Health Series: Cutting Coffee

Posted by Patrick Henry College on 10/11/17 9:34 AM


Midterm and paper-writing season is here, which means college students are hardly sleeping anymore. Long days of classes, work, and studying bleed into long nights of more work and studying. Sound familiar?

Yes, it is draining. But you know what to do: Unroll the bag of coffee grounds and lovingly pour it into your french press, coffeepot, or pour over. Within five minutes, you have yourself a nice, steaming cup of energy and three more hours without sleep. 

verena-yunita-yapi-204090-unsplashAnd for most students, coffee isn’t simply a drink. It’s a way of life. Coffee to wake you up, coffee to help you get through the afternoon, and coffee to keep you focused at night.

But maybe you are one of the few, brave individuals ready to break the addiction. Kudos to you, friend. Before you get started, though, you will need to find an energy supplement something better than coffee. Why? Because cutting it cold turkey will make you feel slow, lethargic, and irritable. So the goal is to find ways to energize your body, mind, and spirit, without relying on caffeine and sugar.

Try any or all of these, and comment below which ones work best for you!


Hit the gym, not the french press...


Researchers have found that exercise can boost energy for those feeling constantly fatigued. The University of Georgia study reports that regular, low-intensity exercise can increase energy levels by 20 percent and decrease fatigue by 65 percent. That’s incredible! Sure, carving out time to go to the gym can be hard. But the time commitment isn’t as much as you think. The subjects in this particular study exercised for just 20 minutes a day, three times a week. That’s only one hour a week! If that feels alright after a week or two, you might even be able to bump it up to two hours...


To sleep or not to sleep?

cassandra-hamer-470060-unsplashLet’s be honest -- between exams, homework, and work, college life stretches your mental capabilities to the max. What could be more restorative than taking 20 minutes to let your brain take a break. Of course, it may seem counterproductive to take time out of a busy schedule to get that extra nap in. But keep in mind, quality sleep improves skills and abilities like learning, memory, problem-solving, attentiveness, decision-making, and creativity—all necessary for getting the most out of the classes, studying, and activities that fill up you.


Isn't there enough water in my Americano?


Well, sort of. Not quite. The National Academy of Meicine (NAM) found that we get water from a variety of good sources including food and other non-coffee beverages – which is awesome! But the best way to get water is to drink it. But then again, why? Do you really want to be that person carrying around a large water bottle all the time? Well, if you’re feeling constantly tired, maybe it's worth it. You might, in fact, be slightly dehydrated. Mild dehydration has been found to cause headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. The NAM also mentioned that "healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide." In otherwords, be in tune with your body and drink water (not something else) whenever you're thirsty. The report went on to specify how much water men and women should intake on a daily average:

  • Women: 2.7 liters (91 ounces)
  • Men: 3.7 liters (125  ounces)

Of course, weight, metabolism, and a host of other factors play into this number, so check with a health professional to get details on what might work best for you.


Eat good things, not coffee beans.

andy-chilton-56332-unsplashCollege students are notorious for their poor eating habits. These might include skipping breakfast in order to make it to class, grabbing snacks at a vending instead of having a real meal, or getting late-night pizza deliveries multiple times a week. A Harvard Business Review article observes that fueling your body with the proper nutrition isn’t just good for your body—it can go a long way to towards improving cognitive performance. The article notes that choosing a quick but unhealthy lunch may come at the price of a sluggish brain later in the afternoon. Add coffee to that mix, and you're stung out on caffee to boot. On the other hand, consuming healthier options such as fruits and vegetables (and water!) can increase your levels of happiness, engagement, and creativity.


All that is to say, coffee isn’t the only answer. Cutting it out of your daily routine will save you cash, boost your energy, and may just save your grades.



How to Survive Life at College 


Courtney Ngai contributed to this article.