You must have had days when you feel like taking a quick power nap, but your entire day is planned to the minute or when you need to pull an all-nighter to get that presentation ready by morning.
We all go through that once in a while. However, resisting the urge to sleep isn’t as easy as it seems.
Even if you get yourself to stay awake, you just don’t have the energy to function at your maximum potential resulting in little to no productivity.
Coffee is one of the options to help you resist sleep, but it doesn’t guarantee an energy surge. Therefore, energy drinks are a better choice.
Energy drinks won’t only help you stay awake, but they will provide you with a much-needed energy boost. Thus, keeping you mentally and physically active.
But can all energy drinks help you stay awake?
Yes, but depending on their ingredients, their effectiveness and potency may vary.
In this article, I have covered all the aspects that will help you pull a successful all-nighter. In the end, I have recommended a few energy drinks that I think will work the best for the said purpose.
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How Do Energy Drinks Keep You Awake?
The two main components in energy drinks that help you stay up are caffeine and sugar. Both these ingredients elevate your energy levels and brain activity.
But energy drinks contain more than just that. They’re comprised of other active ingredients and essential vitamins that enhance the overall body performance.
Ingredients like taurine and guarana make the effects of caffeine on the body more effective and long-term.
Your energy drink must have the right balance of ingredients to provide you with an intense yet sustainable energy boost.
Ingredients in an Energy Drink That Will Keep You Up
How well an energy drink helps you combat sleep depends on its caffeine and sugar content as well as, on the other active ingredients.
Here are the ingredients that you should look for in an energy drink to help you stay awake:
Caffeine is the key component in an energy drink. The stimulating properties of caffeine keep your brain active and focused. The effects of caffeine on the central nervous system result in improved mood and wakefulness.
Since caffeine works by blocking the adenosine receptors that generate the feeling of fatigue and sleepiness, it is the perfect ingredient to intake when pulling an all-nighter.
However, make sure you do not overconsume caffeine as it can result in side effects like
- Severe headache
- High blood pressure
- Anxiety and jitters
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends a daily caffeine limit of 400mg.
When looking for an energy drink to help you stay awake, go for the ones containing 150-200mg of caffeine per serving.
Sugar is another common ingredient in energy drinks. The rise in blood glucose levels due to sugar consumption results in high energy production and brain activity.
Energy drinks generally contain a high sugar content to provide a quick energy rush. The energy rush provided by sugar isn’t sustainable but for the time being, it can be pretty effective.
Since sugar consumption is linked with various health issues, I don’t recommend consuming energy drinks high in sugar content regularly. They’re only suitable for those rare occasions when you need an extra kick to get through your day.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a daily sugar intake of 24 and 36g for women and men, respectively. Make sure that when you are consuming sugar-filled energy drinks, your daily sugar consumption doesn’t exceed this limit.
Guarana Extract is a natural energy booster that contains a high amount of caffeine and other stimulants. Due to the presence of caffeine in Guarana Extract, its impact on the body is almost the same as caffeine.
Guarana extract elevates focus and improves mental strength. This improved mental alertness prevents you from getting sleepy.
Taurine is an amino acid that improves physical strength and stamina. It enhances muscle strength and delays fatigue.
When combined with caffeine, it improves mental performance and elevates your cognitive functions. Taurine is naturally found in meat, fish, and dairy. Your daily taurine requirement is likely to be fulfilled by your diet alone.
But taurine in energy drinks helps you get that extra kick to help your body thrive.
How Long Does Caffeine Keep You Awake?
Depending on your metabolism, the half-life of caffeine is between 4 to 6 hours. This means 50% of the caffeine is still present in your body up to this time, keeping you up and energized.
How long caffeine stays in your body also depends on your caffeine tolerance. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you’re likely to experience more intense effects of caffeine. This can result in caffeine-related side effects thus, sticking to low caffeine content is ideal.
If you have a fast caffeine metabolism, your body will process caffeine faster resulting in a short span of an energy boost. Therefore consuming high amounts of caffeine will not be a problem for you.
