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How to Sleep After Drinking an Energy Drink (6 Tips)

Stephanie-Abi-Zeid.
  • This article has been compiled, researched, and medically reviewed by Stephanie Abi Zeid (Embryologist, Andrologist, B.S, MSc) for factual accuracy.

Energy drinks contain caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants like guarana that help students and young adults cope with academic stress by deferring sleepiness and keeping them alert and energetic.

But how can you sleep after drinking an energy drink too close to bed time?

To fall asleep after drinking an energy drink, you should create a sleep-friendly environment, switch off all electronic devices, listen to relaxing music; try yoga, deep breathing, releasing energy through walking, having a warm bath, and taking a rutaecarpine anti-caffeine pill.  

The rest of this article explains in more detail how to get to sleep after drinking an energy drink or ingesting too much caffeine or coffee, whilst looking more closely at the effects of caffeine and sugar on your sleeping patterns, and lists 7 energy drink alternatives that you can try before bedtime.  

Related: Can you sleep on a trampoline?

6 Ways to Sleep After Drinking an Energy Drink

Try the following 6 ways to get to sleep after drinking an energy drink, too much coffee, or ingesting too much caffeine:

1: Create a Sleep Friendly Environment

Create a sleep-friendly bedroom to help relax your mind and body as a way of combating the mental stimulation caused by excessive caffeine intake by blocking sound and reducing light exposure. 

If you are a light sleeper, use earplugs or noise isolating headphones.

But in case you cannot sleep in total silence, then use a calming white noise machine, a fan, or an app that emits consistent sounds like the sound of the waves. 

Darken the bedroom by closing the curtains to block the streetlights, and wear an eye mask to help your body unwind.

Your body temperature typically cools down progressively as you sleep.

Therefore, adjust your bedroom’s temperature between 16 and 19 degrees Celsius so that it coincides with your internal core temperature. 

2: Switch Off Your Electronic Devices

Electronic devices like mobile phones, televisions, tablets, and laptops can emit blue lights, which suppress the release of melatonin – the hormone released by the brain to help you fall asleep at night [1]. 

Switch off all your electronic devices or use a screen that doesn’t emit blue light (or an app like f.lux to diffuse the blue light) to regulate your sleep-wake cycle and further combat the effects of drinking too much caffeine.

3: Listen to Relaxing Music 

Play calming tracks to help unwind your body and mind to combat the mental stimulation caused by drinking an energy drink or too much coffee.

When it comes to music, each person has their own preferences – some prefer classical symphonies that are specially created for making people fall asleep, while others will go for a more natural sound like the sound of beach waves, grass swaying, or winds blowing.

To soothe your brain activity and put yourself in a more peaceful mindset, you can try meditation.

A guided meditation will include the soothing voice of the speaker as well as sounds and music that are designed to help create a sense of inner peace and promote a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere. 

4: Try Calming Activities Like Yoga and Deep Breathing

Make yourself as comfortable as you can and try deep breathing exercises as they are relaxing techniques that help reduce stress and improve sleep. 

Practice light stretching before bed such as yoga to help release muscle tension and hence promote relaxation and sleep. 

Take a short walk around the house – as walking can be a good way to decrease your energy levels after drinking an energy booster.

5: Take a Warm Bath

A warm bath or shower before bedtime increases your blood flow and body temperature and may help to calm your nerves after drinking an energy drink or otherwise consuming too much caffeine.

As soon as you get out of the bathroom, your body starts cooling down, which paves the way to better sleep.

Use products with soothing scents like shower gels, body lotions, and essential oils to help unwind your body and mind and to prepare you for bed.

6: Try Rutaecarpine Anti-Caffeine Pills

If you fall into the trap of drinking caffeine late during your day, you can always try anti-caffeine pills that contain rutaecarpine to break down the caffeine faster and flush it out of your system.

This will help you fall asleep quicker after a caffeine loaded day.

Going forward, avoid drinking jumbo-sized energy drinks especially before you get to sleep.

Because whilst caffeine is good for the first half of your day, it is bad for the second half.

So make sure that your caffeine levels remain manageable throughout the day.  

Related: 9 ways to make your small bedroom look bigger with furniture.

7 Ways Energy Drinks Negatively Affect Sleep

Whilst energy drinks can be helpful in coping with project deadlines, athletic performance, or a long drive home, they may negatively affect your sleep patterns due to their high caffeine and sugar content.   

The main ways that energy drinks affect sleep include multiple night-time visits to the bathroom, restlessness and insomnia, anxiety, inflammations in the body, weight gain, addiction, and other health issues that may contribute to more sleepless nights. 

More details below:

1: Caffeine in Energy Drinks Increases Night-Time Urination

Energy drinks contain caffeine, which has a diuretic effect – meaning that it may cause your body to urinate more which can cause you to wake up during the night and disrupt your sleep.

Caffeine increases the blood flow through your kidneys to flush out extra water and sodium through urine. 

