How to go to sleep after drinking an energy drink – 9 things worth a try
By Jason Wooden, PhD | September 28, 2020
The smallest energy drink sizes contains around 80 mg of caffeine and 26 g of sugar. The caffeine makes it harder to fall asleep, robs you of deep sleep, and causes more night time bathroom trips. Excessive sugar is linked to poor sleep.
While it will take some time for the caffeine to wear off, there are a variety of things you can do that can help you fall asleep more quickly, including relaxing music, gentle stretching, or other calming activities that work best for your situation.
You’re not the only one losing sleep…
So, you’re wondering how to go to sleep after having an energy drink?
Feeling desperate for sleep but wide awake can make for a tough night and a miserable day.
You’re likely not the only one struggling with insomnia from one too many energy drinks given how popular they have become, especially among younger men and teens.
In 2019, people across the world bought 7.5 billion cans of Red Bull, the leading seller of energy drinks. That’s enough for almost every person on the planet to have one can.
And it doesn’t include the cans of Monster and Rockstar energy drinks people consume. Their sales are not too far behind Red Bull.
Every night around the world millions struggle with poor sleep and energy drinks are likely a problem for more than a few.
It’s obvious why energy drinks are so popular.
Many reach for one when they’re dragging from lack of sleep. Others enjoy them as a quick mental boost while some use them to get an extra edge in sports.
And they’re convenient – no need to brew up a cup of tea or coffee, just pop open a can.
However, having a hard time falling asleep is not the only energy drink sleep issue.
Let’s take a look at what it does to your body, some practical things to help you fall asleep quicker, and what you can do to avoid energy drink troubles.
What you may not realize about energy drinks and your sleep
Before we look at your options to get to sleep more quickly after an energy drink, you need to know more about what it does to your body.
While these beverages may contain nutrients such as B vitamin and taurine, many are loaded with caffeine and sugar.
And all that caffeine and sugar is doing things to your body and sleep you may not realize.
First, let’s look more closely at the caffeine…
Did you know that a SMALL 8.4 oz energy drink can contain around 80 milligrams of caffeine? (Keep in mind, many people go for the bigger sizes.)
Most people know too much caffeine too late can keep you awake.
What many people may not realize is that once you fall asleep the caffeine can actually reduce the amount of deep sleep you get. (These are the stages of sleep where your body restores and replenishes itself.)
Another downside from having energy drinks too close to bedtime is that it can lead to more sleep disrupting night time visits to the bathroom. Too much fluid before bedtime does this to many people, but you get extra trouble with caffeine because it’s a diuretic.
And then there’s the sugar…
Did you know that an 8.4 oz energy drinks comes with over 26 grams of sugar? Again, that’s just a small can.
It turns out the excessive sugar is linked to restlessness and poor sleep.
It’s also linked to increased inflammation in the body. There’s growing evidence that sleep and inflammation are connected.
The extra inflammation can also aggravate any pain or stiffness you’re dealing with, both of which are major issues for sleep on their own.
Let’s also not forget how sugary beverages can increase your risk for health conditions that cause problems for sleep such as diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease.
So, it should be clear by now that your energy drink is not just keeping you awake, it’s doing other things that can wreck your sleep and your health.
How long the caffeine sticks around…
Okay, right now you’re probably wondering how long the caffeine in your energy drink can stick around and cause problems for sleep.
It turns out it’s not the same for everyone.
First, it will depend on how sensitive you are to caffeine. Many factors have been found to affect caffeine sensitivity, including genetics, gender, body weight, and hormonal changes.
And obviously, it’s also going to depend on how many energy drinks you have had, the size, and how close to bed time it was.
Experts say that when you consume caffeine, it reaches a peak level in 30 to 60 minutes. Once it’s in you, it has a half-life of 3 to 5 hours. (This is the time it takes to eliminate half of the amount you consumed.)
Another important factor is your age.
Did you know that recent research has shown that over time you can become more sensitive to caffeine due to biochemical changes in your body?
So, even if in the past it hasn’t affected you as much, things can catch up with you as you get older making you more susceptible to energy drink insomnia.
The 9 things that may help you go to sleep after having an energy drink
Now, that you know what you’re up against, let’s look at what you can do to get your sleep back on track if an energy drink is keeping you awake.
Keep in mind it’s going to take some time for the caffeine to wear off. As mentioned earlier, just how long will depend on your caffeine sensitivity and various other factors.
And, if you do the wrong things to pass the time, it can keep you up much later than need be.
If you’re not careful, you can get yourself even more wired up and anxious, making it harder to fall asleep.
So, what you decide to do or NOT to do can make a big difference.
Here are some things worth a try that can help your body transition to sleep more quickly:
1) Adjust your sleep environment
Make sure you have a sleep friendly bedroom. It should be dark, quiet, and cool.
Too hot, you’re tossing and turning. Too cold, you’re shivering. Studies suggest keeping your room between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (16 – 19 degrees Celsius) is optimal for sleeping.
2) Turn off your electronic devices
Smartphones, tablets, and TVs emit bright blue wavelength light that can delay your natural sleep-wake cycle.
It’s also hard to turn them off if you get on social media or YouTube. There’s just too many enticing posts and videos to view.
