The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Red Bull, coffee and Coke, oh my!

College students thrive on caffeine’s mental benefits. Take one lap around Fondren Library and you will find many hard-working students. Look a little closer, and you will notice that the majority of these students have some sort of caffeine sitting on their desktop within arm’s reach.

Eighty to 90 percent of adults and children in North America rely on caffeine everyday to stay energized, according to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Like other amphetamines, caffeine shuts down the brain’s blood vessels, stimulating its cortex and producing a rush of adrenaline into the body. The adrenaline rush serves as a temporary “high,” heightening the brain’s mental activity and overall alertness, according to a article.

“Caffeine helps me wake up in the morning and it helps me get through a whole night of studying whereas otherwise I would just fall asleep,” freshman Conner Sherline said.

“If I have a test, I will have green tea, definitely, and definitely another Red Bull or coffee,” junior Alison Parke said.

One single cup of coffee can improve one’s sense of wellbeing, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability, according to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Too much caffeine though may have opposite effects.

“Sometimes when I drink too much caffeine I’m not actually able to concentrate, which is kind of an opposite effect of what I’m using it for,” junior Adele LeGardeur said. “I’ve had nights where I’ve had to stay up all night studying so I drank loads of Coke. I ended up not being able to study, and found myself procrastinating more, looking up Internet sites and not doing any of my work.”

Furthermore, using too much caffeine to study can leave students jittery and initiate heart problems.

“If I drink too much caffeine then I get really jittery and my heart tends to pound a little bit,” said junior and former Starbucks barista Heather Gram.

“As an EMT, I have experience with people who have called 9-1-1 because they are having heart palpitations. Once we’re on the scene and discuss their lifestyle, we’ve found that they’ve downed five or six Red Bulls in one night, trying to study,” trained EMT and SMU personal trainer Mason McCallister said.

McCallister said that although caffeine increases mental processing with short-term use, it actually decreases mental processing in the long run. Studying with caffeine on a regular basis may cause students to develop a dependency on it. Some students find themselves needing more and more caffeine everyday — and not just for studying.

“When I don’t have my caffeine, my mind drifts off and I can’t focus or get anything accomplished,” Sherline said.

Whereas these students feel fine when they have an ample amount of caffeine in their systems, they may suffer withdrawal symptoms when their daily caffeine intake is decreased by the amount equivalent to just one cup of coffee. These withdrawal symptoms kick in within a short six hours of an addict’s last caffeine fix. Regular users wake up feeling groggy – a consequence of the withdrawal their bodies experience throughout the course of the night.

“If I don’t have caffeine, I’ll have a headache or just kind of feel nauseous. The only thing that cures it is a large pot of coffee or some sort of caffeine; It’s terrible,” Parke said.

“The first thing I do when I wake up is drink caffeine or eat something with caffeine in it so I can wake up,” Sherline said. “When I don’t have caffeine, I get really, really, really bad headaches and I’m not a good person to be around.”

Sherline, also a former Starbucks barista, said he had “tons and tons of regulars customers that would come in every morning, just because they were addicted to caffeine just like everybody else.” He said from the moment they would come in, by the time they walked out the door with their coffee, they were already in better moods.

While caffeine may serve as an effective self-improvement stimulant for students, especially when used to study, failing to monitor the amount consumed over time may leave students suffering from withdrawal and failing to reap caffeine’s benefits.

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