Caffeine craze pushes students through finals

Molly Doyle, sophomore in veterinary medicine, studys for finals with a cup of black coffee at the student-filled Starbucks on Dec. 10, 2015. (Regan Tokos | The Collegian)

With finals week looming, the level of caffeine in students’ systems seems to rise as their amount of sleep falls.

“I’m often up a lot later and trying to get up a lot earlier during finals week, so I find that I drink tea multiple times in a day,” Michaela Richards, senior in public relations, said.

Plenty of students seem to have habits like this, but when is enough, enough?

“After further researching this topic, I found that the maximum limit of caffeine a person should intake a day is 400 milligrams,” Jenny Yuen, Lafene Student Health Center health educator, said. “This is around four cups of brewed coffee a day or two energy shots.”

As far as caffeine intake goes, there are several benefits and a few drawbacks.

According to Yuen, the pros of caffeine include memory improvement, decreased fatigue, an increase in mental functioning and a quicker reaction time.

There are only a few cons from reasonable caffeine use, but according to Yuen, “a prolonged use of anything is not the best.”

One con is that if an individual already has high blood pressure, caffeine can increase the risk of heart disease.

“There are actually a lot of teas that I will drink that are decaf or even help me sleep, but I usually have a nice cup of tea to boost my spirits or wake me up in the morning,” Richards said. “Herbal teas like green tea can help boost your metabolism, too. However, too much caffeine makes me extremely jittery and lightheaded. I have to monitor how much I drink.”

Yuen suggested that instead of soda, regular coffee and tea, or energy drinks, an individual could drink lighter-brewed tea, half-caf or decaf coffee, all of which have an increasingly lower amount of caffeine in them.

“These substitutions still allow for the intake of caffeine, but at a much lower and healthier level,” Yuen said. “While most people think decaf coffee is completely caffeine-free, in reality it still has about 5 percent of the normal amount of caffeine.”

While drinking products with caffeine is popular, it only provides for a short-term solution.

Brittany Haynes, sophomore in hospitality management, said she tried to pull all-nighters last semester to study for finals with the help of a lot of caffeine. According to Haynes, her tired mind and body didn’t do very well on her finals, so she decided that studying earlier and being well-rested was the better option.

“I really want to drive home the fact that caffeine gives a temporary buzz and doesn’t provide as much benefit as most think,” Yuen said. “The key to success is to get a good night’s rest, have good time-management skills and drink plenty of water instead.”