Service members should be encouraged to moderate their consumption of energy drinks while in combat environments because they can disrupt sleep and affect mission performance, a new study reports.

The study, the first of its kind, gauged energy drink consumption among a random sample of 988 males serving in U.S. Army and Marine combat platoons deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.

Some 45 percent said they drank high-caffeine products such as Red Bull, Monster and 5-Hour Energy at least once daily, while 14 percent said they consumed three or more of the drinks each day.

In comparison, about 6 percent of adolescent and young adult males in the larger U.S. military and civilian population consume energy drinks daily, according to the study.

Higher use of energy drinks was associated with more sleep disruption due to stress and illness and a greater likelihood of falling asleep during briefings or while on guard duty.

“Service members should be educated regarding the potential adverse effects of excessive energy drink consumption,” the study states.

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