Daytime drowsiness, balancing alcohol consumption and increasing performance are all reasons given by people who drink energy drinks. The quick, pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon or on a long drive somewhere can help you to stay alert until dinnertime. Then sleep time comes and you regret your action. The stimulant can keep working longer than you anticipated it would and ruin a good night’s sleep, which do more to recharge the batteries naturally.
A typical 8-ounce energy drink supplies 80 mg or more of caffeine, and 25 g or more of sugar. This combination works at opposite ends of the energy spectrum, with sugar creating an insulin response and leading to weight gain. Meanwhile, the caffeine is a stimulant and diuretic, which makes you dehydrated and creates more demand for more fluids.
The side effects of all of this caffeine can be risky to your health, and children in particular should avoid it. Young children do not have a well-developed metabolism that can process high levels of caffeine and sugar effectively. The short- term side effects can include increased anxiety, irritability, nervousness or moodiness.
Children who drink high-caffeine, high sugar energy drinks tend to be more antagonistic and unfocused in school. When energy drinks were banned from a school in England, visits to the Principal’s office declined nearly forty percent in the first month. The teachers report that the academic performance of the children has increased markedly as their behavior has improved.
Consuming large quantities of caffeine can also cause heart palpitations, convulsions and even death. Continued use of energy drinks loaded with sugar increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Psychological and emotional issues are also associated with long-term heavy consumption of energy drinks, including an increased risk of depression, habit-forming and dependence on alcohol. Because energy drinks are typically consumed quickly, they are more likely to lead to a caffeine overdose than strong coffee, which is typically consumed slowly over several minutes.
A popular mixture with college kids and teenagers is energy drinks and alcohol. The energy drinks act as stimulants, while alcohol is a depressant. The desire with this mixture is to reduce the effect of the alcohol by disguising the intoxication and the fatigue normally associated with alcohol consumption. Essentially, the body is unable to detect when it has consumed enough, or too much.
The drinker will feel alert, as if they were not drunk, yet their blood alcohol levels may be dangerously high. The result is people who drink this mixture often drink a lot more than they would without the energy drink. To make matters worse, the combined effect of caffeine and alcohol is a super-dehydrator, which creates a much bigger hangover the next day.
This yin and yang between stimulant and depressant puts your body into a very stressful condition. The effect is similar to an acute stress response when you face sudden danger that causes the organs to work overtime. Your heart, liver, brain, digestive tract and kidneys all go to work and may tire themselves out to protect you during the sustained period when the chemicals are present.
The natural way to build your energy reserves and maximize your performance is to get adequate sleep, include physical activity in your daily routine, and eat a healthy diet. Stay away from the energy drinks and please, keep them away from your kids.