A high sugar content, low caffeine drink does not alleviate sleepiness but may worsen it

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2006 Jul;21(5):299-303. doi: 10.1002/hup.769.


Although the ingestion of high levels of glucose might have a short acting alerting effect, there is evidence of an ensuing enhancement of sleepiness in people already sleepy. Some 'energy drinks' contain large quantity of sugars. We compared 250 ml of a well known 'energy drink' (42 g sugars, containing a low [30 mg] level of caffeine for 'flavouring') with a nil sugar nil caffeine, similar tasting control. These were given a week apart, in a repeated measures, double blind, balanced design, to 10 participants sleep restricted to 5 h the prior night. They had a light lunch, consumed a drink at 13:50 h, and 10 min later underwent 3 x 30 min consecutive periods at a reaction time (RT) task (the Psychomotor Vigilance Test), separated by 3 min breaks when self-ratings of sleepiness were made. The energy drink did not counteract sleepiness, and led to slower RTs and more lapses during the final 30 min session, around 80 min after consumption.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Beverages
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Flavoring Agents / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychometrics
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Sleep Stages / drug effects*


  • Carbohydrates
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Flavoring Agents
  • Caffeine