By Kulsum Musani
Starbucks, McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Kindlon Café. You’ll probably notice cups of coffee from all these places in almost every morning class you enter. Students, especially college students drink massive amounts of coffee in order to stay awake in class and get through the day after pulling all nighters. But have you ever wondered about the effects of coffee? Or what exactly it is about coffee that keeps us awake? Can we drink to the level of becoming addicted to it?
The alertness that coffee provides is precisely what makes it so appealing to students. Spending the night writing papers and studying doesn’t allow room for much sleep, making coffee the perfect drink to have to stay awake. According to John Wall, caffeine stimulates the brain by manipulating the same pathways that drugs such as cocaine and heroin do, but with milder effects. A chemical receptor called adenosine binds to other receptors and slows down activity when we sleep.
According to Fit and Health, Caffeine manipulates the brain by attaching to the receptors that adenosine binds to, resulting in the speeding up of brain cell activity instead of slowing down like it normally would with adenosine.
Wall continues to discuss that when this happens, the pituitary gland in the brain releases hormones which produce adrenaline. Adrenaline makes the heart beat faster and the liver release sugar into the bloodstream, resulting in extra energy and the tightening of muscles. All of this work on the part of the brain makes us feel more hyper and awake after drinking coffee.
The energy crash that occurs after that boost of energy, however, is a negative aspect of coffee. This leaves us feeling more tired than we were before; it becomes harder to get through the rest of the day and makes us resort to even more caffeine in the forms of coffee, sodas, and energy drinks.
According to Louise Tremblay, all this caffeine leads to irregular sleeping patterns. As students, we have to maintain a balance between classes, work, family, and maintaining good grades. The variability at this stage in life already plays a role in challenging normal sleeping patterns. The University of Colorado says that taking caffeine in the form of coffee, for example, makes it harder to fall asleep and the quality of sleep is also disturbed.
The main thing to keep in mind is that caffeine is useful once in a while, but making a habit of it lead to serious health problems. When caffeine intake reaches excessive amounts, caffeine intoxication can result, causing disorientation and irregular heart rates. In the long run, it can lead to depression and heartburns.
So the next time you see yourself grabbing a third cup of coffee, take a step back and make sure that you aren’t becoming addicted to it. After all, your health is what matters most.