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Best Energy Drinks For Staying Awake (Tips)

The usual amount of time between when we wake up and when we go to bed isn’t always enough. When this happens, all anyone can do is try to find the best help they can find in a cup of coffee or an energy drink.

That, or awaken the willpower to resist sleep.

Late night work
Burning the midnight oil…

Fortunately, energy drinks are very much a valid option if you don’t like coffee. But with so many brands, how does anyone know what to buy?

Short answer: Energy drinks with either more than 160mg of caffeine or a lot of sugar (or both) are the best way to keep yourself energized throughout the night. Although it is recommended you don’t have them too often due to the health ramifications of them.

What are these drinks? Why do they need to have so much caffeine to help you? Read on for the details on every drink and an explanation of what makes these drinks so good at keeping you up. 

Ways to Keep Yourself Awake at Night

caffeine (coffee)
Tasty and reliable

There’s a simple answer to this: taking in caffeine. Alternatively, you can also consider having energy drinks or any beverage with high sugar content to stay awake.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is classified as a stimulant. This means it’s a drug that promotes alertness and increased brain activity. This makes it the complete opposite of a depressant, which has the reverse effect (e.g alcohol). Most stimulants are legal and widely used as of this writing.

Although it’s mostly associated with coffee and energy drinks, it’s a common ingredient in a lot of other things, too.

You can also find caffeine in:

  • Chocolate
  • Candy
  • Nicotine (cigarettes)
  • Methamphetamines
  • Cocaine

Caffeine is also an ingredient in prescription drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine. 

Half-life of Caffeine

What exactly makes caffeine so effective? Outside of being a stimulant, it actually stays in your system for a considerable amount of time after consumption. 

After taking any kind of caffeine, it comes into effect within 10-15 minutes after consumption. From there, it slowly reaches peak levels then begins decreasing until it’s out of your system. 

When the amount of caffeine in your bloodstream goes down to being half of what it was at its peak, you reach the caffeine’s half-life. The half-life of caffeine refers to when your blood only has half of the caffeine it had before. 

This typically happens 3-6 hours after you first consume the caffeine. However, exactly how long your body needs to reach this point depends on your caffeine tolerance.

Caffeine tolerance is how quickly your body processes caffeine. If you’re used to caffeine, you’ll process it quicker and have it in your system for a shorter time than someone with a lower tolerance.

Conversely, Caffeine sensitivity is how well your body absorbs the caffeine. People with high caffeine sensitivity tend to be more vulnerable to the side effects than people with a higher tolerance. 

Why is this important to know? 

Caffeine’s half-life influences how caffeine affects your body. It’s the reason why too much caffeine or caffeine taken at the wrong time is linked to sleep problems. Caffeine consumed at 4PM may still be present in your body at 10PM if it takes 6 hours to reach half-life. In that case, it won’t leave your system until 4AM.

How Much Caffeine is Recommended in a Day?

The FDA recommends drinking no more than 400mg of caffeine per day for full-grown adults. Drinking any more than that will make you more vulnerable to experiencing the side effects, especially lack of sleep. At worst, you could end up having to pay for a trip to the emergency room. 

Pros and Cons of Caffeinated Drinks

Caffeine has been shown in study after study to improve memory, reduce fatigue, and improve mental functioning. According to a 2005 study presented at the Radiological Society of North America, it can improve short-term memory and reaction times.

Benefits also include:

  • Helps in boosting weight loss
  • Improve physical performance (can also serve as a good pre workout)
  • Contains vitamin B
  • May lower the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes
  • May protect from acquiring Alzheimer’s and Dementia
  • May lower risk of having Parkinson’s Diseases
  • Can fight against depression
  • May lower the risk of suffering from a stroke

It should also be noted that some medications can have a negative effect when mixed with caffeine. Consuming large amounts of caffeine when you’re already taking these will most likely increase your chances of experiencing the side effects such as the following:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia (lack of sleep)
  • The constant need to urinate/Frequent urination
  • Anxiety
  • Foul mood (Irritability)
  • Palpitations/Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors/Twitching

Best Energy Drinks To Stay Awake With

If you’re in need of that added boost for your daily grind, you might want to try out some of the popular and highly commended energy drinks found in the market today.

Energy DrinksCaloriesSugar ContentCaffeine Content
Monster Energy
(16 fl.oz)
210 calories54g160mg
Rockstar Energy
(16 fl.oz)
270 calories63g160mg
Bang Energy
16 fl.oz)
0 calories0g300mg
NOS Energy
(16 fl.oz)
210 calories54g160mg
5-Hour Energy
(1.93 fl.oz)
0 calories0g200mg

Monster Energy Drink

Monster Can

Monster Energy Drink has 160mg of caffeine and 54g of sugar per serving.

I have to admit, Monster Energy might not have as much caffeine as the criteria above implied. But it has more than enough sugar to make up for it.

160mg of caffeine is 40% of what you can safely drink in a day. That in itself is fine. By that standard alone, you might actually be able to drink 2 in a day. But honestly, I’d advise you not to do it. 

