Sophie Chase ’18
It’s the time of the year when Smith’s campus starts buzzing. Now begin the late nights in Neilson, the abnormal (if any) sleep schedule, hitting up the Campus Center Late Hours for a second dinner because whatever you had at 5:30 p.m. will not be enough to fuel you through the long night of work ahead. Most likely as a student, you’re pouring those one or two extra cups of coffee a day to power you through a whole day of work, but what are you really putting your body to get the energy to keep going?
Though each body processes caffeine differently and has different thresholds for caffeine, a recent TIME magazine article said that about 400 mg of caffeine a day, or five eight-ounce cups, is okay to consume. This much caffeine can also be found in just one venti Starbucks brewed coffee or about two and a half 16 ounce Monster Energy Drinks. Though this seems like a manageable number of servings, remember that caffeine is also found in other sources, such as sugar, fruit and chocolate.
So what will consuming this amount of caffeine or more do to your body? Caffeine, despite its necessity for students, interferes with sleep patterns. This lack of zzz’s, in turn, affects your mental and physical health as well as tampers with your body’s weight-control system. It is recommended, according to TIME, to pass on all caffeine within 6 hours before your desired bedtime.
But for those that could down a cup of joe and an hour later fall fast asleep, it could have to do with their genetic makeup. According to Authority Nutrition, there has been a recent discovery of multiple genes that are responsible for controlling your sensitivity to caffeine. How the body breaks down caffeine and how the brain receives signaling related to caffeine are both controlled by a set of genes which are responsible for how caffeine affects everyone differently.
When consumed locks adenosine receptors which signal your body when it’s time to go to bed. So by blocking the receptor, caffeine stimulates your brain and gives you a boost of energy! If you’re experiencing any anxiety, upset stomach, fast heartbeat or tremors after your extra cup of coffee, you should probably cut back your dosage. On the contrary, a suitable amount of caffeine each day could reduce risks of certain diseases including liver cancer and depression.
So next time you reach for an extra cup of coffee to get you through your papers, presentations and exams, think of how much caffeine you’re consuming and how you’re feeling! Drinking a few servings a day is safe and could actually help your long term health. Moral of the story: take life one cup at a time!