A typical day for a student attending Leesville Road High School begins at the crack of dawn. Around 6:00 a.m., alarm clocks all over North Raleigh indicate that it is time to roll out of bed.
Grabbing a cup of coffee, a soda or an energy drink seems like the only option to perk up a sleep-deprived teenager.
But what effect does the caffeine have on students as they go through their day? Different studies have conflicting results.
For some students, filling their bodies with caffeine is the perfect remedy for exhaustion. By the end of first period, they feel energized and ready to tackle the day.
Andrew Bowers, senior, drinks a Coca Cola everyday before school to jump start his day. He says that after drinking his coke, he feels “ready” for school.
After a long day at school, Bowers feels like he does not crash from the caffeine he had consumed earlier. However, he pointed out that sometimes he becomes “too hyper to concentrate” and jittery.
Cassie Seale, junior, limits her coffee intake to around 3 cups a week. “Before school, I drink it to wake up. I feel energized until about second period, then I’m super tired again,” she said.
Seale pointed out that drinking coffee in the morning can sometimes make her stomach hurt if she does not eat enough for breakfast.
According to the Broadneck Tribruin, drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks has a negative effect on the brain. One cup of coffee can initiate a vicious cycle not easily overcome by the consumer.
The process goes a little something like this:
The caffeine consumed from drinking coffee or tea causes excess neuron activity in the brain. This leads to a burst of adrenaline which heightens the senses, making the consumer feel wide awake.
Soon following, the central nervous system is overstimulated, causing a release of stress hormones. These hormones are useful when completing a task, but if the consumer spends the day sitting at a desk, the adrenaline coursing through the veins can make the body feel unnecessary stress.
This added stress will later leave the consumer’s body feeling just as tired, if not more than the first time. Human instinct says to reach for another cup of coffee, restarting the vicious cycle.
According to the Sleep Foundation, only 15% of teens get more than 8 hours of sleep on school nights. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that teens need 8.5-9 hours of sleep every single night.
By drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks in moderation (less than 100 mg of caffeine, or one cup of coffee, per day), the caffeine acts as a stimulant to help teens make it through their long, sleep-deprived days. However, it is still important for them to establish healthy sleeping patterns, which means at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
But 8 hours of sleep in one night for a student in high school is almost unheard of. With the loads of homework assigned every night, there is no time for sleep.
Many students rely on energy drinks such as Redbull or Monster to wake up in the mornings. Some even take energy shots like Five Hour Energy.
While energy drinks may increase energy and mental alertness, speed up one’s metabolism, and in some cases, provide vitamins, they also have negative effects effects on the body.
Dehydration and sleep deprivation are just a few the moderate side effects of energy drinks. But in extreme situations, these drinks can cause heart attacks and even death for those who cannot handle the powerful energy booster.
If students feel the need to drink coffee or energy drinks before their day starts, they should be sure to watch how much they consume. However, teenagers should never rely on caffeine to conquer their poor sleeping habits.
Even with all the known side effects of coffee, soda, and energy drinks, teenagers continue to make the drinks a part of their daily routine.