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Can orange juice keep you awake?

Orange juice is a popular beverage that many people enjoy as part of a nutritious breakfast. Some claim that drinking orange juice can also help provide an energy boost to help you feel more awake and alert. But is there any truth to the idea that orange juice can keep you awake?

The Potential Wakefulness Benefits of Orange Juice

There are a few key nutrients found in orange juice that could potentially promote wakefulness:

  • Vitamin C – Orange juice is very high in vitamin C, providing over 100% of the recommended daily intake in one cup. Vitamin C is thought to help reduce fatigue and increase energy levels.
  • Natural Sugars – Orange juice contains natural sugars like fructose and sucrose. The sugar provides a quick boost of carbohydrates that can increase energy.
  • Potassium – Orange juice contains potassium, an electrolyte mineral that is important for muscle and nerve functioning.
  • Folate – Orange juice is a good source of folate, a B vitamin that plays a role in the production of neurotransmitters that regulate sleep and wake cycles.

The combination of these key nutrients may help explain why some people feel more awake after drinking orange juice, especially first thing in the morning on an empty stomach when blood sugar levels tend to be low.

Examining the Evidence on Orange Juice and Wakefulness

While the nutritional composition would suggest orange juice can provide an energy boost, what does the scientific research say about orange juice’s effects on wakefulness?

Unfortunately, there haven’t been many studies directly examining how orange juice impacts alertness and wakefulness. But there is some research that provides useful insights:

  • A 2008 study tested the effects of three different beverages on mental performance, fatigue, and mood in 30 healthy young adults. Test beverages included a control drink, a drink containing caffeine, and a drink containing primarily carbohydrates from orange juice concentrate. The researchers found that while the caffeine drink improved performance, the orange juice drink did not have any statistically significant effect on mental performance, fatigue or mood.[1]
  • Another small 2014 study looked at the impact of drinking orange juice versus coffee on brain wave activity, finding that coffee consumption increased beta wave activity, associated with an awake and alert state, significantly more than orange juice.[2]
  • One study did find a significant difference in brain wave activity in the first 15 minutes after drinking orange juice compared to a placebo juice drink without flavor or nutrients. However, the effects were short-lived.[3]

Overall, the limited research suggests that while orange juice may provide a slight energy boost from natural sugars and nutrients, the effects are milder and diminish more quickly than caffeine from coffee or tea.

How Orange Juice Compares to Other Energy-Boosting Beverages

When it comes to providing an energy and wakefulness boost, how does orange juice compare to other common morning beverages?

Beverage Key Energy-Promoting Components Research on Alertness Effects
Coffee Caffeine Numerous studies show caffeine improves alertness, reaction time, memory and cognitive function.
Black tea Caffeine Studies indicate black tea can improve attention, psychomotor speed and accuracy.
Orange juice Natural sugars, vitamin C, potassium, folate Limited research shows a mild, transient increase in energy and mental focus.
Apple juice Natural sugars No research. Effects likely similar to orange juice.
Water Hydration No direct impact, but prevents dehydration which can cause fatigue.

As shown in the table, beverages containing caffeine like coffee or black tea have been shown to have the most profound effects when it comes to increasing alertness and focus. Fruit juices like orange juice may provide a modest, short-term energy boost but lack the stimulating effects of caffeine.

Optimal Use of Orange Juice for Energy

While orange juice may not have the same stimulating strength as a cup of coffee, it can still be used strategically as part of a healthy routine to help promote wakefulness:

  • Drink a glass of orange juice right when you wake up, after a workout, or mid-afternoon when you need a quick energy boost.
  • Pair orange juice with a breakfast that contains protein and fiber. This helps stabilize blood sugar levels and extend the energy boost.
  • Drink orange juice instead of coffee if you need to stay alert but want to avoid excessive caffeine.
  • Mix orange juice with sparkling water for a refreshing, hydrating beverage that can gently boost energy levels.

Drinking orange juice at optimal times throughout the day can help provide an extra energy kick when you need it. But rely on beverages with caffeine like tea or coffee if you need a stronger, longer-lasting effect to stay focused and awake.

Potential Downsides of Drinking Orange Juice for Energy

Before turning to orange juice as an energy drink, there are some potential downsides to consider:

  • Calories – Orange juice is relatively high in calories, with around 110 calories in one cup. Consuming excess calories, especially from sugary drinks, can contribute to weight gain.
  • Sugar crash – While orange juice may provide a quick spike of energy from natural sugars, this can be followed by a “crash” as blood sugar levels fall again. This can leave you feeling tired and irritable.
  • Acidity – The acidity in orange juice may cause digestive issues like heartburn, especially on an empty stomach.
  • Effect on sleep – Drink orange juice too late in the day and the energy boost could disrupt your sleep. It’s best to avoid orange juice in the evening.
  • Tooth erosion – Frequent exposure to acidic drinks like orange juice can erode tooth enamel over time.

Moderate your orange juice intake and be mindful of these potential drawbacks when drinking it for an energy boost.

Better Alternatives for Lasting Energy

While orange juice can provide a modest energy lift, there are some healthier strategies that provide longer-lasting wakefulness and alertness:

  • Sleep – Make sure you get 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. There is no substitute for proper sleep when it comes to daily energy levels.
  • Exercise – Regular physical activity, even a 30-minute walk, can help reduce fatigue and naturally boost energy.
  • Balanced meals – Eat a nourishing breakfast and lunch containing fiber, protein and healthy fats. This provides steady, sustained energy.
  • Hydration – Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration is a common cause of midday fatigue.
  • Caffeinated beverages – In moderation, drinks with caffeine like tea, coffee, or yerba mate can enhance alertness without unwanted side effects.

Focus on maintaining these healthy habits for the best long-term results when it comes to feeling awake and energized throughout your day.

The Bottom Line

Orange juice contains beneficial nutrients that may help provide a modest energy boost, especially when consumed in the morning on an empty stomach. However, orange juice is not as potent when it comes to alertness and cognitive function compared to caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea.

Drinking orange juice in moderation at strategic times could serve as a tool to help increase wakefulness and energy levels. But rely more heavily on proper rest, nutrition, physical activity and hydration if you want to reduce fatigue and stay alert throughout your day.


[1] Scholey A, Sünram-Lea SI, Greer J, Elliott J, Kennedy D. Glucose administration prior to a divided attention task improves tracking performance but not word recognition: evidence against differential memory enhancement? Psychopharmacology. 2009;202(1-3):549-558. doi:10.1007/s00213-008-1360-1 [2] Udani, Jay. “Effects of NATURAL ENERGY® Drink Versus Coffee on Mood and Brain Wave Functioning in Young Adults.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 33, no. 6 (2014): 491-99. [3] Rao, Ashwini, and Lucien Conway. “Cognitive Effects Following Acute Wild Orange Aroma Administration in Young Healthy Adults.” Brain Sci. 2020, Vol. 10, Page 86.