The Final(s) Caffeination

By Hannah Alvarado
Blog Content Contributor

You’ve seen those movies, right? Where someone has the vision of the impending disaster that leads to the character’s untimely and often way too dramatic end? Well, there is something like it lurking in the shadows at most universities. It’s one the modern-day-college-student’s main food groups; it is a stealthy, shape-shifting vigilante that happens to go by many names. Be it soda, coffee, Red Bull, tea, Monster, or even chocolate — it all ends up to be the same thing: caffeine. Now, I love a good cup of coffee before my first class, and maybe a Red Bull during study time, just as much as the next student but around two times a year, I notice that I and every other student around me, is consuming caffeine more than normal. Of course, I mean finals. And while the title of this article may be a really cheesy pun, the reality of what does all that extra caffeine intake do to our bodies is no joke.

According to the American Heart Association, not only can over-caffeination lead to annoying things like ‘headaches,’ it can also lead to ‘dehydration, depression and possibly even coronary heart disease.’ For individuals who happen to already suffer from things like anxiety, those feelings can actually be increased by your caffeine intake, and even those who do not may feel its effects due to the increased heart rate (American Heart Association “Caffeine and Heart Disease” 2017). Two things that definitely don’t go together? Anxiety and exams. If you are wired to the point of anxiety, your mind will most likely not be clear enough to truly perform your best on that test or final project.

On that note, according to an article from the Huffington Post, ‘caffeine consumption after 1:00 p.m. can severely interfere with a student’s sleep,’ which yes, sounds obvious, but the scariest part is that in all the sleep studies they conducted, students had no idea that caffeine was the culprit of their less-than-restful sleep. Most all of them felt completely normal at bed time, but awoke not rested the next morning. (Friedmann “Why Caffeine Is A College Student’s Worst Enemy” 2017). And even though we’ve all pulled an all-nighter, final exam time is not the time to do this.

With all this in mind, the question is then, how much is too much? Well, also according to those brilliant minds over at the American Heart Association, a ‘moderate’ drinker is someone who consumes around “1 – 2 cups [of caffeine] a day” (American Heart Association “Caffeine and Heart Disease” 2017). Of course, the 1-2 serving amount is a generalized one, and every single person is different.

I know we all get stressed out around finals time (believe me I am really aching for a coffee right this very moment) but it’s excruciatingly important to listen to your body and understand your limits in order to prevent possible serious damage in the long term. Depression, anxiety, coronary heart disease — these are all lasting effects of over-consumption that you may have to deal with the rest of your life, just from choosing to over caffeinate. So please, with the knowledge at hand take care of your bodies, and watch your caffeine habit. Otherwise, you can kiss that good grade goodbye, and know that taking the course one time around, may not be your final destination.

Featured image by Hannah Alvarado.

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