A team of researchers has discovered the connection between masculinity, energy drink use and sleep problems.
Energy drinks have grown in popularity for many Americans, but there is growing concern about the health risks of consuming them in large quantities. Because men are the main consumers of energy drinks, the University of Akron researchers set out to study a possible link between masculinity, expectations about the benefits of consuming energy drinks, how those expectations affect energy drink use and the impact on sleep.
Energy drinks are often marketed as "masculine" drinks. Commercials and ads for them often show men engaging in high-risk, adrenaline-pumping activities such as skydiving or snowboarding. Energy drinks also sponsor many sporting events, such as ultimate fighting leagues, racing, and motocross.
Team leader Ronald F. Levant said that 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.
Levant explained that they found associations between beliefs in traditional masculinity, beliefs in the efficacy of energy drinks, energy drink consumption, and sleep disturbances with a few notable exceptions.
He continued that 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. However, for young white men in the sample, the associations were clear.
Many energy drinks have high caffeine content; when consumed in excess, caffeine can accelerate the heart rate, increase anxiety, and contribute to insomnia. Men who perceive energy drinks as 'magic potions' for performance enhancement, the study suggests, are better served moderating their consumption.
The study appears in Health Psychology.