College Students

College Students: Powered by Caffeiene

Caffeine is no stranger to students at Monmouth University. Dunkin coffee cups can easily be spotted in the hands of several of the University’s students all around campus as they rush to their 8:30 morning classes. From the on-campus coffee shops in Plangere Center to the Rebecca Stafford Student Center, there is no lack of options. Several of us have chugged cans of energy drinks, such as Monster and Red Bull, to stay awake and study during midterms and finals.

Ever since I started commuting at six in the morning from New York for my class every Wednesday, I found myself falling into my old habit of relying on caffeine. With a Starbucks conveniently located on the route to Monmouth, I would justify picking up a cup of coffee by telling myself that it would keep me alert on the road and energized for my class.

Caffeine is an organic stimulant found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants which are derived ingredients of tea, energy drinks, coffee, plants and chocolate. In an article from 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that caffeine is not a replacement for sleep but does in fact make you more awake. The FDA recommends no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. That is just about the amount of caffeine found in four cups of coffee.

During the quarantine, I found myself having a tougher time adjusting to a decent sleep schedule, so I changed my diet. I decided to experiment with my caffeine intake by cutting all ties from it. Since I did not consume energy drinks or soda regularly, I had believed that it would be easy. While those two drinks were easy to eliminate from my life, coffee was not. Within the first week, I found it difficult to concentrate on tasks and had no motivation. Prior to this challenge, I had not thought about how much I often relied on caffeine to make up for the lack of sleep I got or as a main part of my study routine. Breaking habits are always a challenge, but I realized my mistake had been going completely cold turkey.

Anyone who constantly consumes caffeine and suddenly stops will experience caffeine withdrawal. This can cause headache, fatigue, low energy, irritability, anxiety, a lack of concentration, depression and tremors. These symptoms can persist for approximately two to nine days. Caffeine withdrawal is certainly an unpleasant experience and luckily, there are ways to avoid it. Anyone who relies on caffeine daily should improve their sleeping schedule, find alternatives for their cravings, and reduce their intake every week 25 percent according to the American Migraine Foundation.

Eventually by finding new drinks such as smoothies and juices to substitute my caffeine cravings, I had forgotten about coffee temporarily. Once businesses began to open again, I decided to check out local coffee shops. Much to my surprise, I got jittery from a small Irish cream cold brew, which was something I had not experienced in quite some time.

Consuming a significant amount of caffeine has its drawbacks. While it is important to remember to not consume an extreme amount, it is not harmful to treat yourself every once in a while.