It’s International Coffee Day! Coffee is a favourite beverage of students scrabbling to make that urgent deadline, but could it be doing more harm than good?…
Coffee and I have had a rocky relationship, and I know I’m not the only one.
Going into my ninth year of university with yet another PhD deadline on the horizon you can imagine just how many late-night cups I’ve had. Add to that the traditional “let’s do coffee” work meetings, “let’s catch up over coffee” rendezvous, the “I need to get up” morning boosts, and “it’s free so how much can I drink?” conference craziness, and there’s barely an occasion that doesn’t call for caffeine.
Coffee has worked for me as a study aid and many an essay may not have been completed without it. There’s plenty of research out there on the benefits of coffee in moderation (just give it a Google). But when you’re having ten cups a day just to feel awake, you may need to put the percolator down. So how much is too much and what are the alternatives when that limit is reached?
Well, like a lot of these things, limits are individual and the research as to the ‘ideal’ is constantly in debate and flux. So, personally, I go with the rules: be self-aware, listen to your body, and keep everything in moderation… I might stumble every now and then, but it’s important to be mindful.
Try and recognise coffee in the context of your overall lifestyle. For example, if you’re having a coffee in the morning, knocking back pre-workout before the gym, sipping Coke throughout the day, before rounding it off by grabbing a few Jager-bombs to get your night started… it may not be the coffee that’s hurting you directly, it’s certainly adding to your caffeine-fuelled lifestyle! Take a look at your water intake. Are you getting enough of that? How stressed are you? Coffee might just be contributing to the problem rather than being its root.
If you’re still not getting on with coffee, or if you just don’t fancy it, then what are your options?
There are plenty of other ways to get and keep going. In the mornings, a couple of bottles of Vitamin Water and I felt pretty good. During late-night PhD sessions I also found peppermint tea actually gave me quite the boost. Before you reach for that cup of joe, get some fresh air and go for a walk to wake up. In fact, on a couple of the longest nights, bursts of the inspirational sports movie Remember the Titans or a quick set of push ups got my blood going again enough to keep working! Importantly, try to keep to a sensible routine so you’re not dependent on caffeine to stay awake.
Keep track of what you’re having and you can still enjoy your favourite drink, guilt- and jitter-free!
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