A report published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report determined the extent of energy drink use and the association with sleep problems and sleepiness during combat operations. Walter Reed Army Institute of Research analyzed data collected by Joint Mental Health Advisory Team 7 to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2010.
The report said there were differences by age or rank but service members who drank three or more energy drinks a day were significantly more likely to report sleeping 4 hours or less a night on average than those consuming two drinks or fewer.
"Those who drank three or more drinks a day also were more likely to report sleep disruption related to stress and illness and were more likely to fall asleep during briefings or on guard duty," the report said. "Service members should be educated regarding the potential adverse effects of excessive energy drink consumption on sleep and mission performance and should be encouraged to moderate their energy drink consumption in combat environments."
Beverages marketed as energy drinks -- caffeine is the main active ingredient -- have become a popular form of caffeine consumption targeted at young males, with some brands containing the caffeine equivalent of 1 to 3 cups of coffee or cans of soda, the report said.