During those long nights of studying, students sometimes need to take shots…of caffeine that is.
The campus is surrounded by coffee and teashops, like Starbucks, Tea Spot, the school’s Java Hut and many others. Energy drinks, like 5 Hour Energy, are other alternatives to help students stay awake.
But drinking beverages high in caffeine may cause unwanted symptoms that can make it harder to concentrate for students who rarely drink caffeine. Keyra Chrismon, Health Sciences, can relate. “It makes me feel more anxious,” she says, “ [I drink]Dr. Pepper when I study. I try to avoid drinking coffee or energy drinks”.
“One of the dangers is that there’s not regulation as far as the amount of caffeine in the beverages and it could really vary,” explains PCC dietitian Laurie Gray. “Depending on how much somebody drinks and what the concentration of the caffeine is, they could be getting a really big dose of caffeine which could get them those side effects of feeling anxious, headache and having a rapid heartbeat.”
Symptoms could worsen for students who are not aware of having health problems. “Sometimes people don’t know that they may have some kind of heart ailment and [if] a person takes in a lot of caffeine it can cause them to become very erratic and causes them to go to the ER,” Gray said. “Just that effect of having too much caffeine from such a concentrated amount is probably what makes people feel frightened which might cause them to go to the E.R.”
Local coffee and tea shops offer beverages with less caffeine and allow customers choose how strong they want their drink to be. One nearby shop, AU79 Teahouse, offers a variety of caffeine drinks but specializes more in tea.
Runnie Chen, Teahouse employee, explains, “We can adjust how sweet [the customer] wants the tea. We also advise customers if the tea will be strong. A lot of people don’t know there [are many] different varieties of tea being offered [in our store].”
There are healthy ways to stay energized, Gray said, ” The best advice is to get some rest, there’s nothing you could do to function well in what you’re trying to retain for an exam.”
However, she said some foods will give a feeling of alertness. Food that are good sources of proteins tend to make people more alert than food with concentrated amounts of carbohydrates, Gray said.
“ A lot of pasta tends to make you feel sleepier,” Gray said. “On the other hand if [you] eat something leaner, like some lean chicken or non-fat milk. it can actually increase neurochemicals in the brain that will give [you] more of that feeling of alertness. Just good healthy dietary changes could make a difference.”