Coffee Overdose

By Kay Bush
Elm Staff Writer

Let’s be honest; coffee may course through a college student’s veins more than blood. More than once it has saved your life. Whether staying up until sunrise, to finish a paper or to keep you awake during lecture, coffee has been your “go-to” beverage. An extra boost goes a long way. How much coffee is too much coffee? It seems impossible to even think that there’s such thing as too much of it. Apparently there is. Don’t panic though. About two to four cups of coffee is an acceptable amount per day. However, some of the side effects of too much coffee can encourage your worst habits and be detrimental to everyday life.

Caffeine is great for someone who wants to be more focused and alert, but in the long run this initial benefit can turn against them. Insomnia and restlessness are common symptoms of excess caffeine intake. This is likely a result of sleep deprivation, which builds over time. Too much can also cause a chemical imbalance. Melatonin levels decrease drastically for avid coffee drinkers, leading to a disturbance in the circadian rhythm. A person’s circadian rhythm basically controls when they wake up, go to sleep, when to eat, so on and so forth. Dr. Amina Elkassir, a general practitioner specializing in pediatrics, said, “A daily supplement of melatonin would be a great way to keep the body in balance. For people that find giving up coffee right away difficult, this supplement is necessary to maintain healthy sleep patterns.”

Freshman Nick Totis enjoys his coffee from Java George located in Hodson Hall Commons.
Freshman Nick Totis enjoys his coffee from Java George located in Hodson Hall Commons.

Some other unexpected effects of coffee are irritability and anxiety. Since caffeine enhances concentration, small nuances become big deals. The brain is over stimulated and irritability is often a result of it. Anxiety is produced in the same fashion. Hyper-attentiveness can lead to negative thoughts of possible situations. Although these are the main emotional and mental problems associated with excess coffee, there are many; most of which can lead to more serious problems like weight fluctuations, metabolism imbalance, and severe mood swings.

Alternatives to coffee are easily accessible. You’re probably thinking nothing can compare to the rush you get from coffee, but I assure you, it can. Black tea is the strongest of the teas. If you don’t think tea could give the same boost, but think again. A strongly brewed black tea contains as much caffeine as coffee does. The amount of caffeine in tea depends on how long the bag is steeped. Tea is a valid alternative also because it replenishes the body’s fluids unlike coffee, which is a diuretic. It also will keep you alert for a longer period of time. Another efficient alternative is pomegranate juice. It’s known as an energy booster and an effective source of antioxidants. The strong fruitiness and sweetness of this juice is appreciated by many. It also doesn’t have harmful, life-changing side effects. If you’re experiencing headaches or sluggishness from the coffee effects wearing off, peppermint tea is an excellent way to liven up again. Over the counter pain and headache relievers are just as effective, so don’t be afraid to employ whatever you have.

It’s not necessary to clear your shelves of every last coffee grind, but by simply being aware of the consequences you can improve your health in countless ways.

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