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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Caffeine costs students more than cash

With finals just around the corner, many students rely on different forms of caffeine to keep them feeling alert and focused into the wee morning hours. But too much caffeine could drag their schoolwork down.

“”I got too dehydrated and was basically out of commission for five days this semester,”” said Sean McConaughey, a theatre production sophomore.

McConaughey said his caffeine addiction started during his sophomore year of high school, when he used to drink two Monster energy drinks each day. After he fell ill and was stuck in bed as a result of his energy drink habit, he switched to Coca-Cola, orange soda and the occasional coffee.

“”I was pulling two and three all-nighters a week and I was drinking three to four energy drinks a day and not hydrating, and it just broadsided me,”” he said. “”It hit me with dehydration and the flu. The doctor told me I shouldn’t drink caffeine.””

Despite the warning, McConaughey drinks about a liter of Coke daily. He says it doesn’t give him a wired or jittery feeling; it keeps him awake and focused.

“”Yes, I am addicted to caffeine, but out of the things I can be addicted to it isn’t all that bad,”” he said.

McConaughey spends around $14 each week on caffeine products, down from the $40 he used to spend when he drank Monster every day. However, he said it’s a  necessity if he wants to do well in school.

“”Really, I need it to function and maintain grades and the work required for my major. If I cut out caffeine completely there’s no way I could complete all my assignments and continue at the U of A. I’d either be on probation or kicked out pretty quickly,”” he said.

Caffeine has positive and negative effects, said David Salafsky, director of Health Promotion and Preventive Services.

“”In moderation, caffeine is not necessarily a bad thing,”” he said. “”The issues that people run into are when you overdo it and drink caffeine in excess and when that happens, people get anxious, they might get hyper, it might be hard to focus on things.””

Salafsky said it’s safest to keep the caffeine intake under 300 milligrams per day.

“”Pay attention to what you’re drinking,”” he said. “”If you’re going to Starbucks and you’re buying the larger size beverage … or if you’re drinking energy drinks like Rockstar, that’s going to have more caffeine than a small coffee.””

Some students are only rely on the energy drinks when they need an extra boost for studying.

“”I drink the smallest size Red Bull, usually only when I’m really tired or I really have a lot of studying to do,”” said Stephanie Wilhelm, a family studies and human development junior. “”I try not to depend on it.””

Wilhelm said she started drinking coffee her freshman year of high school and thinks it’s necessary to get all of her schoolwork completed.

“”I think I would never make it to class (without caffeine), I’d get very little studying done and I’d spend a lot more of my time sleeping,”” Wilhelm said. “”For finals I go above and beyond.””

Roni Levy, a family studies and human development junior, said she drinks coffee regularly, but only during the school year and on weekdays.

“”It helps me stay on top of things and make sure I get everything done in a timely manner because I’m so busy with the class load,”” Levy said.

Levy spends $5 to $10 per week on caffeine products depending on her workload and how much sleep she gets, but she doesn’t feel she’s addicted.

“”I feel like there’s long-term effects with anything, but I don’t think I drink enough to where it has affected me yet,”” Levy said.

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