Implications of sleep and energy drink use for health disparities

Nutr Rev. 2014 Oct;72 Suppl 1(0 1):14-22. doi: 10.1111/nure.12137.


The popularity of energy drinks has increased rapidly in the past decade. One of the main reasons people use energy drinks is to counteract effects of insufficient sleep or sleepiness. Risks associated with energy drink use, including those related to sleep loss, may be disproportionately borne by racial minorities and those of lower socioeconomic status. In this review, a brief introduction to the issue of health disparities is provided, population-level disparities and inequalities in sleep are described, and the social-ecological model of sleep and health is presented. Social and demographic patterns of energy drink use are then presented, followed by discussion of the potential ways in which energy drink use may contribute to health disparities, including the following: 1) effects of excessive caffeine in energy drinks, 2) effects of energy drinks as sugar-sweetened beverages, 3) association between energy drinks and risk-taking behaviors when mixed with alcohol, 4) association between energy drink use and short sleep duration, and 5) role of energy drinks in cardiometabolic disease. The review concludes with a research agenda of critical unanswered questions.

Keywords: caffeine; energy drinks; health disparities; sleep; sugar-sweetened beverages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Energy Drinks*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Racial Groups*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Social Class*


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Caffeine