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Recently, my roommate and I were discussing the necessity of coffee during exam season. Now, I know there are a lot of you out there that drink coffee for much more than just a few months of the year. It’s a non-negotiable staple of your diet, right? You probably even use it for  other reasons, besides the so-called “it helps for focusing” and “I need it to function” aspects.    

Dang. I didn’t know it was okay for university students to talk like drug addicts now. When I was talking to my roommate, the girl was literally jittering and shaking because of how much Tim Hortons brown goodness was in her veins. 

     Is our blood red or brown now? 

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I said, “You do realize that if you just sleep a little bit more and eat regular balanced meals, then you would be much more energized instead of having to rely on coffee?”

“No,” she told me. “Sleeping will make me tired. I don’t have time to eat complete meals, and coffee helps me concentrate. Humans are naturally distracted, so coffee helps to get rid of that. I literally studied for eight hours today, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the help of my dear friend Caffeine over here.”

We continued to argue for another hour, until she started losing track of her thoughts because her so-called espresso-induced laser distraction was wearing off.  

I won’t lie, she brought up some valid points about coffee increasing focus. In the short term, it definitely does. There are many studies that prove this. Try googling it yourself! However, drinking more than a cup a day for a long period of time starts to become detrimental. It begins to affect you less and less, because if you have a properly functioning body, it will eventually adapt. Likewise, you’ll need more and more to have that Extremely Focused And Alert effect. Are we talking about coffee or cocaine? I forgot. 

Anyways, after a while, you’ll start to physically and mentally need coffee because of this reliance. Even if it’s just for a few months during exam time, anything in excess is simply not good for you. 

My roommate also sleeps six hours every night. That’s not enough—we all need about seven or eight. The excuse of “I don’t have time” is just not valid at all. We have 24 full hours per day. If that’s not enough, then reinvent time units, my love. I told her to get two hours more so she’d feel more energized throughout the day, and thus more focused. She wouldn’t even feel tempted to drink coffee because there wouldn’t be drowsiness to combat. Apparently, that’s all too hard because spending four bucks on four cups of coffee and sleeping 14 hours less per week is a much more logical solution instead.  

     If you ain’t sleeping like this guy, you ain’t doing it right. 

Now, for my favorite part: balanced meals. This part of our discussion really got me hyped up, because I cook every day and my roommate knows it. I make my breakfast every single morning, pack a lunch and a snack to spend the rest of the day on campus and finally come home to cook dinner. I definitely enjoy cooking, and it doesn’t take me long because I choose to prepare efficient, healthy meals. That’s the key word: choose

She argued that coffee and little pick-me-up granola bars or cookies are better substitutes because they suppress appetite and she doesn’t have to waste time or be distracted by cooking and eating. 

That is just bullshit. A meal with vegetables, proteins and all the other essential macronutrients your body actually needs will power your brain, allowing you to produce quality work or study much more productively. With coffee, you might be more focused for a short while and get a lot done, but that’s just it. You just get it done. It only feels satisfying for a little bit because you managed to write a paper in an hour, but it’s definitely not worth more than a 65 (maybe a 70 if you’re lucky). 

     Utilize Pinterest, my peeps!

Clearly, you become unfocused and distracted when your body isn’t receiving the proper care it needs. It needs real, whole food. It needs an adequate amount of sleep. When you lack these, your body lets you know, as my roommate so very well described through her lack of focus. When you’re not taking the effort or time to treat your body right, that’s when you start looking for quick fixes. You justify it by the fact that it’s more efficient and maybe even beneficial for you, but you only do this so you have a reason to keep the habit. 

So, for this exam season, let’s all try to lay off coffee as a quick remedy to the university grind and replace those dark brown beans with green ones instead. 

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1 cup vibrancy, 1/2 cup feisty, a few tablespoons of crazy, and a dash of witty all popped in the oven in the year of 2000.
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