Whether it’s Tim Horton’s or Einstein Bros Bagels, many students at Plattsburgh State drink coffee every day to get through their hectic, weekly schedules.
Coffee is a stimulant that can help students get through a late night or an early morning. There are health pros and cons for coffee, and it affects students both physically and mentally.
Senior nursing major Laura Humphrey said she drinks at least one cup of coffee per day.
“I feel like my day can get started because I had a nice cup of joe,” she said.
“The effects of caffeine can last anywhere between six to 10 hours for some individuals,” Angela Durant, an Assistant Professor of Nutrition at PSUC said.
“I’ll drink coffee just because I like it, but when I need to stay awake, I’ll turn to coffee,” PSUC sophomore Julissa Vera said. “The only bad thing is that it’ll keep me awake for a while, but once it wears off, I’ll crash.”
Durant said there are the well-known pros to coffee, such as increased mental alertness, elevated mood and the ability to process information. She said there are studies showing that test scores improve with caffeine or coffee intake.
“I’ll usually drink coffee just in the mornings before I go to work, and then I usually get a coffee on my way back from work and then going to my classes,” senior communication disorders and science major Danielle Savage said.
Durant said phytochemicals, chlorogenic acids and melanoidins are strong antioxidants in coffee that have been known to fight chronic diseases.
“I think a lot of students want to know the ‘why’ of coffee effects,” Durant said. “So, in coffee there is something called phytochemicals, and coffee specifically contains polyphenols, and other antioxidants.”
“Regular to moderate coffee consumption has been linked to a reduction and risk to Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.
Durant also said coffee is linked to the reduction of kidney stones, gallstones, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease and asthma.
“If students are athletes with asthma, coffee can help with lung function,” she said.
Based on an article in the US medical journal, National Center for Biotechnology Information, theophylline is a bronchodilator drug found in caffeine products that is taken to open up the airways in the lungs.
Even as a coffee lover, Durant said there are some negative aspects of excessive coffee consumption.
Durant said sleep disruption occurs more frequently in students who consume an excess amount of coffee.
“If I’m pulling an all-nighter, I’ll drink five or six large cups of coffee,” Savage said.
Anything above 400 mg of coffee per day, which is about five cups of coffee in 24 hours can cause sleep disruption.
“During freshman year, I drank copious amounts of coffee during finals week. I was over-caffeinated, and even after my tests were done, I couldn’t sleep.” Humphrey said.
Buzzfeed experimented with coffee addiction, where an employee named Erin gave up caffeine for a week. Because she drank two to three cups of coffee a day, she went through withdrawal.
According to WebMD, caffeine is a stimulant to the central nervous system, and regular use of caffeine causes mild physical dependence. Withdrawal is a symptom many people go through when they’re “quitting” caffeine.
Savage said she has experienced withdrawal with symptoms of headaches and grogginess.
“It’s a lot like being hungover,” she said.
PSUC senior John Hannon said he drinks a cup of coffee a day, but when finals come, he typically drinks three to four cups a day. Hannon also said he has been through withdrawal.
“I feel depleted and I feel like I have to drink more coffee,” he said.
“I gave it up for a week. You actually feel sick. You think there’s something wrong,” Humphrey said.
Durant said students build up a tolerance, and if they can’t keep it up, they can go through a period of fatigue or even depression, which are withdrawal symptoms.
For Buzzfeed’s Erin, she turned to other sources to stay energized, such as eating more often during the day.
She said the brain has adenosine receptors. Caffeine then binds to those receptors and triggers the adrenaline rush.
“Taper off slowly, and try to prevent consuming so much coffee in the first place,” Durant said.
Another effect Durant said was the increased anxiety students get with consuming too much coffee.
“A lot of students have test anxiety anyway. Couple that with an excess intake of caffeine, and it can make things worse,” she said.
She said if students have a test that morning, they should only have that one cup of coffee, and not two or three. The one cup can increase your alertness.
“I love coffee, and there are definitely benefits,” Durant said. “There are little consequences as long as it’s used in moderation.”
Email Kavita Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org