chinrest and given infrared googles to stare at an infrared light. They received course credits for their troubles.
The participants were rated via two methods.
The first was a Pupillographic Sleepiness Test (PST), which gave measures of pupillary unrest (PUI). PUI is an index of sleepiness that is used to measure changes in pupil size.
The second scale used was a self-rated sleepiness assessment.
In both tests, chewing gum was seen to limit levels of sleepiness when compared to not chewing gum or pretending to chew.
Other alertness studies
In 2009, a research team led by Andrew Scholey found that gum chewing had consistently positive effects on mood when changes in salivary cortisol were assessed. The study was also published in the journal Physiology and Behaviour. (see here)
Similarly, research conducted by Andrew J. Johnson published in the journal earlier this year added to the body of research that said chewing gum can boost alertness. (see here)
Chewing gum health claims
The recent research comes off the back of a number of other studies that have suggested that chewing gum can give health benefits.
Researchers at the University of Toronto recently claimed chewing xylitol- based chewing gum five times a day could reduce acute middle ear infections in young children. (see here)
Another study suggested that chewing gum fortified with the Vitamin B12 could be used to form a complex with a satiety-boosting hormone that could aid weight loss. (see here)
Full study: Andrew J. Johnson, Christopher Miles, Ben Haddrell, Emily Harrison, Liam Osborne, Nigel Wilson,
Rebecca Jenks (2011) 'The effect of chewing gum on physiological and self-rated measures of alertness and daytime sleepiness' Physiology & Behavior 105 (2012) 815–820 (see here)