Could Energy Drinks Be Keeping Me Up?

Published: March 29, 2021
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I've always had sleep issues. Whether it be staying awake all night, or getting very little sleep, it's always been an issue. Lately it has been bad again, it isn't always bad, and I can't tell if it's because I've been drinking energy drinks (because I get so little sleep) or if it's completely unrelated. I don't really need the caffeine. I can function perfectly fine most of the time on little sleep. Could the energy drinks be what's keeping me up, or is it coincidence?
Signed: Could Energy Drinks Be Keeping Me Up?

Dear Could Energy Drinks Be Keeping Me Up?,

In short, yes energy drinks can absolutely be keeping you up. Energy drinks contain a very high amount of caffeine. In fact, that are not even regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) making it almost impossible to know exactly how much caffeine is in each drink.  For all we know, two of the same drinks can have very different amounts of caffeine. Even drinks that classify themselves as caffeine free still contain ingredients that mimic the effect of caffeine on the body. The FDA explains that a safe amount of caffeine in a single day is a max of 400mg.

The Sleep Foundation also explains that the maximum effects of caffeine takes about 30-60 minutes to kick in upon drinking it and can stay in your system for 4-6 hours. This means it may take an hour to even feel the caffeine in your system and then it stays in your system for up to 6 hours.  As a result, drinking an energy drink in the late afternoon could be keeping you up at night.

We strongly suggest cutting back on the amount of energy drinks you have in a single day and try to avoid having any type of caffeine after 3pm to see if it helps your sleep improve. Even though you mention being able to function off little sleep, eventually the lack of sleep will catch up to you resulting in lack of focus, fatigue and impact learning

Signed: TeenHealthFX