Best Energy Drinks for All-Nighters (Stay Awake)

While I don’t recommend anyone to pull an all-nighter, whether you’re a student or a young executive looking to impress the higher-ups with overtime, there may be certain situations where doing so may be unavoidable, such as when you’re forced to take the graveyard shift.

Late work
Night shift workers often suffer from poor sleep quality, which puts them at risk for various health problems

I will not pester you with advice on time management or responsibility, so here’s the brief low-down on some brands that may help you stay awake throughout those long, lonely nights.

From my research, I have found that the best energy drinks for pulling all-nighters are: Virtue, Mawe, Runa, and Celsius. Other more familiar brands include AMP Sugar-Free, Game Fuel Sugar-Free, Red Bull Sugar-Free, and Aspire Energy.

But if you can spare a few minutes to finish the rest of this article, you may find out more about the side effects of pulling regular all-nighters and why drinking caffeine, in general, to stay up late is bad for your sleep health.

Why Pulling All-Nighters is Bad

While unavoidable in some situations, not everyone stays up throughout the night for academic purposes. However, for the most part, a huge chunk of the population stays up during the night because they are forced to take the dreaded night shifts.

People working in certain sectors such as doctors, nurses, air traffic controllers, truck drivers, and security guards often have to pull all-nighters simply because that is the nature of their job.

Doctors and Nurses
Doctors and nurses often have to work 12-hour night shifts in the emergency room.

Others do it for recreational reasons, such as gaming or partying, and a slew of other social activities, which I don’t think is a good enough excuse to sacrifice those precious hours that could have been better spent allowing your body to rest and recover.

Whatever the reason is, pulling all-nighters frequently is typically hard on your body since a typical adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day, and night shifters rarely get that number in because not many people can get good quality sleep during the day.

Because night-shifters typically have their circadian rhythms disrupted by irregular sleep patterns, they are more likely to develop what is known as Shift Work Disorder, which prevents them from getting quality sleep even during the times when they’re not working.

The human body is also more accustomed to sleeping during the night than during the day, which many night-shifters are forced to sacrifice.

Side Effects of Pulling All-Nighters

One study found that staying awake all night and then sleeping during the day even just for a 24-hour cycle, can increase your risk for developing various diseases such as:

  • diabetes
  • weight gain
  • cancer

Pulling all-nighters also leads to more sleep debt, due to the fact that you’re probably not getting much quality sleep during the day.

Sleep
Night shift workers suffer the most health-wise because they rarely get adequate sleep during the day.

The more sleep debt you incur, the higher your risk for experiencing sleep deprivation, which can compromise your immune system, induce insulin resistance, raise your blood pressure, stress hormone levels, and ultimately result in a fatal medical emergency like a heart attack.

Those who are sleep-deprived often experience poor cognitive performance, impaired memory, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, and depression. Sleep is such a crucial aspect to the body’s natural recuperative system.

Without adequate sleep, your body cannot repair itself or synthesize the important building blocks that keep your entire biological system ticking.

Energy Drinks and Sleep

You may think that energy drinks are the holy grail for all-nighters, but with the amount of sugar and caffeine that is contained in some brands, you may end up feeling sleepier and more sluggish than before.

The problem with energy drinks is that in order to maintain its effects, you have to keep drinking more and more because the caffeine only lasts about 30 minutes after consumption despite lingering in your system for five hours before being completely metabolized.

Avoid consuming caffeine 3-4 hours before your night shift ends so that you don’t disrupt your sleep.

That means that even when you no longer feel the energy-boosting effects of caffeine and begin to experience a crash, your ability to get quality sleep may still be affected, resulting in insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Caffeine itself is a double-edged sword and comes with its own problems. Despite its impressive list of benefits, caffeine also comes with an equally concerning list of dangers:

  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • jitters
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • nausea

However, despite these side effects, many night shift workers still rely on them to keep them functioning at maximum capacity since their job often requires a high amount of concentration and attention to detail.

If you want to know what types of caffeinated drinks can work best for night shifts, watch the video below.

Night Shift Nurse Tries Different Types of Caffeine for Three Shifts

Caffeine in Energy Drinks

Most caffeine sources used in energy drinks are derived from coffee beans and leaves, some even refined into more potent forms like caffeine anhydrous.

This basic coffee-based caffeine is what’s normally attributed to the more unsavory effects of drinking energy drinks like jitters and  that all too familiar caffeine crash that comes afterward

However, not all caffeine is created equal. Newer brands have used many alternatives to this coffee-based caffeine that provide all the energy-boosting benefits of regular caffeine with none of the side effects. These alternative coffee sources include matcha, guarana, yerba mate, and guayusa.

Matcha

While not as strong as regular caffeine, matcha is loaded with antioxidants, which decreases your likelihood of experiencing those unpleasant health issues I mentioned before.

Moreover, matcha is also loaded with L-theanine which helps alleviate stress and may also reduce the anxiety and nervousness often associated with caffeine consumption.