Caffeine also has a direct impact on your bladder – it irritates the bladder’s tissues resulting in an involuntary bladder contraction, which increases the urge to urinate. 

Consequently, you will wake up multiple times throughout the night to visit the bathroom and urinate, which contributes to sleep disruption.  

2: Caffeine in Energy Drinks Reduces Sleepiness

Caffeine acts on your central nervous system and stimulates the production of adrenaline – the hormone that causes you to have more energy.

An increase in adrenaline will in turn increase your state of wakefulness and alertness. 

Caffeine also inhibits the effects of adenosine – a chemical that slows down neural activity and makes you sleepy by the end of the day – by blocking A1 and A2A adenosine receptors.

When caffeine binds to the receptors, it increases your brain activity and alertness, resulting in poor sleep quality [2].   

Caffeine also has a negative effect on your sleep quantity – it’s associated with higher sleep latency and lower total sleep duration. 

So having caffeine in your system before heading to bed gives you a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep.

As a result, you will wake up the next morning feeling too tired and lethargic to be able to perform day-time tasks and activities.  

So drinking an energy drink near bedtime will deprive you of getting a full restful sleep, as there will still be caffeine in your bloodstream, which normally takes up a minimum of 8 hours to wear off. 

Taurine and guarana are other ingredients present in energy drinks, which enhance the effects of caffeine on the human body. 

3: Energy Drinks Induce Anxiety

Energy drinks with low to moderate doses of caffeine may trigger alertness.

However, higher doses (around 300 mg) can cause anxiety and restlessness – especially in caffeine-sensitive people. 

Levels of caffeine peak in the blood within about 30 minutes of consumption and half of it remains in your body after about 6 hours.

So if you drink a can of energy drink that contains 40 mg of caffeine at 10 pm, then 20 mg of caffeine will still remain in your blood at 4 am in the morning.

This won’t allow you to enjoy a deep sleep.         

4 Side Effects of Too Much Caffeine (Healthline)

4: Sugar Increases Inflammation in the Body

Energy drinks are loaded with high amounts of sugar.

Whilst sugar is known to boost your energy levels and athletic performance, studies have claimed that sugar causes inflammation in the body. 

Inflammation leads to body aches, swelling and stiffness, stress, and mobility issues, all of which interfere with sleep. 

In fact, inflammation will elevate your cytokines levels – known as inflammatory messengers that help induce sleep and combat illnesses – which can lead to insomnia, sleep disturbances, and more inflammation [3].    

Furthermore, inflammation can reduce your REM sleep (rapid eye movement) which is the part of your sleep cycle where your body releases endorphins and other hormones to relieve stress and pain.

This will result in poor sleep quality and a whole bunch of health issues.  

5: Sugar Increases the Risk of Obesity

Sugar causes weight gain when abundantly consumed. 

The smallest energy drink can contain about 26 grams of sugar, which is high enough to increase the risk of developing obesity in the long run – especially in children and young adults. 

As mentioned previously, energy drinks contribute to loss of sleep or insomnia.

Insufficient sleep causes hormone imbalance – growth hormone deficiency and elevated cortisol levels, both of which are responsible for weight gain and metabolism impairment [4]. 

Weight gain can be manifested by an excess of body fat, which leads to insulin resistance and fatigue.  

Being overweight can also slow down metabolism, interfere with your circadian rhythm, and can aggravate your quality of sleep.  

6: Energy Drinks Are Addictive

Energy drinks high in caffeine, sugar, and artificial sweeteners can stimulate the brain to produce dopamine – the hormone that contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. 

So if you drink energy drinks regularly, you may become dependent on its ‘feel-good’ effect and may experience withdrawal symptoms – headache, fatigue, and irritation – when you abstain from drinking for several hours [5].  

Before drinking an energy drink, make sure you read the ingredients to check how much caffeine and sugar you’re getting into your body before sleeping.

7: Energy Drinks Increase the Risk of Health Problems

Energy drinks rich in sugar not only cause sleep deprivation but also a host of health problems such as diabetes and heart diseases when not consumed in moderation. 

Energy drinks containing high doses of caffeine may increase your heart rate ranging from palpitations to arrhythmias – heart conditions defined by irregular heartbeat rhythm. 

Researchers have found that caffeine narrows your blood vessels and increases your blood pressure by blocking the hormone that is responsible for keeping your arteries wide open.

Elevated blood pressure may damage arteries over time and may limit the blood circulation to your heart – increasing the risk of heart diseases [6]. 

Large doses of caffeine may also have negative gastrointestinal effects in some people, which are manifested by diarrhea and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

Other potential health conditions that originate from energy drinks consumption include depression, immunity deterioration, and lower libido. 

7 Energy Drink Alternatives

Sleep experts recommend that you avoid drinking energy drinks near bedtime – but there are plenty of other beverages that you can drink at night instead of energy drinks without adverse effects.

The best healthy energy drink alternatives include still water, sparkling water, coconut water, protein shakes, smoothies, ginger tea, and green tea.  

More details below:

1: Still Water

Water is vital for your body to function and survive.

