Stimulating Stimulants

Coffee-BeansFinals are finally over and hello to Christmas vacation! School can get pretty rough and rushed, especially during the end of each semester. To have one more cup or not to have one more cup, that is a rhetorical question.

Most university students consume coffee regularly and some turn to other stimulants in order to alleviate the stress and the workload. I was curious so I looked into some facts about coffee and energy drinks.

This morning as I wake up from my good nine hours of sleep at around 7 am (since my biological clock was still not caught up with vacations schedule yet), I surprisingly felt a sudden headache and dizziness that I haven’t felt in so long. Upon realizing I am in break, I went back to sleep and ending up waking up again four hours later! Since today was my relaxing day, I decided to read some of the books that I left off since final season started, but instead, I found myself napping several times. So in brief, I slept the equivalent of two third of my day! What is really going on with myself?

Well, it all started around a month ago, when I just found out that I have three assignments due on the last day of classes. I knew my schedule would be very tight and I would have to work extra time in order to finish my assignments on time and save some days for studying for finals. Struggling between attending classes, catching up on course materials, working on assignments, I could not help but to increase my amount of caffeine.

So I looked up some coffee facts. Coffee contains caffeine, and caffeine on its own is not too bad. It’s a mild stimulant that primarily blocks adenosine receptors, whose function is to convey drowsiness to the body. The lethal dose of caffeine is the equivalent of 100 cups of coffee a day.

I also had to turn to the help of the Monsters. That’s right, I turned to energy drinks. Some of us swear by them while others swear to stay clear. Serendipitously I also came across this report regarding energy drinks published by UC Davis. [http://www.nutrition.ucdavis.edu/content/infosheets/fact-pro-energydrinks.pdf]

Energy drinks often contain guarana (a plant high in caffeine), taurine (compound that can be found in bile and muscle), and many other herbal substances. There is insufficient evidence regarding any real benefits of from any of the ingredients, and the doses are not high enough to achieve any beneficial or adverse effects. We associate energy drinks with energy and boosts, so it’s entirely plausible that we put ourselves under the placebo effect. We think it gives us a boost.

Be informed. Happy holidays.

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