Sleepy Teens and Energy Drink Use

Results from an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Youth

Published in: Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 2016

Posted on RAND.org on July 06, 2016

by Wendy M. Troxel, Joan Tucker, Brett Ewing, Jeremy N. V. Miles, Elizabeth J. D'Amico

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Research Questions

  1. How prevalent is use of energy products (EP) in a racially and ethnically diverse group of adolescents?
  2. What expectations do adolescents have about using EPs?
  3. Is EP use associated with sleep outcomes?
  4. Are there racial and ethic differences in EP use, expectancies about EP use, and associations between EP use and sleep outcomes?

This study examines the association between use of energy drinks or products (EP), EP expectancies, and the association between EP use and sleep in a racially and ethnically diverse sample (N = 2,485) of adolescents. Prevalence of EP use was approximately 18%, with no statistically significant racial or ethnic differences in prevalence. There were significant racial and ethnic differences in EP expectancies; Hispanic and Multiracial or Other groups endorsed less positive expectancies than Whites and Asians. EP use was significantly associated with later weekend bedtimes, shorter weekend total sleep time (TST), a smaller weekend–weekday difference in TST, and more trouble sleeping, even after adjusting for covariates. There were no significant race or ethnicity interactions between EP use and sleep. EP use is an independent correlate of sleep problems in adolescents across racial or ethnic groups.

Key Findings

  • About 18% of these adolescents use EP.
  • Whites and Asians had more positive expectancies about use than did Hispanics and multiracial youth.
  • EP use was associated with multiple symptoms of sleep disturbance.
  • There were no significant ethnic or racial differences in sleep outcomes associated with EP use.

Recommendation

  • Given the profound consequences of insufficient sleep and poor sleep quality for adolescents' physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive development, assessing sleep health and providing education about healthy sleep hygiene, including the effects of caffeine on sleep, should be a routine part of adolescent healthcare.

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