How can caffeine affect students?


Jalena Forrestdavis

Study finds that over 92% of college students consume caffeine daily. The study said the three top reasons students drink caffeine were to feel awake, to enjoy the taste and for the social aspects of consumption.

Teralyn Perez, a 20-year-old veterinary technology major, said she drinks three to four cups of coffee a week.

“I feel like I drink about a good amount, not too much coffee,” Perez said.

Perez said her caffeine intake affects her in a positive way.

“It makes me more happy, more energized, it gives me the ability to do more,” Perez said.

Like Perez, more than 92% of U.S. college students consumed caffeine on a daily basis, according to a 2019 study by the National Library of Medicine.

Seventy-nine percent of the students in the study said they drink caffeine to feel awake.

JC Morais, a 20-year-old digital media major, said he drinks around 200 milligrams of caffeine every day.

“I’ve kind of lost track if it affects me,” Morais said. “I would say it does kind of wake me up or at least it makes me think I’ve been woken up a little bit and I can get about with my day.”

College Nurse Michelle Barkley said caffeine has short-term effects such as increased alertness and wakefulness, but has long-term effects that are not good for a college student’s body and mind.

“It can perk them up for that little bit of time, but caffeine actually at the end of a day, it’s a stimulant that turns into a depressant so to speak,” Barkley said. “You peak and then it weans off and then it makes you even more tired than originally.”

Barkley said having too much caffeine in one day can cause jitters, anxiety and sleep disturbance. She added that moderating your caffeine intake is key to handling the addiction and its effects.

Barkley said she would recommend the limit of caffeine intake to be one cup of coffee or 100 milligrams for one day.

“If you can go no cups, that’s ideal,” Barkley said. “But if you are gonna drink something try not to go beyond 100 milligrams a day.”

Nutrition Professor Serena Fuller said caffeine can be a performance enhancer and help students focus.

“The typical responsible intake of caffeine can be helpful for students,” Fuller said. “I would recommend the plant-based sources so those are coffee and tea and not sodas and energy drinks.”

Fuller said caffeine can impact a student’s nutrition by a reduction of appetite and interruption of sleep.

“It can temporarily reduce appetite,” Fuller said. “If you consume it kind of later in the afternoon because of its half-life, how it gets metabolized, it can make you not get good sleep.”

“Generally, there’s two and a half to four and a half hours of life of caffeine in the body so you want to try and drink it at least four hours before you go to sleep,” Fuller said.

Twenty-three-year-old biology major Mey Kem said sometimes she buys a Starbucks triple shot drink on campus from the vending machines.

Kem said drinking caffeine during her class can affect her sleep schedule.

“Sometimes it will affect my sleep because the times I do drink it is in the middle of lecture which is like 5 p.m., so I won’t sleep until maybe 2 a.m.,” Kem said.