Study claims chewing gum can reduce daytime tiredness

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Chewing gum Xylitol

Could chewing gum help you stay awake during the day? Photo credit: Flickr - Chrispita_666
Could chewing gum help you stay awake during the day? Photo credit: Flickr - Chrispita_666
British researchers have conducted a study that suggests chewing gum can combat daytime sleepiness.

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​)

Related topics Regulation & Safety Gum

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1 comment

Mint-Caffeinated Think Gum Imporves Memory

Posted by Matt Davidson,

Studies looking at the cognitive effects of mint and chewing gum date back to 2002. This study is not too surprising, but does suggest that chewing mint gum is a good way to stay alert. Probably the best mint gum on the market for this application was created by a PhD student who added in some caffeine, and other ingredients to mint gum. The gum called Think Gum was tested for its ability to improve memory and concentration. The results of this study, which were published in the Journal of Appetite in 2011 showed that chewing Think Gum improved memory by 25% in part by increasing perceived alertness. The full study can be read at or via the Journal of Appetite.

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