The real problem here is the sugar content. As mentioned, Monster has 54g of sugar. That’s far more than anyone should be consuming in a day. For reference, the AHA believes daily sugar intake should be limited to 25g for women and 36g a day for men, which is 6 and 9 teaspoons of sugar a day respectively. 

So if you want an energy drink that gives a bit less caffeine but gives you a good rush of energy anyway, this would be a good option to consider. 

Monster Energy is one of the older and more trusted brands, too. If you need a second opinion of how well it works and if it’s worth it, you’ll find no shortage of people who can give you exactly that. 

Rockstar Energy Drink

Rockstar Energy has 160mg of caffeine and 63g of sugar per can. 

Here’s another brand that contains the average amount of caffeine by energy drink standards, but has tons of sugar to make up for it. 

The 160mg of caffeine per can is nothing out of the ordinary, but the sugar levels in Rockstar are out of this world. 63g of sugar is nearly double what a man can safely consume in a day (36g). And if you’re a woman, it’s more than double what you can consume in a day (25g).

Rockstar also has 270 calories per can. It can get the job done and keep you awake and alert all night if necessary. It has more caffeine than your usual cup of coffee (95mg) and is filled to the brim with sugar. Potential side effects notwithstanding, Rockstar does have everything you need. 

You might want to restrict drinking this to only when you need it though. Especially if you don’t want to get diabetes or any of the other side effects of too much sugar. Or if you’re trying to lose weight for that matter. 

Bang Energy Drink

Bang cans

Bang Energy has 300mg of caffeine but is sugar-free and calorie-free.

Its 300mg of caffeine is already 75% of your daily caffeine limit. Since it has neither sugar nor calories to look at, it’s pretty straightforward. Drinking Bang Energy will give you the caffeine rush you’re looking for. If that 300mg is anything to go by, you’ll be up for quite a while too. However, it’s worth noting that Bang has artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. 

Artificial sweeteners are sugar substitutes that businesses and even home cooks frequently use to reduce the sugar content of the food and beverages they consume.  Bang, they’re more often calorie-free. That is, they contribute less than 5 calories in total. Unfortunately, the label is not meant to be taken at face value.

The artificial sweetener you can find in Bang is sucralose (also known as Splenda). Despite what the term ‘artificial sweetener’ might imply, sucralose is actually 600 times sweeter than normal sugar. As mentioned, it’s also calorie-free. 

As of this writing, no studies have been conducted that can conclusively show that sucralose has a negative impact on the body. However, it is still best to avoid consuming too much sucralose because this may disrupt your (good) gut bacteria.

NOS Energy Drink

NOS cans

NOS Energy has 160mg of caffeine and 54g of sugar. 

Another old and trusted brand is NOS Energy. This has been around for a long time and has seen many changes in its formula and its management. If it’s available in your area, it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone who can tell you what they think.

Like I said, 160mg of caffeine is the average amount of caffeine for most energy drinks. This can be a lot for some people, but it’s far from the most caffeinated thing you can get in the market.

NOS definitely doesn’t have as much sugar as Rockstar, but it’s still loaded with sugar since 54g is a lot for anyone, after all.

Even though drinking one of these won’t ruin your health on its own, it can cause problems later down the line if you aren’t careful. Still, I think it’s worth noting that NOS has an artificial sweetener (sucralose) in addition to its sugar content. 

This is a weird choice, to say the least, considering how NOS is already overloaded in sugar. But, I wouldn’t call it a bad thing either since sucralose is safe and doesn’t add much other than flavor. 

5-Hour Energy 

5-Hour Energy bottle
5-Hour Energy Shots

5-Hour energy has 200mg of caffeine and is sugar-free.

If you don’t know what 5-Hour Energy is: it’s best known for being the brand that started the ‘energy shots’ trend.

What’s an energy shot? Think of everything that’s in your usual energy drink, but concentrated into a tiny bottle. So instead of having 200mg of caffeine per 16 fl. oz serving, it has 200mg of caffeine per shot

Each shot is 1.93 fl. oz, which is roughly an eighth of the cans any other brand would give you. If you’re in a rush and want something cheap but effective, then this might be the drink for you. No sugar and few calories mean you won’t have to worry about your weight with this either.

Then again, whether or not energy shots are right for you is another matter. Having a concentrated drink can do wonders for your alertness. But it might not taste good in practice if the product reviews on Youtube are anything to go by. 

This is subjective, of course. Who knows? You might just end up liking it more than any of the other brands listed here. 

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, the best energy drinks for staying up are those with at least 160mg of caffeine or more. If the drink doesn’t have more than that, then sugar can make up for it. 

Examples of these energy drinks are Monster, Rockstar, NOS, and 5-Hour Energy.

Now that you’ve gotten this far, I hope you have a better idea of what to take for your next all-nighter. It might be unavoidable, but it’s doable with the right drink.

That said, do try to get proper sleep when you can. Staying up can be great for your work progress and deadlines, but doing that too often is bad for your health. 

If you’re curious as to what else could work, here’s the link to a comprehensive review of several brands below. They’re ranked based on effectiveness, so I’d say watching is a good place to start if you’re still unsure. 

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