Schreiber Science

Adi Levin & Caroline Katz, Staff Writer

We all know the feeling of being completely drained after hours of work and needing a little pick-me-up, whether that is a cup of coffee or an energy drink. According to an article by Barry Meier in The New York Times, the number of teenagers who drink caffeinated beverages has tripled since the 1970s.  Even in the Schreiber hallways, students carrying a cup of coffe is an extremely common sight. But is caffeine the best way to get through the day? And exactly how much is too much?

Nowadays, caffeine is all around us—it is in chocolate, coffee, tea, energy drinks, and even waffles. Caffeine has basically  become a part of America’s culture.  Consuming a moderate amount of caffeine can increase your concentration and make you more alert and awake. However, too much caffeine causes the mind to be more scattered and less focused.

The average teen should consume at most 100 mg of caffeine per day. To put this into perspective, a “venti,” or large, Starbucks coffee contains about 500 mg of caffeine, a 12-ounce soda contains up to 55 mg of caffeine, and a 5-hour energy drink contains 200 mg.

It’s important not to ingest large amounts of caffeine after school, as caffeine can stay in your body for up to 14 hours, possibly leading to trouble sleeping. This creates a vicious cycle: people drink caffeinated beverages mainly because of fatigue and tiredness, but these beverages causes them to be up late at night, and the next day they consume even more caffeine to stay awake.

With the added stress of tests and midterms, teenagers are drinking more caffeinated drinks than ever. Like anything, caffeine in moderation is an excellent way to stay attentive, but too much of the stimulant can produce adverse effects on the consumer’s body. Overdependence on caffeine can lead to headaches and anxiety.

The quickly developing “going out for coffee” culture is rapidly leading to an increase in teenage caffeine consumption. Abruptly stopping an excessive intake of caffeinated beverages can be as harmful as the effects caused by developing the habit in the first place. Caffeine withdrawal is not a pretty sight. When people experiencing it do not have their cup of coffee in the morning, they are often irritable and tired.

The best way to decrease caffeine intake is to gradually ease out of the routine. Other ways to cut down on caffeine include drinking a decaf beverage or moving the time of day you drink coffee to make sure that it does not interfere with your sleep cycle.

Decaf coffee and tea are easy to come by, and maybe staying alert and awake will become easier if you don’t drink exorbitant amounts of caffeinated beverages. It could help to keep track of how much caffeine you’re consuming, or set caffeine limits for yourself. If you’re not reliant on it yet, do your best to limit your caffeine intake so a dependency does not form.

So it must be true, caffeine follows the cliche saying, “Everything is good, in moderation.”