By Mani Thangadurai
Caffeine- almost all of us have consumed it in one form or another, be it through soft drinks, hot beverages, or energy drinks. I personally know of some athletes who have taken caffeine pills in order to prepare for a competition, and still do!
Every day when I’m on campus I always go to Tutu’s Cyber Café next to the Roux Library, and I never fail to see a large number of students sitting there and working while also sipping some delicious beverages or munching some snacks.
What is apparent is that of the many items of food and drink sold at Tutu’s, the coffee items are undeniably the most popular among the students. After all, how can one refuse to buy some iconic Starbucks coffee?
The scenario is more or less the same in the evenings. Students take advantage of the extended library and cyber café hours from Sunday to Thursday by sitting around working or studying, invariably with a cup (or glass!) of coffee at their side. Sometimes it might be a carbonated energy drink, or it might even be an ‘espresso shot’-a small yet very potent cup of raw bean coffee with a little cream.
A large number of students invariably stay up very late to get projects done, and they can seldom succeed without a coffee or an energy drink.
With so much coffee, soda and energy drink being purchased by FSC students on an almost daily basis, there is always the question of whether or not there is a caffeine addiction prevalent on campus. At first, it would be so easy to say yes. Sales of coffee at Tutu’s appear to be quite high, and I have seldom seen students working or studying in the ‘night shift’ without their caffeine fix. It’s almost as if the amount of caffeine consumed increases proportionally with the number of hours spent studying or working. Consequently, the hours of sleep end up decreasing!
In my opinion, however, it isn’t fair to talk about an addiction in that sense of the word without truly observing the consumption habits of the same group of students every day. Even with a more casual observation, it’s hard to pinpoint a very serious addiction among them.
The fact here is that when it comes to caffeine consumption, the more serious consumers are at a minimum, along with those who eschew caffeine altogether. They are the outliers, as it were.
From my own observation, having consumed my fair share of caffeine myself, it only becomes a big problem if students consume caffeinated drinks without having had a proper meal beforehand. As it is for any drug, overconsumption of caffeine will have some adverse effects on the human digestive system in addition to an effect on cognitive functioning.
In addition, most students to whom I have spoken have told me that although they need some caffeine to help then stay awake and study, they wouldn’t really consume it every day.
To sum up, while students do display a strong fondness for coffee and caffeinated drinks, I don’t believe that there is a real addiction to caffeine at all, just a dependency, if you will.
However, I do believe that as students, we must take steps to prevent this dependency from turning into something very serious. It isn’t for nothing that we say that you can get too much of a good thing, and students must know and realize the dangers of continued consumption of caffeine before the habit becomes almost unbreakable.
I have found that snacking on protein or fresh fruit can help people stay awake in order to work, especially since the extra minerals aid cognitive functioning. In that respect, I do enjoy snacking on a few pieces of jerky, and vegetarians can easily replace that with some almonds, for example.
Maybe if Tutu’s were to offer some more fresh fruit such as apples or oranges, as a change from the fruit cups, they could go a long way towards helping students take better care of their health while they work or study at night.