Efficacy of a 'functional energy drink' in counteracting driver sleepiness

Physiol Behav. 2002 Mar;75(3):331-5. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(01)00669-2.


Driver sleepiness is a major cause of serious road crashes. Coffee is often used as an effective countermeasure to driver sleepiness. However, the caffeine levels in coffee are variable, whereas certain proprietary "functional energy drinks" (FEDs) contain known levels of caffeine (and other ingredients). We investigated the effectiveness of a well-known FED in reducing sleepiness in drivers. Twelve healthy young adults drove an instrumented car simulator between 14:00 and 17:00 h. Their sleepiness was enhanced by sleep restriction to 5 h the night before. Following a pretreatment 30-min drive and at the beginning of a 30-min break, participants were given double-blind 250-ml FED (containing sucrose, glucose, 80-mg caffeine, taurine, glucuronolactone and vitamins) vs. a control drink with the same volume and same taste but without caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone. Two hours of continuous driving ensued. Lane drifting, subjective sleepiness and the electroencephalogram (EEG) were monitored throughout. Compared with the control, the FED significantly reduced sleep-related driving incidents and subjective sleepiness for the first 90 min of the drive. There was a trend for the EEG to reflect less sleepiness during this period. It was concluded that the FED is beneficial in reducing sleepiness and sleep-related driving incidents under conditions of afternoon monotonous driving following sleep restriction the night before.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Caffeine / pharmacology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Female
  • Glucuronates / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep Stages / drug effects*
  • Taurine / pharmacology


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Glucuronates
  • Taurine
  • glucuronolactone
  • Caffeine