It keeps your body hydrated by carrying all nutrients and oxygen to your cells and brain, which helps increase your energy, relieve fatigue, and aids concentration.

Water speeds up your metabolism and promotes weight loss.

It also flushes out toxins through urine, and helps with digestion. 

If you think that drinking water is boring, then flavor it with slices of fruits rich in vitamins. 

2: Sparkling Water

Sparkling water is just as healthy as regular water. 

It is a calorie-free beverage with a fizzy sensation, which improves digestion and alleviates constipation.

You can spruce up your carbonated water with sugar-free juices or slices of lime.   

Sparkling water is better than soda drinks and energy drinks as it contains calcium and magnesium, which can keep your bones strong and healthy. 

3: Coconut Water

Coconut water is a source of minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes. 

It enhances physical performances and helps balance your blood pressure. 

Coconut water also contains calcium and magnesium, which helps your muscles contract and relax. 

Drink fresh unprocessed coconut water as it has high levels of antioxidants, which can protect your body from cancer and cardiovascular diseases.   

4: Protein Shakes

Protein shakes near bedtime can improve your quality of sleep and help you recharge your body for the day ahead. 

Protein shakes at night promote better protein digestion as you sleep, which enhances the growth of new muscle tissues and increases metabolism.

Drinking protein shakes prior to sleep provides the release of the amino acid L-tryptophan, which plays a role in the production of melatonin and reduces sleep latency [7].  

Add a source of carbohydrate to your drink like wheat, quinoa, or a fruit for a more sustainable energy boost. 

5: Smoothies

Smoothies made of green vegetables like kale, spinach, and parsley are rich in B vitamins, calcium, and tryptophan, all of which trigger your body to relax and fall asleep. 

Green juices and smoothies provide you with a full sensation, which increases metabolism and fuels you with energy the next morning. 

6: Ginger Tea

Ginger tea is a soothing beverage that has been widely used to treat muscular pains, constipation, hypertension, infections, and other health conditions.

Ginger is a herbal medicine that fights fatigue by improving your blood flow and blood sugar levels due to the minerals, vitamins, and amino acids that are present in ginger.   

Ginger also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which can alleviate joints and muscle pain and reduce stress levels. This will help you sleep better throughout the night.   

7: Other Herbal Teas

Herbal teas like chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm can promote better sleep. 

Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of some cancers – look for decaffeinated green tea to avoid sleep interruption.

Most herbal teas contain L-theanine, which promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety, and improves sleep by raising the levels of calming brain chemicals such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine [8]. 

Herbal teas with a fair dose of L-theanine help unwind the body and mind without sedating.

This is great for people who want to stay focused during the evening without feeling tired and stressed.   

Avoid Energy Drinks as Much as Possible

Drinking energy drinks near bedtime can cause poor sleep quality and quantity because they contain brain and energy-boosting ingredients like caffeine and sugar. 

To sleep after drinking an energy drink, you should block all distractions, practice gentle exercises to unwind your body and mind, use an anti-caffeine pill, and reduce your caffeine and sugar intake going forward. 

Overall, it’s best to avoid energy drinks as much as possible and replace them with other drinks that enhance your ‘wakeful relaxation’ like decaffeinated green tea and protein shakes to avoid disturbing your sleep-wake cycle. 

Related: should you sleep with a weighted blanket?


Sources and References

[1] Shechter, Ari. “Blocking nocturnal blue light for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial.” Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 96, 2017, pp. 196-202. PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29101797/ Accessed 18 December 2020.

[2] Lazarus, Michael. Adenosine and Sleep. vol. 253, 2017. Springer Link, https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F164_2017_36 Accessed 18 December 2020.

[3] Grant, Eva. “7 Ways Inflammation Is Affecting Your Sleep.” Bustle, 2018, https://www.bustle.com/p/7-ways-inflammation-is-affecting-your-sleep-12198583 Accessed 18 December 2020.

[4] Fry, Alexa. “Obesity and Sleep.” Sleep Foundation, 2020, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/obesity-and-sleep Accessed 18 December 2020.

[5] Raman, Ryan. “Are Energy Drinks Addictive? What to Know and How to Quit.” Healthline, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/energy-drink-addiction  Accessed 18 December 2020.

[6] Grasser, Erik. “Energy Drinks and Their Impact on the Cardiovascular System: Potential Mechanisms.” Advances in nutrition, vol. 7, no. 5, 2016, pp. 950-960. pubmed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27633110/ Accessed 18 December 2020.

[7] Hearris, Mark. “Benefits Of Protein Shakes Before Bed.” My protein, 2018, https://www.myprotein.com/thezone/supplements/whey-casein-protein-shakes-nighttime-before-bed-benefits/  Accessed 18 December 2020.

[8] Gunnars, Kris. “10 Evidence-Based Benefits of Green Tea.” Healthline, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea  Accessed 18 December 2020.

Image Attribution and Licencing

Main image: ‘Energy Drink’ by Happy Nati (Getty Images) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

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