Most students have used coffee, soda, or energy drinks to caffeinate themselves through an exam, assignment, or just wake up for a long day of lectures. Coffee has become such a staple of everyday life that you can barely go a block before finding a coffee shop. Over half of the buildings on my university campus have at least one location which sells coffee. Every other week, I see an article either praising caffeine for its health benefits or criticizing its side effects. So should you be quitting coffee cold turkey or investing in a machine of your own? Here are some pros and cons to debunk some myths and help you decide.
The reason most people are so dependent on coffee is because it gives them energy. This often translates to better performance at school and work and moderate caffeine intake even improves mental health sometimes.
Con: Stopping caffeine causes withdrawal
Caffeine withdrawal is real and symptoms range for the Monday morning blues to headaches and muscle pain.
Pro: But caffeine is not addictive!
I’ve read many articles proclaiming that caffeine is a drug controlling the sheeple of today, but the widespread belief that caffeine is addictive is just a myth! While it shares some characteristics with addictive substances, caffeine does not lead to the harmful effects and behaviors associated with addictive substances.
Con: Interferes with sleep
Consuming caffeine within 6 hours of your bedtime has been shown to disrupt sleep. Getting enough sleep is already a problem for many students and if caffeine isn’t already part of the problem, it certainly won’t help. (On the other hand, some claim that drinking a cup of coffee before a power nap has great results!)
Pro: Long term health benefits
Contrary to the belief that coffee causes long-term harm to your health, studies have found that regular coffee drinkers had lower risks of cardiovascular disease, liver cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, and more.
Pro: Not just for coffee lovers
Caffeine now comes in many forms for those who don’t enjoy the taste of coffee. You can get your dose in teas, sugary lattes, and even chocolate! But…
Con: Not all caffeine is equal
Most studies about the health benefits of coffee refer to black coffee. The sugar and fat in lattes, sodas, energy drinks, and caffeinated candy bars are not good for your overall health, especially on a regular basis. And while tea has its own benefits, it does not share all the perks of coffee and doesn’t contain nearly as much caffeine.
Pro: Coffee provides a social setting
Getting a cup of coffee or tea is great low-cost activity for a short work meeting or getting to know someone. A friend of mine only started drinking coffee because he was too embarrassed to keep ordering hot chocolate during his coffee meetings at work. Cafes are also a convenient place to study, work, or hang out.
Con: The cost adds up
If you’re buying a beverage every weekday, even if it’s a small black coffee, the cost will add up fast! Making coffee at home is often cheaper but, depending on what type of machine you have and what coffee you buy, your monthly caffeine allowance could surprise you.
There are good points on both sides of the caffeine conundrum, I hope this has helped you make a decision (or at least justify what you’ve already decided) on how much caffeine you want to consume!