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Is the Energy Drink Craze Keeping Britain Up at Night?

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With 21K Google searches in the past month, a 50% increase in the last year, the UK is going crazy for caffeinated energy drinks. At 21.4 million views in the last month, the #energydrink hashtag is currently at 91% of peak viewership on TikTok and with 70% of the viewership in the youngest age group (18–24) it suggests UK consumers are taking an interest in caffeinated drinks at a younger age.

Leading bed retailer, Bensons for Beds, conducted a survey to find out just how much caffeine people across the UK consume daily and how much is too much if they want better sleep.

The majority of the 500 people surveyed reported drinking at least three caffeinated beverages every day such as energy drinks, tea and coffee. However, the results showed women were more inclined to drink caffeinated drinks than men. 15% of men abstain from caffeine, while only 6% of women do the same and whilst men who claimed to enjoy a caffeinated beverage averaged two drinks a day, most women have at least three.

The survey revealed that caffeine consumers in the UK are most likely [44%] to drink it in the morning as a kickstart to their day. Results, however, did reveal that the younger population is far more tolerant of a late-night caffeine pick-me-up. More than 15% of those aged between 16 and 24 say they usually consume the most caffeine at night-time, compared to 0% of those aged 45 to 54.

According to Bensons, caffeine masks our body’s natural sleep drive and reduces feelings of drowsiness that would typically indicate it’s time for sleep. And while you might think that an evening cappuccino won’t hurt, it can still disrupt the timing and quality of your sleep more than six hours later. 

While some believe the amount of caffeine you consume is the culprit for a bad night’s sleep, others think it’s the time of day you drink it. These survey results show that both could be to blame. Adults aged 45 to 54 had the highest percentage of people who reported consuming up to six caffeinated drinks a day – and 1 in 4 say they always feel sleep-deprived. 

More than half (53%) of those surveyed say a lack of sleep makes them feel more sluggish and lower in energy. However, consuming more caffeine to feel a bit more awake can become a vicious cycle. While energy drinks may help you in the short term, their effects may mean you struggle to get to sleep, resulting in you feeling tired again the next day. 

The survey also revealed 39% of people feel grumpier and moodier when they’re sleep deprived whilst 33% feel unable to focus or concentrate and a further 18% have their productivity at work reduced. 

Bensons’ resident sleep expert, Dr Sophie Bostock advised, “Used strategically, caffeine can improve concentration and reaction time. But there are downsides:

  • We feel sleepier the longer we’ve been awake because of the build-up of a drowsy-inducing chemical called adenosine
  • Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors in the brain and fools us into thinking we’re not sleepy. One of the problems of relying on caffeine is that we can become detached from our true level of sleepiness, and underestimate the extent to which sleep deprivation is affecting us
  • When the caffeine breaks down, all the adenosine which has built up can hit us at full force, causing a so-called caffeine crash
  • Caffeine stays in the bloodstream for a long time – a strong coffee or a couple of well-known energy drinks, 6 hours before bed can still disrupt the timing and quality of your sleep, so it’s recommended to stick with decaf after lunch

Caffeine also acts as a stimulant on the nervous system, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. It’s recommended not to exceed 400mg per day, which is the equivalent of about 4–5 cups of instant coffee, or 3–4 cups of filter coffee. Well-known energy drinks contain 80mg per can.”

To learn more about sleep from the experts visit the Bensons for Beds Sleep Hub.

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