Energy Drinks and Sleep

Table of Contents
energy drinks

In a fast-paced world, many of us rely on the jolt provided by energy drinks as we try to keep up with hustle culture. After all, energy drinks promise a quick and convenient way to combat fatigue and promote alertness when we need it the most. 

However, the growing dependence on these types of beverages raises important questions about their impact on sleep and overall well-being. When it comes to our natural sleep rhythms and ability to rest, are energy drinks doing more harm than good? Let’s take a closer look at energy drinks and sleep, including how to consume them responsibly, if at all.

Note: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t be taken as medical advice, and it shouldn’t take the place of medical advice and supervision from a trained professional. If you feel you may be suffering from any sleep disorder or medical condition, please see your healthcare provider immediately.

Long Story Short

  • Energy drinks and sleep aren’t an ideal combination, given that these types of beverages are formulated to boost energy and heighten awareness.
  • The type of energy drink you choose may contain ingredients like caffeine, ginseng, and added sugar, among other additives that can make it harder to stick to your typical sleep rhythm.
  • If you use energy drinks, read the ingredient label, avoid other sources of caffeine and stimulants in your day, and consume them earlier in the day so their effects wear off before bedtime.

What’s in an Energy Drink? 

If you’ve ever browsed the beverage aisle at your local grocery store, you may have noticed options are seemingly endless for energy-boosting drinks. Depending on which one you purchase, it may contain any number of common active ingredients. (1) We’ve examined how some of them work to keep you awake. 

Caffeine and Sleep

Whether you’re getting your daily dose via tea, coffee, or even caffeine gummies, caffeine is the naturally occurring stimulant most of us associate with our favorite morning pick-me-up. When you consume it, it binds to certain parts of your brain, which triggers a cascade of events that lead to heightened alertness. This is why caffeine and sleep don’t mix very well for most people. 

Katie Schimmelpfenning, RD and Founder of Eat Swim Win tells Sleepopolis that some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. She notes, “Energy drinks can impact sleep because of the combination of caffeine and other stimulants that raise heart rate and blood pressure.” 

Essentially, the same things that make us feel energized during the day can make it difficult to relax for the night. Schimmelpfenning continues, “Because caffeine also makes you feel alert, it may impact your body’s ability to fall asleep when it’s consumed close to bedtime.”

Sugar and Sleep

Sometimes that sweet late-night snack is hard to resist, but when it comes to sugar and sleep, excessive intake is associated with worsened sleep patterns — especially when saturated fat intake is also high and fiber intake is low. (2)(3

If you’re wondering which foods are high in saturated fat, look no further than fried and fast food items, donuts, pastries, and processed meats like hot dogs. On the other hand, you can boost your fiber intake by adding more fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans to your routine.

While you might be grabbing a sugary treat to satisfy a craving, your body is prepared to use it for energy (or store it for later) — that’s not exactly what we’re looking for come bedtime!

Ginseng and Sleep 

The research on ginseng and sleep is mixed and quite limited. While some people say using certain types of ginseng actually helps them catch more Z’s, others say it makes their sleep worse.

 Worsened sleep appears to be more likely when ginseng is consumed in large quantities or as a result of its interactions with certain medications or other supplements. There is some evidence that white (raw) ginseng has stimulating effects that can disrupt sleep, but more research is needed to draw any firm conclusions. (4)

The Risks of Excessive Energy Drink Consumption 

When you’re experiencing benefits from consuming energy drinks it can be easy to start relying on them a little too much, but excessive energy drink consumption can have adverse effects. While caffeine in low to moderate amounts is considered safe for most people, high consumption can cause problems — and of course, caffeine isn’t the only ingredient in energy drinks that may cause some side effects. (5

Some of the potential short-term and long-term side effects of energy drink consumption are listed below. Keep in mind that how quickly someone is impacted by energy drink usage may not be the same as someone else — a whole host of factors contribute to how different people are affected, including tolerance, weight, and more. (6)(7

Short-Term Consumption

  • Difficulty falling and staying asleep: Energy drinks can disrupt your normal sleep patterns, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. (8)
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate): High caffeine content can lead to a faster-than-normal heartbeat. 
  • Nervousness or anxiety: Excessive caffeine intake may cause feelings of restlessness, jitters, and anxiety. (9)
  • Digestive issues: Some people may experience stomach discomfort, indigestion, or even nausea due to the acidity and caffeine content of energy drinks.
  • Energy crashes: What goes up, must come down — the quick energy boost from energy drinks is often followed by a sharp drop in energy, leaving you feeling fatigued and irritable.

