Why I am Thankful for Decaf: the Negative Effects of Caffeine

Ah, caffeine, the collegiette’s best friend. Whether you’re drinking tea to wake yourself up for that morning class or grabbing a coffee with the cute guy from your math class, we all have caffeine.  Yet, how often do we really think about this drug we so often consume? I think most are very aware of the positives of caffeine but what about the negative effects? Recently, I became very aware of these effects and quit caffeine cold turkey.  I did some research and found caffeine can really affect a lot about your body. Let me preface this by saying I am in no way a doctor or biologist. I had a personal experience, did some research and this is what I came up with.

When I really started to experience the negative effects on my mood is when I added multiple cups of coffee to the mix. I am a regular tea drinker, but when I started working over the summer, I began to drive coffee on a regular basis around two cups a day in addition to my tea. During this time,  I started to have drastic mood swings which is very unlike my even tempered sarcastic attitude. I went from being this upbeat person, to being upbeat most of the day to having these really low lows when the caffeine would wear off. As a woman, I have always been regular, however that changed as well. I had adequate time to sleep, yet I would not feel well rested. Eventually, I became very fed up with these changes in my health and decided to try and fix the problem by cutting out caffeine. After the withdrawal period (which consisted of a major headache and serious fatigue), I felt a lot better and became myself again. I write about this not to say caffeine is bad and you should cut it out of life completely, but rather speak about what I experienced, which you read, and then provide some info about caffeine’s negative effects.

Mess with your moods

Caffeine intake has been linked to irritability, anxiety, and depression, as reported by Medical Daily. Caffeine tricks the brain to release serotonin and dopamine as well as adrenaline and norepinephrine. These hormones are the ones which are involved in the fight or flight response in emergency situations, because there is no energy which require these hormones when you are just drinking coffee that this causes mood fluctuations. These increase of these stress hormones reduce oxygen going to the brain which restricts blood vessels, causing tension leading to anxiety. The more the caffeine intake increases, the worse these effects become.  

Screws up your sleep cycle

College students get so little sleep as it is and caffeine is not helping, believe it or not. According to an article by the Student Health and Counseling Services of UC Davis, the negatively impacts your ability to sleep, quality of sleep and sleep deprivations for the next day. A person does not get enough sleep, so they go for coffee, which then makes the quality and ability to sleep more difficult, leading to the person being more tired and thus intake more caffeine. This cycle repeats and repeats.

Period problems

Nothing is better during that time than to wrap yourself in a blanket and have some tea. Yet, there is research that points to caffeine for making that time of the month worse.  First off, according to Livestrong, it increases PMS symptoms with women whose caffeine intake was higher experienced greater symptoms than those of a lower intake. Caffeine causes the symptoms to be more prominent. Caffeine also makes cramps worse because it increases urine production and heightens dehydration. Caffeine can also affect your cycle in general, such as making it shorter or irregular due to the restriction of the blood vessels.

I always thought caffeine would help me, either during a test after a long night or studying or after classes to write an essay. However, I did not realize how it could harmfully impact me. So, I write this article to inform that there are negatives to all the coffee and tea we drink. I am not saying quit all caffeinated beverages, but just be aware that everything has its downsides. So, have that cup of tea at night to unwind, but perhaps consider making it decaf.