Caffeine drinkers increase on campus

Credit: Cassie Wallace/Photo Staff Credit: Cassie Wallace/Photo Staff

For many college students, pulling all-nighters becomes a regular part of their lives with increased work but limited time.

Carnegie Mellon students are no exception, especially with the end of semester quickly approaching.

First-year psychology major, Srujana Penumetcha commented, “I see more and more people staying up, since the finals are coming soon.”

Students usually rely on coffee to get through the day after staying up late, trying hard not to fall asleep in classes.

Therefore, coffee is an important part of their lives, Alex Doonan, a first-year civil engineering major, said.

She usually stays up late most days of the week.

“I consider myself as a regular coffee drinker, and without coffee, I am so tired, just not as awake,” said Doonan.

Coffee is also widespread among faculty at Carnegie Mellon.

Coffee is an important part of daily routine, said Jonathan Jarvik, a biology professor at Carnegie Mellon.

“It definitely stimulates me. I drink small cups about 10 times throughout the day,” Jarvik added. “I see my colleagues drink coffee as well.”

Caffeine is proven to be an effective stimulant.

The New York Times recently published an article about the benefits of coffee as a performance enhancer.

Researchers like Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University in Canada support the benefits of drinking coffee.

“Even if you are a regular coffee drinker, if you have a cup of coffee before a workout or a race, you will do better,” Tarnopolsky said in The New York Times.

However, increased dependence on coffee is not without any risk.

If regular coffee drinkers stop drinking, they can suffer from headaches and agitation.

Five years ago, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., recognized the withdrawal condition as a disorder after reviewing decades of studies.

They stated that the higher the caffeine intake, the more likely a patient was to suffer from withdrawal symptoms when stopped drinking coffee.

A biology professor, Carrie Doonan, who called herself a reformed coffee drinker, shared her story of cutting down the coffee intake.

“For 15 years, I drank up to six cups a day and that’s how I got through all the work,” said Doonan. She could tell she was addicted to it, because when she drank decaffeinated coffee, she would immediately get headaches.

Moreover, she explained some psychological effects of coffee on her.

If her coffee appeared less dark or strong than usual, she believed the effects of coffee to be weaker when that wasn’t necessarily true.

With large amounts of coffee everyday, Doonan experienced stomachaches. In addition, she felt more tired with the constant cycle of the coffee and the lack of sleep. Now, she has reduced her coffee intake to two cups a day, replacing it largely with water and tea.

She feels much better and healthier. “My blood pressure is lower than it used to be,” Doonan said.

She drinks coffee at night only if she has to stay up late, but she tries to drink tea instead.

Doonan noted the increased presence of energy drinks among students today.

Energy drinks are said to contain more caffeine and more sugar than coffee, despite claims that they contain healthier ingredients, as well.

Students can easily get them at Entropy+.

Although energy drinks can be helpful, Doonan shared her concerns about them.

“I see maybe 10 percent of my students who drink energy drinks, but I think their effects are short lived. Once the effect wears off, students tend to crash or even oversleep,” she commented.

While Doonan acknowledges that sometimes students do need to stay up late to finish their work, she recommends, like most parents and teachers, sleeping.

“I believe there is a point in the middle of the night where the quality [of work] comes down even with coffee and energy drinks,” Doonan said.

“I can sometimes see in lab reports whether it was an all-nighter one or not.”