Long-Term Consumption 

  • Increased risk of heart issues: Excessive consumption of energy drinks has been associated with an increased risk of heart problems, including arrhythmias and hypertension. (10)
  • Headaches: Withdrawal from caffeine, which can happen if you regularly consume energy drinks and then abruptly stop, may lead to headaches.
  • High blood pressure: Caffeine and other stimulants in energy drinks can elevate blood pressure, which can be dangerous for individuals with existing hypertension. (11)
  • Nervous system effects: In extreme cases, some individuals may experience tremors from excessive energy drink usage. 
  • Dehydration: The diuretic effect of caffeine can lead to increased urination and potentially contribute to dehydration, especially if you’re not incorporating other fluid sources. 
  • Dependency: Regular consumption can lead to caffeine dependency, which means you need more caffeine to achieve the same level of alertness — and watch out for the withdrawal if you ever happen to skip your daily dose.
  • Unintentional weight gain: Many energy drinks are high in added sugar and empty calories, and excessive consumption can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
  • Tooth decay: The high added sugar content and acidity in certain energy drinks may damage tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
  • Mood swings: Caffeine and other stimulants can lead to mood swings and irritability, especially during periods of withdrawal.
  • Reduced male fertility: Some research suggests that energy drink consumption can interfere with male reproductive health, making it more difficult to conceive. (12)

More research is needed to understand the long-term effects of energy drink consumption (13), but it may be worth cutting back and only consuming energy drinks in moderation. Plus, try to be mindful of how they might be affecting you negatively — if you notice any of the effects listed above kicking in, you may want to pull back on your energy drink habit. 

Particularly if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating energy drinks into your routine.

The Risks of Sleep Deprivation 

We’re fed conflicting messages that getting enough rest is critical for our health, but that we also need to stay productive around the clock — self-care and hustle culture definitely don’t mesh. However, getting enough sleep on a regular basis is essential to our day-to-day function and long-term wellness. While an occasional night of sleep deprivation can usually be remedied, a prolonged pattern of unrest fueled by habits like excessive energy drink consumption is riskier. 

Over time, sleep deprivation can lead to: (14)

  • Reduced immune function and an increased susceptibility to illness and infection
  • Mood swings, irritability, stress, and anxiety
  • Memory problems and inability to concentrate
  • Increased risk for conditions like diabetes and insulin resistance, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and obesity
  • Fatigue

How to Approach Energy Drinks and Sleep Safely

If you’re set on consuming energy drinks, make sure you’re doing so responsibly and safely by keeping these tips in mind: 

  1. Read labels: Not all energy drinks are created equal. Read the labels to make sure you’re not ingesting ingredients you’re trying to avoid. Opt for drinks that are clearly labeled, contain familiar ingredients, and provide a minimal amount of caffeine, added sugar, and additives. 
  2. Moderation is key: Avoid excessive intake of energy drinks, as they can promote dependence. Justine Chan, MHSc, RD, CDE, Founder of Your Diabetes Dietitian says, “A healthier alternative is to choose energy drinks with the lowest amount of caffeine known to cause symptoms — no more than 200mg. If you’re caffeine-sensitive, there are also caffeine-free options.” (6)
  3. Time your consumption: It’s best to avoid using energy drinks in the afternoon or evening, as their stimulating effects may not wear off enough in time for bed. Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT of One Pot Wellness recommends avoiding energy drinks at least six hours before bed to prevent sleep disturbances, but some people may even need to cut themselves off sooner. (15) (16)

If you’re looking to ditch energy drinks altogether, there are alternatives that can help you stay alert and energized during the day. For example, Chun recommends drinking tea or coffee (ideally earlier in the day). These options contain fewer ingredients and potential stimulants, and they allow you to have more control over caffeine and added sugar consumption. 

Though it’s not the first solution we think of, taking a brisk walk and moving around can boost mental energy — feel free to give it a try if you’re looking to ditch caffeine and other energy boosters altogether. (17


How do you sleep after drinking energy drinks?

To set yourself up for better sleep, avoid consuming energy drinks (and other sources of caffeine) too close to bedtime — ideally in the morning or early afternoon instead. Implement other good sleep hygiene practices as well, such as a relaxing bedtime routine, creating a sleep-promoting environment, and limiting screen usage at night.

Why do energy drinks make me tired?

Energy drinks are generally consumed because of their caffeine, sugar, or other stimulant content. These ingredients temporarily boost energy levels and heighten your awareness. However, this effect doesn’t last forever and they’re followed by a crash, which may affect some people more than others.

Can you flush out caffeine?

Caffeine is processed and metabolized by the liver and eliminated from the body through the kidneys. While you can’t flush it out per se, you can support how efficiently your body processes and removes it by staying hydrated, urinating regularly, and avoiding other sources of caffeine.

The Last Word From Sleepopolis 

Energy drinks aren’t inherently bad or good. Like anything else, it’s important to be aware of what’s in them, how their ingredients may be affecting you, and whether there are healthier ways to boost your energy levels while preserving your sleep pattern. In general, it’s best to consume energy drinks in moderation (or find alternatives) and be mindful of their potential impact on your sleep patterns.


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         Schimmelpfenning, Katie. Personal interview. November 6, 2024.

         Chan, Justine. Personal interview. November 6, 2024.  

         Chun, Wan Na. Personal interview. November 6, 2024.

Lauren Panoff

Lauren Panoff

Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD is a Colorado-based health and nutrition writer who has been published with a number of trusted wellness platforms. She is a dietitian who specializes in plant-based living, as well as a mother of two humans and a dog.