Soldiers drinking large amounts of so-called energy drinks were significantly more likely to nod off on guard duty.

Energy Drinks: Bad for Troop Readiness?

American combat soldiers in Afghanistan who drank large quantities of so-called energy drinks such as Red Bull were significantly more likely to report sleep problems such as nodding off on guard duty and in briefings, according to U.S. Army medical researchers.

Writing in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the researchers said that 45% of the 1,249 soldiers participating in a survey consumed at least one such drink daily and 14% had three or more.

Among the latter group, nearly 40% said they slept no more than 4 hours nightly. They also were twice as likely to say they fell asleep on guard duty and in briefings relative to soldiers who consumed two or fewer energy drinks daily.

The authors cautioned that their results did not prove that the energy drinks caused the sleep disruptions. Nevertheless, they advocated more counseling for soldiers  –  and the general population as well  –  about the need to moderate intake of caffeinated beverages.