Do you consume energy drinks to cut down on sleep and nab a few extra hours of productivity? If so, you’re among the millions of workers who seek a way to stay alert and produce more. In a survey reported by PR Newswire, 60% of U.S. workers admit to workplace mistakes due to tiredness, and 93% say boosting their energy during the workday with caffeine is a top necessity, surpassing taking a walk or listening to music. According to the European Food Safety Authority, as many as 30% of adults over 18 consume energy drinks on a regular basis.

Drawbacks Of Energy Drinks On Job Productivity

While pick-me-ups such as Red Bull, Diet Coke, Monster or Starbucks might seem like a quick and easy fix to get the job done, studies show that caffeinated drinks are not as effective for career success as they’re cracked up to be. Still, the demand for Red Bulls has grown since its introduction to the U.S. market in 1997 and has become common staples in many diets worldwide. The impact of stimulant drinks on sleep deprivation—plus the long lists of potentially harmful ingredients in the drinks—has short and long-term harmful effects on your health. What seems like a satisfying solution to job stress and burnout in the moment can become a bigger problem later on. Stimulant drinks make you more alert and improve cognitive functioning and mood in the short term. But coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance with negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink more caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it’s taking you to new heights. In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.

Large doses of stimulant drinks can tax your nervous system, interfere with sleep and dehydrate you. They can cause irritability, insomnia, anxiety and elevated blood pressure. And because many energy drinks are filled with large doses of sugar, they can lead to serious long-term effects such as type 2 diabetes, migraines, neurological and cardiovascular system effects, poor dental health and obesity.

Regular use of stimulant drinks boosts the release of chronically elevated adrenaline and cortisol levels, putting your brain and body into the hyper-aroused state of fight-or-flight survival mode. This red alert prompts your body to overreact to normal daily stressors, causing your blood pressure and pulse rates to climb and your emotions to run roughshod over your actions. Irritability and anxiety—which can lead to inappropriate acting out in the workplace—are the most common negative emotional outcomes of caffeine. Plus, cortisol uses up antioxidants such as vitamins A, B, C and E, and depletes your body of essential minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium—the very fuel it needs to fight off stress. A large amount of cortisol also makes you crave foods high in fat, sugar and salt—a craving that results in stress eating, a secondary problem that causes further damage to your body.

7 Alternative Tips For A Daily Energy Burst

If you decide to consume energy drinks, it’s important to do so in moderation. Reliance on energy drinks for job performance is a poor substitute for countermeasures that can combat work fatigue, sustain your energy level and lead to greater career success in the long run. If you’re looking for healthier alternatives, here are seven tips to keep your energy level and productivity up throughout the workday.

1. Identify the underlying reason for your fatigue. Discover why you need to rely on stimulant drinks. Are you not eating properly, exercising, or getting enough sleep? Are you working overtime for unreasonable hours? Or are you missing something in your diet? Understanding the cause will help you find a way to rectify it so you can deal directly with the problem, rather than just the symptoms.

2. Cut down on caffeinated drinks. Replace energy drinks with bottled water, protein smoothies, fruit juices or herbal tea. Instead of Red Bulls, coffee or other stimulant drinks that boost your cortisol level, try black or green tea. These teas lower cortisol and increase levels of relaxing chemicals in the brain.

3. Stay hydrated. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue, but drinking enough water is one of the easiest things to forget to do. Stocking bottled water at your desk will trigger your memory to drink fluids throughout the workday.

4. Consider taking a midday power nap at your desk. Just five or ten minutes of shuteye provide an effective strategy to achieve maximum alertness and get an energy burst after a few winks. Studies at the Salk Institute show that brain activity, memory and mood stay higher throughout the day when you power nap, eliminating the crash following the revved up caffeine high.

5. Keep moving. Sitting for long periods causes you to feel fatigued and make you want to reach for a quick caffeine fix. Simple exercise can give you a quick energy boost of dopamine and serotonin, which enhance work productivity. Take a break from your desk and substitute the stairs in place of the elevator. Instead of parking in the space closest to the entrance to your office building, park a distance away and walk.

6. Avoid feeding job stress and feed job success. Stress and certain foods go hand in hand. Sweets, starches like mashed potatoes, fats and salty foods like French fries act as a natural tranquilizer that calms you down when you’re under the gun at work. To offset the sluggishness, avoid reaching for a stimulant drink after a high-carb lunch. An alternative is to eat your veggies. Fruits and plant-based foods are digested more slowly. As the day drags on, you have more energy and less need for energy drinks so you’re not dragged along for the ride.

7. Eat healthy snacks. The empty ingredients in cheese puffs and potato chips don’t give you the fuel to offset job stress and to perform at your best, raising the risk of substituting a caffeinated drink for an energy burst. Stock your desk drawer with high-protein, low-calorie snacks to prevent blood sugar dips and stress-related fatigue. Nibble on protein bars or trail mix or munch on raw fruits, nuts and vegetables.


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: