What Should I Drink on Night Shift? 11 Energy Boosting Beverages

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What’s your go-to energy-boosting drink when working the night shift? Coffee, Red Bull, soda or do you turn to something more natural like a green tea? It’s an interesting balance choosing a beverage that not only keeps you awake during your shift, but allows you to sleep like a log when you get home. Let’s suss out the available options while working the graveyard shift.

As you read this post, I’m sure there are some things on this list you have no idea about. But don’t be scared. Let’s explore these options, where to buy them and why they are worth giving a go at 4am. This post will first explore the drinks containing caffeine, then the options which don’t. 

If you’re more of a video watcher, here is one for you!

Caffeinated Night Shift Energy-Boosting Drinks
**Note: These drinks should be avoided 6 hours before sleeping

A Cup of Joe (Coffee)

I thought I’d kick things off with the most common, popular choice among night shift workers. Coffee. 

Coffee is often demonized where the night shift is concerned as it can delay our sleep later on. This is unfortunately true for the lovers of coffee and why most recommend switching to something else you will find in this article after midnight.

If you like numbers, switching to something non-caffeinated 6 hours before sleep is a good rule of thumb as caffeine can hang around in our bodies for up to 12 hours. See “10 Night Shift Survival Tips to Stay Healthy and Not Get Sick” for more info.

Despite coffee being a stimulant, it’s not all bad and actually has some pretty neat qualities. 

Coffee drinkers can enjoy the following health benefits thanks to science figuring out the nitty-gritty: 

  • Coffee can help the body function better due it’s high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols. These little guys reduce stress in the body that help the cells better perform.  
  • Drinking coffee can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, depression and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Coffee can kick start your metabolism after waking from night shift before your next shift
  • Coffee is great for your liver (source)
  • Caffeine can even boost our motivation to exercise. A study in 2018 confirmed that drinking over 1 cup of coffee/tea motivated the participates to exercise for the recommended amount of exercise per day in comparison to those who had less than one cup. (source)

Healthy tips when drinking coffee on night shift 

  • If you like a sweet coffee, use honey or stevia instead of traditional sugar to help eliminate the extra sugar you don’t need.
  • Don’t have more than the recommended amount of caffeine per day. “Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks” (source)
  • Coffee quickly passes from your bloodstream to your brain so organize and complete the jobs which need the most concentration just after drinking it in order to be most effective  

The bottom line with coffee on night shift:
Enjoy a cup or two before the shift starts but stop drinking it 6 hours before you need to sleep. Remember too much coffee may lead to energy loss as the body withdraws from the caffeine.

Death Wish Ground Coffee Opens in a new tab.
(Click to see the coffee perfect for shift workers via Amazon.com)

Sneak Energy

We get it. Energy drinks are attractive for shift workers running on little sleep. Why? Because they are certain to give us a kick, they are found everywhere at any time of day or night and they taste yum.

If you’re on the energy drink train and don’t mind the odd Red Bull or Mother, listen up, because I think I’ve discovered a new energy drink you’re going to love.

Sneak Energy, which was established in 2018, offers a range of products to help give you sustained energy whilst also keeping you hydrated. Here are my favorite parts about it;

  • 150mg of caffeine per serving (the average adult can have up to 400mg before the jitters start, which is about 4-5 cups of coffee a day. A Red Bull for example is 80mg per 250ml can)
  • Zero sugar
  • 15 different flavours to choose from
  • Full of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals
  • No artificial colors or flavorings (so welcome to a sustained energy boost with natural flavours!)
  • Good value
  • The packing looks great – agree doesn’t impact the taste but it’s cool don’t you think?
  • All orders over $100 euro are free worldwide

Sneak Energy offers their products in either a canister style or in sachets, it just depends what you buy and the flavor you choose. They also sell a shaker bottle which is handy to take to work as it doesn’t leak – we’ve tested it.

During a night shift, I am forever thirsty, probably due to the air conditioning in the hospital, but Sneak Energy has really helped satisfy my thirst and keep my head in the game.

If you’re interested to take a sip and try it yourself, you can check out their website here.

Green Tea

Do you need something warm but healthy to give you an energy boost after putting down your coffee? Look no further than green tea. 

It is true that green tea still contains a small amount of caffeine to help you make it through a shift, but the special ingredients and antioxidants inside green tea leaves helps reduce stress and inflammation.

This could mean we are given a more gradual energetic transition and not the “hit” we feel with coffee. People also say they feel less “jittery” but still energetic when comparing green tea to coffee and even energy drinks. 

I also recently learned about L-theanine or more commonly known as “theanie”, which is found in green tea. This protein has so many health benefits that we would be here all day listing them, but as a summary, it can lower your risk of heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.  (source)

Green tea is cheap, easy to prepare and can be enjoyed both hot and cold. Take a browse through the local grocery and check out the abundance of flavors to delight your pallet.

I suggest making your own brew at home rather than buying the bottled iced tea varieties. Those brands are loaded with sugar defeating the whole purpose of “being healthy” if that’s your goal here.  

Brewing Tip: Water temperature is key when brewing green tea. While there are some tricky ideas to make the water cooler you could simply just wait a few minutes.

The ideal temp range for green tea is 140°F – 185°F. Anything above this range will leave you with a very bitter, unpleasant taste. For most green tea varieties letting it “steep” or sit for 1-3 minutes is ideal but can vary depending on desired taste. (source)

The bottom line with drinking green tea on night shift…
If you want a hot beverage to give you an energy boost with added health benefits – green tea is a great option. Drink between meals and not with meals to maximize absorption, but limit drinking it about 2-3 hours before bed due to the caffeine content.

T2 Tea – Greatest Greens Assorted Tea Sampler
(This is my go-to green tea brand as I can NEVER get sick of the flavors – see it here via Amazon)
Night Shift Energy Drinks

Yerba Maté

To be honest. I had never heard of Yerba maté but I think it could really be a great option for night shift workers looking for an energy hit. Plus, it’s also commonly called “mate” which binds well with my Australian heritage.

What is it?

  • Yerba maté is a plant native to South America. The twigs and leaves of this tree are dried, typically over fire and brewed in hot water to make herbal tea. You can drink it either hot or cold depending on your mood and resources during your shift. 

Why is it good for us?

  • Yerba maté contains many healthy nutrients and antioxidants similar to green tea but some argue it has even more health benefits.
  • Drinkers of this South American delight say it gives them a smoother more sustained energy over the “buzz” commonly felt with coffee.
  • It can make us feel full, meaning we are less tempted to reach for the open packet of chips a co-worker left behind. This feeling of fullness could also be beneficial for those looking to lose weight on night shift as you are less tempted to overeat. See “How Can I Lose Weight Working 12-Hour Night Shifts?” for more inspiration about weight loss on night shift. (source)
  • It can improve our moods. Anything to get me out of my “night shift slump” is welcome in our house!  

What do night shift workers need to be aware of?

  • Like green tea it also contains caffeine so should be limited around 3-4 hours before bed. 
  • Don’t drink it too hot. While the studies are few and far between there are links to getting cancer in the esophagus for drinking it too hot. (source)

The bottom line with drinking Yerba mate on night shift…
Another great option for a warm beverage overnight that can aid with weight loss and energy. However, just be aware of the caffeine component before bed and keep the temperature down when brewing to avoid negative health implications.

Yerba Mate TeaOpens in a new tab.
(Click to see via Amazon.com)
Guayaki Organic Yerba Mate CansOpens in a new tab.
(Click to see via Amazon.com)


Like coconut water (which we will discuss next), kombucha is becoming pretty trendy. You can now find it in all the big grocery stores for a reasonable price making it worth a try. And that’s exactly what we did. 

Dan was introduced to kombucha before me while working permanent nights through a colleague. Being a cautious guy he wasn’t too sure but it wasn’t long before it made its way into the grocery cart on a weekly basis.  

Kombucha is a fermented, probiotic tea which is normally best enjoyed chilled in my opinion. It claims to detoxify, heal and boost your body’s energy level. 

Neither Dan nor I drink coffee but drink a lot of tea and we have found kombucha to be a great way to kick start the day instead of both these other options.

Here are a few other benefits to drinking kombucha for night shift workers:

  • It is available in many flavors so you don’t get bored
  • It’s fizzy so it feels like your drinking soda 
  • Great for your gut health and already struggling digestive system 
  • Boosts your immunity due to the “good bacteria”
  • Kombucha is rich in B-vitamins and folic acid. These ingredients help the body produce and maintain new cells.

What to be aware of when drinking kombucha

  • It contains caffeine, about 2 to 25mg. But the amount is much less than the average coffee which contains about 95mg of caffeine.
  • Most kombucha contains a very small amount of alcohol. This is a natural byproduct of fermentation whenever there are yeasts and sugar present. Interestingly, by law non-alcoholic beverages must contain less than 0.5% ABV which is the case most of the time here.
  • Don’t drink too much as it contains lactic acid. The thought here, despite the risk being pretty slim, is that drinking too much can cause lactic acidosis leading to some harmful health effects.  
  • Be aware of added sugars. Aim for one less than 5grams of sugar or less per serving.
  • Check the serving size. Some brands squeeze in a second serving size when you may only think it has one. We generally buy x1 bottle each to last for about 5 days. 

The bottom line with drinking Kombucha on night shift…
Due to the tiny bit of alcohol present in the fermenting process, kombucha may not be appropriate for work. However, most brands are deemed “non-alcoholic” if under 0.5%, as most kombucha is. Keeping your kombucha in the fridge will stop further fermentation increasing the alcohol level.

The Kombucha Shop Kombucha Brewing Kit Opens in a new tab.
(Why not save money and have some fun while making your own? See it via Amazon)
Kombucha | Night Shift energy drinks
Synergy” Kombucha is a brand we are trying currently. Good flavor, refreshing but a touch too much sugar. Around 8-10g (we are aiming for 5mg and under). Click to view prices on Amazon.

Non-Caffeinated Night Shift Energy-Boosting Drinks
These drinks can be enjoyed right up until bedtime

Coconut Water

Coconut water, commonly known in Thailand as “nature’s sports drink” is getting pretty trendy. Seeing people drinking out of mini, foiled-lined bottles seems to be everywhere – even at local music festivals!   

This coconut water variety is SO popular on Amazon.

The difference between this health craze and other drinks you see around is that this one is delicious, refreshing and also happens to be good for you. 

Coconut water is packed with high levels of potassium (more than 4 bananas in fact!), minerals and other health-boosting ingredients most people, especially night shift workers, don’t get enough of. 

The water typically comes from young coconut about 6-7 months of age, although there are some varieties of coconut water available from a fully mature coconut which takes 10-12 months to develop. These young coconuts provide about 0.5–1 cups of coconut water each.

Here are a few reasons why they are so great for night shift workers:

  • Low in calories
  • Naturally free of fat and cholesterol
  • Incredibly hydrating
  • You can drink it by its self or blend it with banana (also linked to giving us energy) and blueberries for a tasty smoothie. (Obviously, the blending will need to be done before work as most tea rooms don’t have a blender you can use).
  • You may feel less full, bloated or nauseous post drinking coconut water overnight in comparison to other drinks. As our digestive system slows overnight, this is a welcome change. (source)   

The bottom line with coconut water on night shift…
Like anything, don’t over-do it when it comes to drinking coconut water. Despite being healthy, one 11-ounce container has about 60 calories, and this can add up if you’re drinking several throughout the night.

SuperGreen TONIK

We have discovered a new green juice called “SuperGreen TONIK” and we love it! Why? We have a few reasons which you can find inside our detailed but easy-to-read review with a handy discount code inside.

I know you might be a little suspect on a green powder but this is different. It’s not full of anything nasty, tastes reasonable and has free shipping within the US.

Often night shift workers don’t consume enough fruits and veggies. There are lots of reasons for this such as lack of motivation to prepare fresh meals, insufficient time to visit the grocery store and also health being deprioritized due to sleep deprivation…

So to make this whole thing easier, we adopted a “no juicing” “no fuss” method by drinking Organifi Green Juice. 

We are generally not into these health food, “superfood” crazes but we have experienced positive changes in our health since drinking this daily and it’s shifted the way we think about these types of health supplements.

This is not a meal replacement or crazy diet, it is simply a way of “filling the gaps” to what you might have missed in your night shift diet.   

We highly recommend this product because it’s suits us perfectly while working an irregular schedule. 

The bottom line with drinking green juice on night shift…
If you’re looking for a powered greens option you can simply put in your bag with no juicing, peeling or cutting required, HumanTONIK is worth a shot.

Homemade Green Juice

If you’re not into the powdered type and you prefer to be a bit more hands-on, try making homemade green juice to take into your shift. 

Some green veggies are renowned for having energy-boosting qualities like:

  • Kale
  • Spinach (also a great source of iron to help us focus)
  • Chard or swiss chard (green leaves with purple stalks is how I think of it)
  • Watercress 

They are also packed with lots of vitamins such as A, C, E, and K, and are all low in calories and high in fiber which is great for our gut health.

Leafy greens also keep our brains sharp, bones strong, heart-healthy and bodies functioning smoothly. All the qualities we are desperate for when working the night shift. 

Tips for Night Shift Workers:

We always recommend to eat your main meal before you leave for work and as closely aligned to “normal” as possible. See “When Should I Eat on Night Shift?” for more information.

Then throughout the night restrict yourself to eating only, filling small snacks. This green smoothie could replace one or at least a few of these snacks and give you an even better energy boost on most occasions. 

It does take some prep time in rinsing, cutting and preparing all the veggies, but you’ll love yourself come 4am when you need an energy booster. There will be tea room food (and drink) envy for sure!

As a recipe suggestion try juicing the following together with ice prior to leaving for a shift and bring it along with you: 

  • 2 cups of spinach (about 3 handfuls)
  • 2 cups of kale (about 6-8 leaves)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • ½ a cucumber
  • ½ a cup of lemon juice 
  • 4 stalks of celery

Find the recipe here.

As a way of transporting your drinks and smoothies, we recommend checking out our shift work tools page here. You’ll find many reasonably priced products we use and love, to make sure there are no spills! 

At the end of the video below, I show you how to make the perfect pick-me-up green smoothie you’ve got to try next night shift.


Along with the healthy green veggies, we can’t forget about the fruits!

Fruits can often be blamed for weight gain due to the sometimes high natural sugar content, but as a night shift worker, I think we have bigger issues than this… Unless of course, you’re extreme training and under the direction of a strict diet and coach. But in my experience, those night shift workers are few and far between.

These fruits are proven to give us a boost when we need it are:

  • Acai berries – These little bundles can boost our metabolism, give us energy and assist us in losing weight. 
  • Bananas – They will indirectly give you energy through the fiber controlling your blood sugar level.
  • Avocados
  • Apples
  • Berries – dark berries, Golgi berries, acai berries, strawberries.
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Passionfruit


There are literally hundreds of recipes online for you to create a masterpiece with these fruits. Choose ones in seasons to save a few dollars and remember to stick your juice in the fridge once you get to work. 

Homemade is always better as there are less added sugars and hidden ingredients because you made it yourself.  

Don’t forget about the beets!

Before I forget, beetroot is also an amazing energy booster and makes a mean energy kick when mixed with berries, wheatgrass, carrots, cucumbers and celery.

Another recipe is a small beetroot, a banana, strawberries, half an avocado, spinach and a cup of almond milk (or normal cows milk if that’s what’s in the fridge).

Beets help our bodies use oxygen more effectively and can assist in lowering blood pressure. But are often forgotten about because they can create a bit of mess. (source)

Weight Watchers (WW) Idea on Juicing…
According to WW, “research shows that liquids don’t promote the same feeling of fullness as solid foods do”. By taking away the need to physically chew it may impact on the signals your brain and belly are sending to each other. What this means is the smoothie or juice you’re drinking may not have the same “I’m full” effect as what eating a piece of whole fruit might have. (source)

Ginger Root Tea

I often associate ginger tea mixed with lemon when I’m feeling a little under the weather and not so much with giving me an energy boost, but it seems ginger is helpful in more ways than one. 

But like a lot of herbal medicines, ginger is not completely understood. One research study said, “the lack of a complete understanding of its mechanisms of action suggests caution in its therapeutic use.”

But as a general guide, here are some potential health benefits to drinking ginger root:

  • Reduces pain, inflammation and headache
  • Prevents cramping and relaxes muscles 
  • Prevents nausea and processes food
  • Stops you from getting sick and boosts your immune system. Antioxidants which fight against the stress substances wreaking havoc in our cells
  • Improves blood circulation which helps the nutrients and oxygen move around your body

How can we drink it?

  • Ginger water
  • Ginger tea

If you simply walk down the health food aisle on the grocery store you’ll see a lot of products (such as these delicious and really popular ginger tea bags) that contain ginger or artificial ginger flavor, but stick to the real stuff. It will give you the most health benefits and it’s easy to prepare.  

How do you make it? 

  1. Boil the water on the stove
  2. Add thin slices of ginger
  3. Then once boiled pour the water in a tumbler for you to take to work and add lemon and honey. Some also recommended turmeric and fresh mint. 

See below for a quick video on how to make ginger water to take to your next shift. 

Water (+ or – Bubbles)

I know I left the best till last…

From my experience when working the night shift, nothing does the job of plain water straight from the tap.

It may seem boring but I never get sick of the taste, because there isn’t one and it doesn’t come with any risks… Unless you drink more than 27-33 ounces (0.8-1.0 liters) of water per hour. (source)

On night shift I need something easy and straight forward and this is why a bottle of water ticks the boxes for me. But change is as good as a holiday and why I gave the options I did above. 

In regards to drinking water here are a few options to make it a little more interesting:

  • Add bubbles! Using a soda stream can not only make the drinking experience a little more fun, but it can also make us feel full. I go into more detail here in our post about intermittent fasting  
  • Add fruit. Lemon, lime, pineapple and also mint are tasty additives

Need something to keep you water cold? We use the BEAST Tumbler. I have the bigger size but they also have a small size too. Check out our video review below and see if it will work for you.

What About Energy Drinks?

Look around any shift working tea room or read any online night shift forum and you’ll read about or see a can of energy drink.

So why haven’t I added them to the list of recommended beverages?

There are a few major reasons why I think you can make a better choice while working the night shift:

  • Large amounts of caffeine can cause serious heart and blood vessel problems like heart rhythm disturbances
  • Minimal other added health benefits besides an energy hit
  • Energy drinks provide you with a nice boost but also reduce the steadiness of the hands. 
  • Energy drinks are linked with higher levels of anxiety, sleep problems, digestive problems, and dehydration.
  • Often energy drinks are packed with sugar which is not only bad for the waistline but can lead to a sugar slump later in the shift. 

Also if all that wasn’t enough, according to a recent study done by the Journal of the American Heart Association, they concluded that,“Drinking 32 ounces of an energy drink in a short timespan may increase blood pressure and the risk of electrical disturbances in the heart, which affect heart rhythm” (source)

Bottom line: Drinking energy drinks on night shift…
Like everything, energy drinks are okay in moderation. Stick to the smaller size as our bodies simply don’t need the “extra-large” can. Limit mixing energy drinks with alcohol (especially on the job) and choose the sugar-free option where possible.


In summary, what Should I Drink on Night Shift? 10 Energy Boosting Beverages Everyone goes through a period where “they just aren’t feeling it”. Life happens, lack of sleep gets in the way and you’ve still got to perform to your best when working your upcoming night shift.

Finding a drink that gives you an extra kick is possible in the above list, but as we say, don’t take something that will impact your sleeping pattern at the time you get home. There are plenty of options that will have you “fired up” for the time you need it, but also help you wind down when the time comes.

What do you drink when working night shift to keeping you rolling? Should we add something else to the list of options above?


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Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

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