SURVEY: What is the one thing that gets you through midterms?
By Farris Willingham, Staff Writer
Midterms are within the next few weeks, which means student workloads will increase and students will seek energy boosters.
“In today’s fast-paced world, energy drinks have become the trendy beverage of choice for many people,” said Stefanie Latham, chairwoman and associate professor of kinesiology. “Basically an energy drink is a glorified can of soda.”
Both contain a lot of caffeine and sugar, with the difference being that an energy drink contains more, she said.
The average energy drink contains 50-80 milligrams of caffeine.
The main health risk associated with consuming large amounts of caffeine is its effect on heart rate and blood pressure, Latham said.
“With large doses of caffeine, the heart rate can become so accelerated that it may lead to an irregular or quickened heart beat,” she said. “It can also cause dehydration.”
The sugar in an energy drink can create a temporary buzz.
“Sugar overstimulates the nervous system, causing people to feel a burst of energy,” Latham said.
That typically leads to a crash, though, she said. The person then feels worse than before and sometimes craves more sugar, Latham said.
It is an unhealthy pattern to follow and can weaken the immune system, she said.
Energy drinks provide no healthy effects, said Valerie Robinson, wellness coordinator.
Students are staying up late and drinking energy drinks for the stimulation, she said.
“Doing that once a semester has no long-term effects, but you shouldn’t make a habit out of it,” Robinson said.
It also can lead to trouble sleeping and concentrating, she said. An insufficient amount of sleep can leave you susceptible to illnesses.
Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day is much healthier, she said.
“It’s also good to get seven to eight hours of sleep,” Robinson said. “Do some physical activity instead.
“It raises your heart rate more naturally and will make you more alert.”
There are a variety of energy drink choices. Students can pick up a Rock Star, Monster or Spike during a visit to any convenience store, Latham said.
Mixing energy drinks and alcohol has become popular, she said.
“The caffeine is supposed to counteract the depressant effect of the alcohol,” Latham said
It can lead to severe dehydration and harmfully affecting the heart, she said.
Olivia Brien, acting/music freshman, said that the effects can be beneficial if used in moderation.
“Drinking three in a day is irresponsible,” she said. “But having one after pulling an all-nighter is okay.”
They are high in calories and sugar, and they’re delicious, said Maggie Spicer, music theater freshman.
“I used to drink more in high school, but now I occasionally consume them,” Spicer said. “Monster was my jam.”
This story originally appeared in the Feb. 23 issue of The Campus newspaper.