Coffee may not be the best study partner

Cheyenne Kesth, Kate Walsh and Phaedra DeJarnette enjoy drinks from Relámpago Coffee Lab in between their classes at Flagler College. Studies have shown that the combination of stress and coffee can be bad for people health.

By Jesse Sherman |

With the final exams, papers and projects students going on, students are going to start experiencing more stress in their lives.

Studies show that 69 percent of people feel stress by having lack of time. Another 69 percent feel stress by having lack of money, and 51 percent feel stress from the pressure to give or get gifts, according to the American Psychological Association.

Adding to this chaos is a higher amount of caffeine consumption. And those who gather at cafés, a popular study spot for many students, might be experiencing the opposite of the desired effect.

To help her through the exam stress, Flagler College student Taryn Chaya drinks coffee.

“I get coffee to study for big exams to write big papers. The coffee gives me more energy, and I think it helps me focus more,” she said.

One place that students go to study is Relámpago Coffee Lab, 74 Spanish St. Opened September 2016, this café offers a wide variety of coffee and tea drinks.

Courtney Olson, a student of Flagler College, also works part time in the café.

“We see about 40 to 50 students come in the café to study every day. Even more come in during final and midterms,” Olson said.

Jenn Wihlborg is a nutrition major at the University of North Florida. She is a president of the school’s Nutrition and Journal Club and worked at Mayo Clinic, in Jacksonville for three years under the Registered Dietitians department.

In her studies, Wihlborg learned the pros and cons of having caffeine in their diets. She found that drinking coffee has health benefits that improve people’s health with regular coffee intake. Coffee has been shown to lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease and gallstones.

“Caffeine, in excess, may lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, and tachycardia (fast heartbeat),” Wihlborg said. “The way that caffeine affects our bodies is very individualized and the side effects may not be the same for everyone.”

With times of stress, people normally do not go rushing to grab a salad—instead they turn to junk food and fast food. By adding copious amounts of caffeine on top of this stress diet, people feel nervous and restless.

Wihlborg advises people who experience high levels of stress and anxiety to avoid coffee in their diet because caffeine and stress have similar effects on the body.

“Stress impacts the body in a tremendous way, and the heart compensates for this stress by working harder,” Wihlborg said. “More specifically, our body is in a constant ‘fight-or-flight’ state where adrenaline is released and our heart rate is increased. Caffeine, as we know, will also increase heart rate. Having someone with high or prolonged levels of stress or cardiac conditions should steer clear from caffeinated coffee or tea.”

An option for those who have high stress level is to drink decaffeinated tea or coffee. However, these drinks still have small amounts of caffeine in them. As does chocolate, especially dark chocolate, said Wihlborg.

“Breathing exercises, essential oils, exercise, or taking a warm bath,” Wihlborg said. “These all may help ease the mind.”

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