College Craving: Caffeine





By Caroline Roffe


After her third alarm goes off, Jamey Seibenberg rolls out of bed and stumbles over to her Keurig coffee maker. Thrusting a cup of French roast under its lever, she waits for the first sip of coffee to start her day.


Like many college students, Seibenberg, a sophomore graphic design major, rarely goes a day without a caffeine fix. She drinks coffee, energy drinks or soda to wake up in the morning, to keep motivated and moving throughout the day and to stay up into the wee hours of the night. She is not alone. Most college students use some kind of caffeine to get through their day, especially during midterms and finals.


“I have heard that caffeine is bad for you but I drink it anyways,” said Seibenberg. “It just tastes so good and it gives me energy.”


Caffeine seems to be an inseparable staple for many college students.


Is it healthy?


Ultimately, caffeine is fine in small doses, beneficial even, but it can be overdone.


Caffeine is a stimulant drug that blocks the effects of the sleep-function brain chemical adenosine. As a result, caffeine causes heart rate to rise and a release of dopamine and energy according to neuroscientist Joaquim Ribeiro.


The limit on caffeine for adults is about 400 mg according to The Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


That’s four bottles of Pepsi.


Or one venti (20 oz.) coffee at Starbucks.


Or two 5-hour Energy shots.


However, everyone processes caffeine differently so its effects may vary.


Students love their caffeine. Morning classes and coffee cups go together like finals and Adderall. The trash cans at the gym overflow with empty Red Bull cans. Students even prep for nights out with energy drinks.


This is the most severe danger of caffeine: mixing it with alcohol. And college students are most at risk. It is a common misconception that alcohol and caffeine balance each other out. Instead, caffeine masks the feeling of drunkenness causing the student to drink more and more to get the buzz they want.


Kendal Solak, a sophomore communications major, claims to be careful when combining alcohol and caffeine. She uses caffeine for more economic purposes.


“I always drink coffee two hours before work so that I have better performance and am more alert,” said Solak. “I love caffeine, it makes my life so much easier.”


Solak balances a full course load, a part-time job and being in a sorority. She credits caffeine for helping her survive on only six hours of sleep a night.


Caffeine can work as a sleep substitute but should only be used as a short term solution according to stress management consultant Elizabeth Scott. Chronic lack of sleep is unhealthy and dangerous.


“Caffeine can sabotage quality sleep by interfering with your body’s rhythms and hamper your ability to fall and stay asleep,” said Scott. “This can become a real problem because it can further convince your body that you don’t need as much sleep as your body in fact requires.”


The effects of caffeine aren’t all bad. Research has found benefits of caffeine consumption.


Both coffee and tea contain antioxidants.


Caffeine lessens neck, shoulder and back pain caused by sitting for long periods of time.


It can even help out at the gym. Caffeine before a workout can enhance performance by improving mood, willingness to invest effort and a stronger resistance to failure training.


It isn’t even all that addictive. Sure, college students who drink coffee every morning will struggle if they quit cold turkey, but it only takes three days to get over the addiction.


“I don’t know about that,” said Seibenburg. “I would probably die without my coffee and my Keurig.”






Healthland Time:


Everyday Health Center:

This workplace study and neck pain:

Caffeine and working out.

WebMD on caffeine addiction:


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