5 reasons why drinking coffee to keep awake and study for an exam may be bad for your health

by Sohana

People drink coffee for a variety of reasons – as a way to start the day, to stay alert during a tedious or strenuous procedure, as a beverage, to keep awake and study for a semester exam or a test. Sometimes, people who don’t drink coffee ordinarily resort to coffee when their tests or exams are fast approaching out of desperation. Most of them take an appreciable amount of the drink (or the powder even) the day before the exam/test or on the day of the exam or test. Here are a few reasons why drinking coffee to keep awake and study for your exam or test may be bad for your health:

coffee-mug                                                                     photo credit: Men’s Health

  1. It is habit forming: Like any other Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulant, it’s addictive. The only difference is that its rate and extent of addiction is not as bad as stimulants like Amphetamine and Methamphetamine. The consequence of this is that once you start using it regularly to study, you’ll feel like you can’t keep awake without it. This makes you dependent on it.
  1. You’ll experience all sorts of bizarre side effects: Side effects are other effects or accompanying actions of a drug other the one you desire. All drugs have side effects but not all the side effects are seen in everyone who takes them because our body biochemistry is not exactly the same. Therefore, this experience varies from individuals to individuals. A random sample of people interviewed (and what I’ve been taught) reveals that accompanying side effects of coffee include (but may not be limited to): Anxiety, Hallucinations, increased blood pressure, tachycardia (faster heart rate), frequent urination as a result of diuresis (more water is excreted from your body), insomnia (i.e. inability to sleep even after the effect of the coffee is supposed to have worn out), loss of appetite. Sometimes, these side effects are more severe in some individuals while some other people claim they don’t experience anything at all. The most common side effects would be frequent urination, insomnia and loss of appetite.
  1. Short term memory loss or ‘going blank in the exam hall’: Not everyone experiences this but an appreciable number of people interviewed especially first time coffee-drinkers have experienced memory loss in the hall directly linked to their use of coffee the night before the exam (Forgetting is normal in exam but going blank totally had never happened to them before. it was as though the things they had read the night before had suddenly turned to a mixture of Spanish, Greek and Hausa languages). By short term memory loss, I mean forgetting all they read and assimilated while under the influence of coffee. So although they testify to reading faster and understanding quicker, it seemed that all they read evaporated just as easy as it had entered.
  1. Tolerance: We have seen before that drinking coffee so you could study is habit forming. As you keep dosing yourself with coffee, your body starts getting accustomed to it. Soon, you will require a higher dose or amount to achieve the usual desired effect because the quantity you’ve been taking has little or no effect on your body. This is not good for you because (just like any other drug) the bigger the quantity, the more your chances of getting the side effects. They will be more severe too.
  1. It depletes your body energy stores with a risk of muscle wasting: It is well known that stimulants like coffee make more energy available for your body to use thus making you feel more alert, invigorated and strong. What most people don’t know is that coffee does not provide energy on its own but it encourages your body to use up the energy it has (no matter how little). Although you don’t eat (because coffee tells your body that there’s no need to), it helps breakdown any source of energy your body has. If you take coffee the same way over a long period of time, you’ll eat less but your body will use up a lot more energy. Any rational person will ask: Where will all the energy come from? Now, apart from stored glucose in your liver (as glycogen), your body stores fats and has muscles (which are made up of proteins). So, a process called Gluconeogenesis could set in if there is not enough glycogen in your liver. In simple terms, gluconeogenesis refers to the process of conversion of non – glucose sources (like fats and proteins) into energy to meet the body’s energy demands. With all the lipolysis (breakdown of fats) and proteolysis (breakdown of proteins) occurring, the person would definitely shed weight and the muscles would start degrading. Some people might think the idea of shedding weight by drinking coffee is brilliant but the side effects that await you are not things to long for especially anorexia (characterized by nausea, dizziness, fainting,) because coffee would definitely help you starve!

Next time you feel the need to drink coffee or a caffeinated drink in order to study, think of the effects discussed above and ask yourself: Is it worth it? I hope you found this article helpful. Share this with someone who might need this piece of information. Drop your comments below and tell me your own experience when you drank coffee to keep awake and study for an exam. Thank you.

Disclaimer: This article is a health article based on the writer’s and people’s experiences mixed with classroom knowledge. Everything discussed here does not in any way replace the expert advice of your Physician or Pharmacist.

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