3) Try relaxing music
Soothing music such as quiet classical tracks can help calm down the body and mind, making it easier to fall asleep.
Slow rhythm songs (60 to 80 beats per minute) have been shown in studies to improve sleep.
4) Try a breathing relaxation exercise
Deep breathing is a simple way to calm the body. One popular technique is 4-7-8 breathing.
Pioneered by Dry Andrew Weil, it involves regulating your breathing to various counts of 4, 7 and 8.
5) Gentle Stretching
Light stretching can help the body relax. It may also help with the aches and pain that keep people from sleeping deeply.
6) Try a warm bath or shower
Did your body temperature naturally dips at night before bedtime? It’s one of the things that can signal your body it’s time for sleep.
A warm bath or shower can help you relax while raising your body temperature. When finished you return to a cooler bedroom and get a temperature saying it’s time to sleep.
7) Try aromatherapy
Scents are powerful things. Studies have shown that lavender essential oils can help relax the body and promote sleep.
While lavender is the most studied, oil extracts from other yellow citrus fruits such as bergamot and yuzu can also have calming effects on the body. Be sure that the oil extract you use is of therapeutic quality and purity.
8) Try white noise
White noise can reduce the difference between regular background noise in your environment and other sounds that can arouse you out of sleep. Some people also find that it’s calming and it makes it easier to fall asleep.
9) Try a natural sleep aid
There are all sorts of natural supplements that can help the body transition to sleep.
While they haven’t been directly tested for caffeine relief, many can help fight the anxiety and stress that can keep people from falling asleep.
Some have been scientifically tested while others have not.
Energy drink alternatives worth a try
It goes without saying that the best thing is to avoid energy drinks in evening. If you do that, you won’t be stuck wondering how to go sleep after guzzling an energy drink.
In fact, sleep experts recommend that you avoid caffeine 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. If you’re really sensitive, you may need to avoid energy drinks as early as the afternoon.
So, what’s one to do if really need a pick me up but want to avoid energy drinks?
Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives worth giving a try:
Yes, it’s boring compared to cola, but nothing is healthier. Did you know that dehydrations can be a sign of fatigue?
It gives you pop and fizz without the caffeine or sugar.
Flavored sparking water:
You can find fizzy water flavored with lime, strawberry, and many other flavors. You can also just add slices of your favorite fruit toa glass of fizzy water.
Sparkling water with juice :
Add your favorite fruit juice to fizzy water. Make sure you use juice with no added sugar.
A popular drink with natural vitamins and electrolytes.
Other things you can do to keep your energy up include:
Take a power nap – A quick nap can boost your energy and productivity. There’s a right way to do it so you don’t wake up groggy. Learn more
Physical activity – Getting the heart rate up and the blood flowing can raise your energy. If pressed for time, try a 10 minute walk.
Eat smaller meals – Heavy meals can slow down your metabolism and make you feel sluggish.
Skip the energy drinks and do this…
So far, we’ve talked about what you can do to get to sleep once an energy drink is keeping you awake.
But these are all remedies.
A big reason people are dragging or are not as mentally sharp as they could be is poor sleep. In fact, every night as many as a third of adults worldwide struggle with sleep.
What you really need to do is develop lifelong habits that will help you get quality sleep every night.
So, you need to practice good sleep hygiene, the everyday habits known to affect sleep:
- Keep consistent wake up & sleep times
- Exercise during the day
- Avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as caffeine before bedtime
- Maintain a regular bedtime routine
- Avoid using TVs, laptops, or other electronics before sleep
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool, quiet, & relaxing
I’ve already mentioned some alternative beverages and activities that can help you avoid having energy drinks at the wrong time.
It’s also important to get a checkup from a doctor, especially if you’re poor sleep is an ongoing issue.
Many health conditions can cause or worsen sleep issues, including chronic pain, heartburn, cancer, dementia, and asthma. You may also be living with an undiagnosed sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
And some medical conditions can more directly cause fatigue – being anemic, thyroid issues, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, and depression can all make you feel run down.
Avoiding energy drinks and sleep hygiene will not resolve these underlying issues.
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2. “Red Bull Sold One Can For Almost Every Person on Earth Last Year”, February 2020, Bloomberg.com
3. “Top Energy Drink Companies in the U.S.”, 2019, Marketresearchreports.com
4. “Get the Facts”, Energydrinkinformation.com/
5. Online calculator, NutritionValue.org
6. “Sleep and Caffeine”, 2013, American Academy of Sleep Medicine website
7. “Urinating more at night”, U.S. National Library of Medicine website
8. Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep, J Clin Sleep Med. 2016 Jan;12(1):19-24.
9. “The Scary Effects Sugar Has on Your Sleep”, 2019, CPAP.com
10. “Sugary Drinks”, Harvard School of Public Health website
11. “Sleep and Caffeine”, 2013, American Academy of Sleep Medicine website
12. Distinct sensitivity to caffeine-induced insomnia related to age. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2018, volume 32, issue 1, pages 89-95.
13. Some phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): a review of recent research, Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Feb;46(2):409-20.
14. “8 healthy ways to boost energy”, 2012, CNN.com
15. “World Sleep Day Talking Points”, World Sleep Society website
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