While matcha does help prevent fatigue and may promote alertness and concentration, studies have found that matcha actually helps you sleep better due to its rich source of

Guarana

While found to be twice as strong as coffee due to its high caffeine content, guarana provides significantly different benefits due to chemicals known as tannins, which tamper some of the typical, and oftentimes unpleasant effects of regular caffeine.

Instead of a quick jolt of energy, guarana produces a slow, long-lasting surge of vitality, reducing your risk of experiencing those dreaded caffeine crashes, which makes it more favorable than coffee-based caffeine.

However, there is still not much scientific evidence to back this up, so your mileage may vary.

Yerba Mate

Traditionally ingested as a herbal tea in South America, yerba mate is made by brewing the leaves and twigs of the holly plant. It has less caffeine than regular coffee, but still contains enough to enhance mental performance, reaction time, and alertness.

Yerba mate can boost energy, enhance physical performance, improve focus, and is rich in antioxidants.

Many people claim that yerba mate is able to supply them with energy all day without any of the jitters normally attributed to drinking regular coffee.

Guayusa

Guayusa is typically favored for having theobromine, which much like guarana, prevents that dreaded caffeine crash that makes you feel worse after the initial high wears off.

Found in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon, guayusa has been cultivated and used for years by aboriginal tribes to provide sustained energy for hunting and foraging in the wilderness.

Studies have shown that guayusa provides a long-lasting energy boost without the caffeine jitters, which is why it is a prized ingredient in many natural, botanical-based energy drinks.

Best Energy Drinks for All-Nighters

The following energy drinks are from newer brands that contain the aforementioned botanicals: yerba mate, guayusa, guarana, and matcha.

Some of them do contain regular caffeine, but hopefully, the introduction of the alternatives is able to reduce, or even eliminate, the jitters and provide a sustained, long-lasting energy surge instead of a quick and temporary boost that ends in a devastating crash.

Virtue

Virtue Clean Energy Yerba Mate is formulated with yerba mate, B vitamins, green coffee bean extract, and sweetened with steviol, erythritol, and agave nectar. It has zero calories, zero sugar, zero fat, zero sodium, and 0.5g of carbs.

It is keto-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free. It’s naturally flavored with fruit juices and comes in two varieties: Peach & Raspberry and Strawberry & Lime. A pack of 12 retails at about $16.

Mawe Energy

Named after the Maués tribe of the Amazon who first cultivated the guarana fruit, Mawe is a natural energy drink formulated with natural fruit juices (pear and apple), B vitamins (B5, B6, and B12), and guarana extract that can provide clean energy without the headaches, jitters or sleepless nights.

It is low in calories, contains only 6g of sugar, and is vegan and gluten-free. A 12-pack costs $16.50

Runa

Runa is a natural, plant-based energy drink made with brewed guayusa tea leaves. It contains 150mg of caffeine, only 10 calories, 3g of carbohydrates of which is 2g of added sugar, 10mg of sodium, and 0g of protein.  It is vegan, gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, and kosher.

Flavors include Blood Orange, Berry Boost, Lime Twist, and Watermelon Focus. A 12-pack costs $34.

MatchaBar

MatchaBar Hustle is a clean, plant-based energy drink that provides sustained, balanced energy without the crash or jitters. It contains 120mg of caffeine, 5 calories, 4g of sugar. It is sweetened with the botanical sweetener, monk fruit extract.

MatchaBar Unsweetened contains zero sugar. It is vegan, paleo, and keto friendly. Flavors include Lemon Lime, Berry, Mint and Peach. A 12-pack costs $39.

Other Brands

The following brands may be more familiar to you who may have trouble procuring the above recommendations. These options are also more affordable, plus they come in singles which may be more preferable to buying in 12-packs.

These options are also all sugar-free, to prevent you from experiencing that sugar crash, atop the inevitable caffeine crash that you may potentially face as well.

BrandCaffeinePrice
(Average)
AMP Energy Sugar-Free71mg$1.50
(single)
Game Fuel Zero Sugar72mg$23
(12-pack)
Red Bull Zero/Sugar-Free80mg$2.50
(single)
Aspire Energy80mg$24
(12-pack)
Energy Drinks from Familiar Brands

Conclusion

Pulling all-nighters is a desperate measure for desperate times, but that being said, not everyone has the luxury to afford a good night’s sleep.

Aside from cultivating good sleeping schedules and healthy eating habits, there are also steps you can take to reduce the effects of sleep deprivation on your body, especially if you are a night shift worker.

One of those ways is to reduce or monitor your caffeine intake, which can be hard whenever energy drinks are concerned. Drinking energy drinks too close to the end of your night shift can leave you too wired to catch up on your sleep throughout the rest of the day.

So be sure to stop drinking any energy drinks a few hours before sunrise, so that your body can have time to metabolize the caffeine. Staying awake throughout the night can be a challenge, especially since our circadian rhythms have evolved to favor nighttime sleep.

Hopefully, the choices that I’ve outlined for you may help you function at full capacity, but unless you can’t avoid doing night shifts or are rushing to meet important deadlines, I wouldn’t recommend staying up past your bedtime, for any reason.

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About Adrian Carter

Adrian writes about energy drinks and their ingredients to shine a light on the facts behind the brand names.

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