A new study conducted by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research entitled, “Energy drink consumption and its association with sleep problems among US service members on a combat deployment,” has come to the startling conclusion that energy drinks may not be a healthy alternative to a good night’s sleep, and the mainstream media has chosen to act like that’s a surprise.

Research conducted as a part of the study found that nearly forty-five percent of deployed military personnel drink at least one energy drink per day, and nearly fourteen percent admitted to drinking three or more per day.  The report went on to suggest that it’s possible that this level of energy drink consumption can have negative side effects on the health of American service members.

“These products generally are unregulated and can have negative side effects,” the report said. “Those who drank three or more drinks a day also were more likely to report sleep disruption related to stress and illness and were more likely to fall asleep during briefings or on guard duty.”

First and foremost, let’s agree that falling asleep on post is no laughing matter.  It can compromise mission objectives and cost the lives of your brothers and sisters in arms, whether you’re on post in garrison or forward deployed.  Threats against our service members are continuous, but uncommon in some places, making that twenty-four hour post sometimes particularly difficult to manage without a little assistance from coffee, energy drinks, or caffeinated novelties like gum.  Many Marines I’ve served with even took up smoking or chewing primarily as a means to help them stay awake – sometimes out of concern over the enemy, and sometimes out of concern for roving first sergeants that appear out of the darkness like Batman during your eighteenth hour of barracks duty the day after Thanksgiving.

Smoking, like energy drinks, is bad for you – and just about every man and woman you run across in uniform is aware of that.  The problem is, car bombs, IEDs, and 7.62 rounds are also pretty bad for you – and we need to survive those in order to be concerned about the damage that last Camel did to our lungs, or that Rip It did to our livers.  CNN’s announcement today that the “Army’s new threat” is energy drinks is a clear misunderstanding of what our service members actually do while they’re at work.


The Army doesn’t need a new threat, CNN. It’s still got plenty of old ones.


Energy drinks played a big role in my time in the Marines – and continue to despite my keen awareness of how bad they are for me.  The pins, screws, plates, and metal screens Navy surgeons used to piece my knees, ankle, and stomach together after seven years in Uncle Sam’s gun club are near constant reminders that my choices have consequences, and the vodka I mix my Sprite with likely isn’t going to prolong my life much either.  The fact of the matter is, the sort of person that chooses to raise a hand, swear an oath, and charge headlong into whatever battle their country requires of them often do so with a keen awareness of the risks, and a conscious decision to value the objectives of the day over the possibility of losing all of their tomorrows.