College Survival Without Excess Caffeine…Can...

College Survival Without Excess Caffeine…Can It Be Done?

If there was a school supply list for college students, it’s very likely that caffeine would be at the top of the list. Caffeine in its various forms – coffee, tea, energy drinks, and energy supplements are a college student staple. All night study sessions, graveyard shifts and lack of sleep all lead to caffeine as a solution for an energy fix.

Who relies on caffeine?

About 50% of 18 to 24 year olds, typically college aged adults, consume coffee. In addition, males between the ages of 18 and 34 years consume the most energy drinks. Similarly, approximately 64% of millennials aged 18 to 26 are consuming energy drinks, leveling up with older millennials, ranging from ages 27 to 37. It’s safe to assume that millennials, which includes college aged adults, rely heavily on caffeine and all its energy giving glory.

Is too much caffeine a bad thing?

 Although people are aware of caffeine’s side effects, remaining oblivious is often the easier option for the time-consumed College student. Some severe side effects caused by caffeine include: anxiety, due to increased alertness and the triggered release of adrenaline. Excess amounts of caffeine can also nervousness and jitteriness from the similarly induced anxiety. High blood pressure and rapid heart rate also occur with large amounts of consumption of caffeine, but can be temporary. Caffeine can also inhibit insomnia when consumed late in the day. Digestive issues, loose stools and diarrhea are some of the not-so-fun side effects of too much caffeine, taking caffeine’s natural laxative properties a step too far.

Addiction to caffeine is also a side effect of high caffeine intake. Psychological and physical dependence on caffeine is a very real thing. There’s a reason why you get a headache when you missed your morning coffee. And surprisingly enough, excessive caffeine can result in fatigue when the body wears out.

Of course caffeine isn’t everyone’s cup of tea *pun intended* which is why moderation in caffeine consumption is key in reducing any side effects. Some natural alternatives include: B vitamin rich foods and supplements, B6 and B12 specifically. Some examples of B vitamin rich foods include: eggs or nuts and seeds which you can quietly munch on while listening to lecture. In addition to vitamins, proteins can also help boost your mood, improve concentration and supply but also maintain energy levels through similar foods such as eggs and nuts. What’s better than caffeine? One of human’s most basic needs, that’s right, water. Dehydration can cause lack of energy and fatigue so making sure you stay hydrated by drinking water can make all the difference.

I’m a college student, what do you expect?

Long night studying, finishing assignments or working to pay bills does drain a person. Sleep schedules are often nonexistent, but it is always important to practice self-care. Allowing your body to rest through sleep is essential even if you eat a healthy diet, drink lots of water, and think you can take on the world.

Taking naps often help when you can’t squeeze in a full 8 hours and remembering that taking care of your physical and mental well-being is key to any college success.

If that Starbucks Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte is calling your name, go for it, but remember, in the end, it shouldn’t be your only driving force for late night studying. Time management might be something you want to work on; and guess what? It doesn’t cost $4.50 and leave your body with the jitters. It does take time, patience and determination, but in the end, you’ll sleep better, so you do you, boo boo.


About Lesly Guzman

Current college student at NEIU in Chicago, Illinois, future psychologist that serves the world. Self proclaimed Xicana and also feminist (an oh so controversial topic in today's world). I am majoring in psychology with a minor in child advocacy studies and plan to work with minority adolescents and children. Topics of importance to me range from inner city violence (present in Chicago), the importance of funding education (or lack of in my institution's case), to issues of identity, what it means to be a first generation college student, religion and culture, along with the utter most important topic of mental health. I challenge myself in my learning, in my views, and hope I may do the same in a positive manner for those I reach. I plan to help change the world one day, even if it takes a lifetime.