Despite misconceptions that caffeine is terrible for you, health professions professor Marty Malcolm said caffeine is fine in moderation, just like most things.
The key word is “moderation.”
“The vast majority of those who use caffeine have it under control, but if you’re drinking two Monsters, or two Ripits, or a 12-pack of Mountain Dew a day, that’s out of control,” he said.
Many students don’t realize how much caffeine they’re consuming.
“I think on campus, obviously we have a lot of people using caffeine, and they don’t understand how much they’re actually taking into their bodies,” he said. “Keep in mind when I say ‘caffeine,’ I mean maybe an eight-ounce cup of coffee. People need to gain knowledge of how much they are taking into their system.”
Walled Lake sophomore Miranda Brunett thinks staying up too late and not getting sufficient sleep are the biggest factors as to why people consume so much caffeine.
“I think people get in this cycle of staying up too late to finish homework or to try to catch up with friends and then having to get up early for classes,” she said. “Too many people think that coffee or energy drinks are a replacement for proper sleep, so they load up on the caffeine to feel better.”
But how much sleep is enough?
Everyone has heard the standard eight hours of solid sleep is enough to keep an adult fully functioning. But that might not always be the case with young adults and college students.
“An adult needs eight hours to function, yes. Some college students are still going through that growth phase, however, so they need a solid eight-10 hours of sleep a night,” Malcolm said. “Staying up until 2 a.m. and then getting up for a 9 a.m. class isn’t going to cut it; they will feel that sleep deprivation.”
Many people turn to caffeine in an effort to avoid feeling tired and sluggish during the day. However, caffeine carries its own set of problems.
“(Caffeine) doesn’t stay in the body very long. It’s a short-acting drug that allows us to concentrate and perform for a short amount of time, and then we have that depression afterward, especially with heavy users,” Malcolm said. “It’s very similar to cigarette addiction; you have a cigarette, and then the effects start to wear off and you get jittery and anxious, so what do you do? You have another cigarette. Caffeine is very similar that way.”
The lack of sleep and the surplus of caffeine also takes its toll on students’ health as the school year goes on.
“As an instructor, I see so many students just get ungodly sick around week eight or nine, because they let themselves get so run down and rely on caffeine to keep them up, and they just can’t do it,” Malcolm said. “They turn to stimulants to keep them awake and it doesn’t allow the body to rest.”