Final Story

Your Friend Caffeine Has Been Stabbing You Behind Your Back When It Comes to Studying

By, Olivia Levis

This time of the year at Washington State University is full of great anticipation and excitement for the summer. The school year has been dragging on and the freedom that the summer holds feels so close for students. But there is one thing standing in the way, finals. Finals are a time of the year that all college students dread. Long hours of studying and getting minimal amounts of sleep can result in students looking for other alternatives to get energy and focus. One of the most common ways students stay energized and focused is by drinking caffeine, the most commonly used drug in the United States.

On college campuses caffeine is present almost everywhere a student goes. There are numerous coffee shops which are very popular places to study, as well as energy drinks, such as 5-hour Energy drinks readily available in multiple places for inexpensive prices. These coffee shops become extremely busy during finals. Students rely on caffeine to get through their day and stay awake through the long hours of classes and homework. It is inevitable that the more homework and studying students need to do, the higher amounts of caffeine are going to be consumed. Starbucks intern Loren E. Hagstrom said “It is crazy how many people come to Starbucks and buy multiple drinks, it definitely increases during finals week.”

Caffeine occurs naturally in many plants and foods. If it is taken in moderation caffeine can be a positive thing for one’s health. For example, it increases blood flow in the brain which can cure migraines, and is proven to reduce the risks of diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. College students however, do not always consume a healthy amount of alcohol. Experts suggest that adults should limit their caffeine intake to 400 mg every day, and adolescents should limit their caffeine intake to 100 mg every day.

Caffeine is a stimulant and by drinking large amounts of caffeine can result in anxiety, jitters, headaches, and dizziness. Caffeine also remains in one’s system for a long period of time, as long as six hours. Because of caffeine’s long half life it affects sleep. The caffeine stays in your system and prevents REM sleep which is vital for a healthy night of rest. These are all affects a student does not want to experience while studying for finals. Many students do not know these serious affects of caffeine on their body. Caffeine, instead of helping a student study actually in face puts more stress on the student’s body and mind. People who do not drink coffee and a regular basis and decide to drink coffee for study purposes put large amounts of stress on their heart which can lead to permanent damage if the sporadic consumption of caffeine continues. “I’ve had about six cups of coffee today and will probably have more,” Kelly Grindley, a student studying in the library said “I drink a lot of coffee during finals, more than I want to.”

Many do not realize that caffeine is a drug, and that it is addicting. Many students are addicted to caffeine and when they stop consuming caffeine can suffer from withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include headache, depression, anxiety, and irritability. “If I do not drink coffee I get bad headaches and crave it,” Hagstrom said. This is very common with college students. Chris Jumbo, a student studying at Starbucks coffee shop on Stadium Way said “finals week makes me addicted to caffeine, it’s the only way I get through it.”

Overall, drinking large amounts of caffeine can be very harmful to one’s health and put large amounts of stress on a student’s mind and body. Instead of completely eradicating caffeine from a student’s study habit, using it in moderation would be a smarter choice. It can be effective for studying, if used in moderate, healthy amounts.

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