Research Shows Connection Between Masculinity, Energy Drinks, and Sleep Problems

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Yaneff_051115Energy drinks are a popular pick-me-up for many Americans and their favorite brands include “Red Bull,” “Monster,” “Rockstar,” and “NOS.” However, there continues to be concern about the health issues linked to energy drink consumption, especially in large amounts.

Previous studies have suggested that energy drink consumption is more common in men than women. In fact, energy drinks are often marketed as “masculine,” and ads for the drinks typically reflect men engaging in high-risk activities, such as snowboarding or skydiving. Major energy drink companies often sponsor sporting events like motocross, car racing, and ultimate fighting.

In a new study published in the November 2015 edition of Health Psychology, a team of researchers pointed out the possible connection between masculinity, energy drink consumption, and the impact they have on sleep. The researchers also studied the expectations people have about energy drinks, and how those expectations affect how often they consume energy drinks.

“While most men who buy energy drinks aren’t martial arts champions or race car drivers, these marketing campaigns can make some men feel as though drinking energy drinks is a way to feel closer to, or associated with these ultra-masculine sports,” explained Dr. Ronald F. Levant, a professor of psychology at The University of Akron.

For the study, the researchers collected data from 467 adult men from universities who responded to three surveys to study the relationship between masculinity, energy drink use, energy drink expectations, and sleep disturbances.

Dr. Levant developed the first survey, called the Male Role Norms Inventory short form (MRNI-SF), which measured the traditional masculine attitudes, such as “I think a young man should try to be physically tough, even if he’s not,” and, “Men should not be too quick to tell others that they care about them.”

The second questionnaire measured the beliefs and expectations about energy drinks, including “If I consume energy drinks, I will perform better,” and “If I consume energy drinks, I will be more willing to take risks.”

The last survey measured male sleep pattern disturbances, including problems falling asleep or having to get up at night to use the washroom. The final questionnaire had been taken from a standard sleep quality index.

The researchers found connections between traditional masculinity beliefs, attitudes toward energy drink effectiveness, sleep disturbances, and energy drink consumption.

“Older men were, more or less, exempt from the trend, and non-white men who endorsed traditional masculinity believed in the efficacy of energy drinks, but this belief didn’t translate into actual use,” added Dr. Levant.

However, the link between young white men and energy drink use was fairly noticeable; these men appear to consume energy drinks and are also active, live a competitive lifestyle, or engage in extreme sports.

The study authors believe that the link with young white men and energy drink use can negatively impact a man’s health. The issue with energy drinks is linked to its caffeine content. Excessive caffeine consumption can contribute to insomnia.

Caffeine quantities are not required on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) beverage labels.

“Because of this, some people may drink more caffeine through energy drinks than they might have intended to throughout a day, and drinking large amounts can cause problems—especially with sleep,” Dr. Levant notes.

Besides sleep problems, other health conditions associated with energy drinks include cardiac arrest, headaches and migraines, poor dental health, types 2 diabetes, obesity, increased anxiety and nervousness, addiction, vomiting, allergic reactions, hypertension, and late miscarriages in women.

Additionally, niacin (vitamin B3) is added into most energy drinks, and too much niacin may lead to unwanted symptoms such as dizziness, itching, diarrhea, gout, and a rapid heart rate.

The study suggests that men who consume energy drinks for performance purposes should reduce their consumption.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Levant, R.F., et al., “Moderated mediation of the relationships between masculinity ideology, outcome expectations, and energy drink use,” Health Psychology 2015; 34(11): 1100, doi: 10.1037/hea0000214.
“Connections discovered between masculinity, energy drink use, and sleep problems,” ScienceDaily web site, November 4, 2015;
“Warnings issued over energy drinks,” NHS Choices web site, October 15, 2014;
“Top 13 Energy Drinks Dangers,” Caffeine Informer web site;, last accessed November 5, 2015.
Alsunni, A.A., et al., “Energy Drinks Consumption Pattern, Perceived Benefits and Associated Adverse Effects Amongst Students of University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia,” J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad 2011; 23(3).