On caffeine: Do the studying benefits outweigh the potential health risks?

Cheyanne Crum, Staff writer

College students experience the perfect combination of precariously perched assignments, red-eyed “cram sessions,” horrible dietary habits, and sleepless nights of homework.

Caffeine is one of the staple ingredients that allows for this insanity that is considered “the best four years of our lives” to continue without complete meltdowns.

I will be the first to admit that I am addicted to caffeine. If I do not have some sort of caffeinated beverage throughout my day, I get massive migraines.

As a college student, caffeine has become an even bigger friend of mine than it was in high school. Since I see many of my peers and classmates carrying coffee cups or energy drink cans, I am clearly not alone in this.

Everytime I enter the bookstore between classes, there is a line, sometimes out the door, leading straight to the coffee counter. This drug of choice is essential in our diets.

The brain requires energy and a steady supply of sugar to function, just like any muscle in the body, according to healthguidance.org.

This means that caffeine is able to help to wake you up and help you function during that 8 a.m. class you came to after rolling out of bed at 7:55 a.m.

As with most things that taste good, caffeine comes with health risks.

Caffeine is considered to be a drug because it alters performance and is addictive. According to secondscount.org, it is actually recommended to only consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. (The average cup of coffee contains 95-200 miligrams).

Unfortunately, in college, students tend to overlook the bad and focus on what they can get done with their midnight energy drink fix.

Thomas Cook, Ph.D., chair of the Public Health department, said in an email that some of the health effects that are associated with caffeine usage can include negative effects on a student’s sleep cycle and chronic dehydration.

Medical research has shown that health problems associated with high concentrations of caffeine are increased heart and blood pressure and heart palpitations, according to secondscount.org. One study actually showed that 19 percent of college students that drink energy drinks experienced heart palpitations.

Cook noted that there are few studies that “have found a direct biological link between increased caffeine [use] and specific health outcomes.”

While keeping in mind the “indirect effects of overuse,” that Cook states “may be equally important,” I personally find myself in support of the use of caffeine.
If I can get all the homework that I need to get done in a day with the help of a cup of coffee or an energy drink, then that is a pretty good day.