But even if you can tolerate high consumption of caffeine, make sure you don’t exceed a daily limit of 400mg.
Does Sugar Affect Your Sleep?
Sugar breaks down into glucose which increases energy production. The intense surge of energy after sugar intake prevents you from falling asleep.
Sugar consumption results in elevated energy levels, but it also affects the health of your body.
Regular consumption of added sugars results in excess weight gain and risk of various heart and kidney diseases.
Some short-term effects of high sugar intake include elevated blood pressure, irritability, and nausea.
Another downside is the sugar crash you’ll experience once the energy surge wears off. The sudden drop in energy levels results in fatigue and tiredness.
Therefore make sure you consume energy drinks that contain a moderate amount of sugar.
Does Red Bull Keep You Awake?
Yes, Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine and 27g of sugar in an 8.4 fl. oz can. To give you that extra kick, it also contains 1000mg of taurine.
Red Bull contains a high sugar content. Therefore, its regular consumption isn’t advised. But on days when you need to resist sleep and pull an all-nighter, Red Bull is just the right choice.
If you are concerned about the high sugar content, you can switch to the sugar-free version of Red Bull which is just as effective.
How Long Can Energy Drinks Keep You Awake?
How long an energy drink lasts can vary depending on its ingredients and caffeine content.
Once you consume an energy drink, it kicks-in in about five to 10 minutes, after which you reach your peak energy levels in an hour or less. This energy high lasts for about three to four hours before it starts to drop gradually.
Even though the main active ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine, other ingredients play an important role in how effective the energy boost is.
Therefore, with the right balance of active ingredients, an energy drink containing less caffeine might be just as effective as the one containing high amounts of caffeine.
Best Energy Drinks for Staying Awake
I have put together a list of energy drinks (in no particular order) that I think will work best for staying awake and alert.
Let’s get started:
Red Bull is a globally recognized brand of energy drinks. With 80mg of caffeine and 27g of sugar, it provides you with an energy boost to keep you up and active.
The combined effects of taurine (1000mg) and caffeine create a long-lasting effect on your body. But since it contains sugar, it might result in a sugar crash therefore, keep yourself hydrated.
Celsius Energy drink is a fitness energy drink that claims to be a healthy alternative to regular energy drinks. It is sugar-free and contains no preservatives or artificial colors.
The natural active ingredients like guarana and ginger root with 200mg of caffeine increase energy production and elevate mental performance.
Since it contains no sugar, there are no risks of experiencing a sugar crash.
5-Hour Energy isn’t an energy drink instead it is an energy shot. The 1.93 fl. oz bottle of 5-Hour Energy is concentrated with 200mg of caffeine and essential vitamins.
This high concentration of caffeine is what makes 5-Hour energy so effective, but this might not be for everyone. If you’re sensitive to caffeine consuming 200mg of caffeine in one go can result in adverse health effects.
Bang Energy drink contains 300mg of caffeine and zero sugar or calories.
The caffeine content in Bang lies on the high end of the spectrum. If your body handles caffeine well, Bang energy drink will give an effective and intense energy boost.
There are other ingredients included in Bang to improve physical strength and performance but according to various sources, it’s just a marketing hoax.
A 16 fl. oz can of Monster contains 160mg of caffeine and 54g of sugar but remember each can of Monster contains 2 servings of 8 fl. oz each.
Per serving, the caffeine and sugar content of Monster is quite similar to that of Red Bull. It contains active ingredients like guarana and ginseng that elevate the energy experience.
If you want to prevent experiencing a sugar crash afterward, you can switch to the sugar-free version of the drink.
To maintain a healthy body and lifestyle it’s important to get at least 8-hours of sleep, but that is not always possible. Functioning without proper sleep can be quite a task. Consuming an energy drink will help you stay focused and active even when you haven’t slept much.
But this shouldn’t be practiced often, as ignoring your body’s needs and forcing it to function can lead to poor health.