Mar 122008
Authors: Maggie Canty

As midterms come to a close and finals loom just around the corner, students will find themselves forced to juggle work, classes, studying and partying, and find that something’s gotta give.

And that something is sleep.

Luckily, our quick-fix society has solved our problem with an instant solution: caffeine. And I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

Caffeine is a drug. It causes anxiety, addiction, dehydration and many kinds of cancer. And STDs. And malaria.

Well not quite, but you get the idea. Caffeine has a bad rep.

But that doesn’t stop most of us from having a cup or 10 a day.

And it’s not just in our coffee. Significant amounts of caffeine can be found in chocolate, tea, painkillers, most sodas and even some nuts.

But don’t bet on your premature death just yet. Contrary to popular belief, caffeine isn’t all bad. When taken in moderation, it can actually be beneficial.

According to an article in Women’s Health magazine, the amount of caffeine in two to four cups of coffee a day (depending on your tolerance) can help increase alertness and cognitive function, and improve your physical ability, improving your endurance by 10 to 15 percent.

Which could mean the difference between first and last in line at Panda during the lunch rush.

Diane Moeller, a registered dietician at the Health District of Larimer County, agreed with the article, and said she considered a couple cups of coffee a day to be “no big deal.”

Although she said the best way to prepare for a test is with sleep, exercise and healthy eating, Moeller believes caffeine in moderation can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

“Our modern conception is to look at extremes, and not consider the nutrients of things in moderation,” she said. “We’re very reductionist when we look at food, and sometimes overlook the benefits of certain foods, besides just the nutrients.”

So bring on the double shot.

Women’s Health also found that many of the studies that say that caffeine increases risk of cancer may have false results because of the large amount of smokers who drink coffee. It’s not the caffeine, it’s the nicotine that’s getting people.

Luckily, you can’t smoke Red Bulls. Yet.

However, when the stress is on, most studies show that too much caffeine can increase anxiety levels, leaving you jittery and less likely to focus on that Bio homework. Or the new Super Smash Brothers.

According to the article, you can die from overdosing on caffeine. But considering it takes roughly 600 cups of coffee or thousands of cups of tea, I’d imagine your wallet would lose it long before your heart.

So, like so many things, caffeine can be good and bad. It’s all about moderation. It is no sleep substitute, but it can make up a bit of difference when you’re short a few hours.

It’s when you’re short all eight that you’re in trouble.

Entertainment Editor Maggie Canty can be reached at

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