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Wellness > Mental Health

Coffee and College and More Coffee And…Maybe Too Much?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ithaca chapter.

As I sit here, writing this article and guzzling down a double shot espresso, I think to myself…why am I so dependent on you?

This drink that dehydrates me yet energizes me, allowing me to finish a 5-page paper. The power of coffee is so incredible… however, also terrifying. The relationship between school and caffeine consumption is something I have thought about for quite some time now. This beverage is so easily accessible on a college campus and can be consumed at almost any given hour of the day. Whether that be to kick off your morning or give you that burst of much-needed energy at night, coffee seems to be the average college student’s best friend.

But is there a downside?

I am personally an extreme coffee fanatic. It’s like it gives me this sudden burst of motivation to get shit done. Whether that be going to the gym or cranking out a mass amount of school work, coffee acts as a beautiful facilitator for these activities. And I am sure most of you fellow coffee drinkers can agree with me. However, part of me wonders about the effects coffee can have on your health…particularly your mental health.

Mental health is something that I firmly believe needs to be prioritized. Without a sound mind, I find it nearly impossible to be productive. I was curious if the coffee was impacting my mental health, so I took to trusty Google to find some answers.

According to the American Psychological Association, caffeine indeed does have its benefits! It can make you more alert, give you energy and an overall good feeling…which is why we consume it in the first place, am I right? However, just like anything, too much caffeine can have a severe downside. It can impact sleep, cause irritability, gastric distress (oh boy), and at the end of the day, it is addictive. Caffeine withdrawal is a real thing. 

So…how much is too much? When I was reading this information, I began to think about how much coffee I personally drink. And it varies, but it certainly is quite a lot. Michael Lucas, Ph.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues followed more than 50,730 women in the Nurses’ Health Study for almost 25 years. That is a very long time. Jeez. Anyways, the study showed that these women who drank at least four cups of coffee a day had a 20 percent reduced risk of depression. That is a pretty significant decrease. Four cups of coffee appear like a reasonable amount, but I know I consume more caffeine than only four cups of coffee (with added shots of espresso…OF COURSE!)

One of the main reasons coffee can impact mental health is probably the most obvious: sleep impairment. Now, I have had issues with falling asleep for quite a long time. I began to wonder if my overconsumption of caffeine was to blame. I probably do not want to admit it to myself…but there is a pretty decent chance that it is.

I personally do not feel inclined to cut this heavenly beverage from my diet completely. Coffee has numerous health benefits, and, like everything in life, should be consumed in moderation. I guess if I did want to make one change, it would be to refrain from drinking coffee late at night. To my fellow coffee lovers out there, there is no need to fear! Coffee has both its upsides and its downsides…and if you enjoy it and it makes you feel good, I say keep on sipping!

My name is Natalie Tribiano and I am a freshman Integrated Marketing Communications major at Ithaca College. I have a passion for writing and am excited to be a part of HerIthaca! I am an avid coffee consumer who loves to exercise, and enjoys stepping outside of my comfort zone. My dream is pursue a career that allows me to express myself creatively, whether that be through media, writing or communication.
Allaire is an inquisitive and confident lady who loves to watch reruns of her favorite shows (Bones anyone?) and enjoy the finer things in life like sand in between her toes, the sun on her skin and chocolate ice cream. Allaire is a senior Sociology major and Women and Gender Studies minor with aspirations to be a human rights lawyer and a songwriter. She is passionate about music, traveling and social justice.