Is Caffeine Really Worth It?
Close your eyes and imagine sitting on your bed with your laptop in your lap. Imagine having multiple tabs open, a textbook open to your right, and notes scattered around you. It’s the final day of exam week. You start to nod off and you grab a coke and start to catch up on some of that reading that you’ve been putting off. Midnight passes, your eyes start to burn, and you yawn every couple of minutes. You shake yourself awake and come to the realization you still have a couple more chapters to read and more notes to review. You also have an essay to finish but you don’t even want to think of that. You brew a pot of coffee and drink two, three cups and you finally pep up. You think you’ve studied sufficiently and feel exhausted but simultaneously hyper and alert. By this time, it’s two in the morning and you start your paper fueled by a college students’ best friend… coffee! Finally, it’s three in the morning and your exhaustion is unbearable. You slip into bed and fall asleep immediately. You don’t wake up or even move until your alarm wakes you at 7 for your 8 o clock class. You roll over in bed with a groan and drag yourself out of bed. You come home after all your classes that day, get into pajamas and binge watch TV. Before you know it, its 3 in the morning and you fall asleep.
In college, almost 70 percent of students fail to get the healthy 8-9 hours of sleep. Some people may say that, sleep deprivation can’t really harm you on a daily basis. In reality, each year drowsy driving causes one million road accidents, 71 thousand injuries, and fifteen hundred deaths! I’ve also heard that long term effects of sleep deprivation aren’t really that serious. But… sleep deprivation can increase your chances of illness in general because of weakened immune system, cancer, strokes, dementia, heart disease, and bone and brain deterioration. Sleep deprivation has been proven to increase the risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia and even cancer. People 18 and over who slept fewer than 6 hours regularly had four times the risk of stroke symptoms.
With regards to Alzheimer’s and dementia, a lack of sleep can cause “brain deterioration,” according to a 2013 study, which may in part explain memory loss in seniors and contribute to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Even in regard to cancer, a 2010 study found that among 1,240 people screened for colorectal cancer, the 338 who were diagnosed were more likely to average fewer than six hours of sleep a night. Getting just six hours of sleep a night has also been linked to an increase of recurrence in breast cancer patients.
And lastly the most common of them all… “Coffee alleviates my need for sleep”. No! Caffeine does not alleviate the need for sleep. Caffeine simply inhibits adenosine in the brain therefore your brain cannot tell itself that it needs sleep. It’s basically the equivalent of taking someone hostage and they keep screaming to get out. If you put a gag on them they’re still screaming through the gag you just can’t hear them as loudly! Ok, that might be a little extreme, but you get the point!
Sleep is often something that is overlooked in high school and it just gets worse in college. I mean sure, staying up late a few nights to watch game of thrones or study won’t kill you, but making it a habit will ultimately be detrimental to your health. In college, the temptation is definitely there to put sleep last on the priorities list…at UCF there is “All Knight Study” and during exam week there is a coffee shop called Joffery’s that gives you cheap coffee so you can stay up all night and study.
I’m not saying that you should go to bed at 8 but maybe try to get an extra fifteen minutes every night. Sleeping after you study will actually help you process and store the information better, so if you have the choice between reading another chapter or sleeping on what you have done, sleeping may be the best way to go. No one is going to be able to go to bed early every single night, but it is something to keep in mind that will keep you sharper, smarter, and safer!
-Adrianne Adkins, Junior, Class of 2018