By: Moboluwarin Ogunleye
I would like to introduce Chidera. Exams are in a few days, but she still needs to cover. She’s on page 100 out of 875 and running out of time. So, she decides to forgo her sleep in a desperate attempt to finish reading the lecture material.
But unfortunately, nature tries to take its course. The first day she tried the overnight reading, also known as TDB, she fell asleep.
With only two days left till the test, she knew she couldn’t afford to fall asleep again like the previous night, so she decided to ensure she didn’t fall asleep. She goes to the local shop and buys a bottle of a popular energy drink, Fearless.
This by itself might not be so bad, but continuous use cannot certainly be good for the body as these drinks contain a large amount of caffeine. Let us look at potential ways these energy drinks and other things that keep you up at night e.g., coffee.
Understanding Caffeine and it’s sources
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that belongs to the xanthines class of chemicals. It can be found in coffee beans, tea leaves, cacao pods, and some plants such as guarana.
Caffeine is added to various beverages, pharmaceuticals, and nutritional supplements in addition to natural sources, making it easily accessible to people of all ages.
Energy drinks, in particular, have grown in popularity in recent years, owing to their high caffeine content and claims of increased alertness and energy. Energy drinks also contain substances like Ginkgo Biloba; a chinese herb, Guarana, sugar, ginseng among many others.
Consequences of continuous caffeine use;
While moderate caffeine use can have some positive effects, excessive caffeine consumption or sensitivity to caffeine can have a variety of unfavorable health impacts. The following are some of the potential detrimental effects of caffeine on health.
Sleep Disturbances: One of caffeine’s most well-known negative effects is its effect on sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant, which can disrupt the body’s regular sleep-wake cycle.
It inhibits the brain’s adenosine receptors, which are important for increasing tiredness. As a result, ingesting caffeine, especially close to bedtime, might make falling asleep difficult and lower overall sleep quality. This can cause drowsiness, weariness, and reduced cognitive function during the day.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, which causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. While this impact is normally transient and unimportant in most healthy people, excessive caffeine consumption or sensitivity to caffeine might cause long-term heart rate and blood pressure elevations.
Prolonged elevation of these cardiovascular parameters increases the risk of developing cardiovascular illnesses such as hypertension and irregular heart rhythms.
Gastrointestinal Problems: Caffeine can also be harmful to the gastrointestinal system. It works as a diuretic, increasing urine production and potentially leading to dehydration if fluid intake is not maintained adequately.
Caffeine can also accelerate the formation of stomach acid, which can result in heartburn, acid reflux, and gastrointestinal discomfort in certain people. It may also have laxative properties, resulting in increased bowel movements or even diarrhea.
Anxiety and Restlessness: Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that, in moderate dosages, can boost alertness and improve mood. Excessive coffee use, on the other hand, might cause anxiety, restlessness, and irritability.
Individuals predisposed to anxiousness or underlying mental health issues may be especially vulnerable to these harmful consequences. It is crucial to remember that caffeine sensitivity varies between individuals, and some may experience these effects even with low caffeine use.
Caffeine Dependency and Withdrawal Symptoms: Caffeine dependency occurs when the body acclimates to caffeine and requires it to function correctly. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms include headaches, weariness, irritability, and difficulties concentrating when caffeine use is abruptly reduced or stopped.
These symptoms may be transient, but they can significantly influence everyday functioning and productivity.
Caffeine’s harmful effects vary depending on individual sensitivity, overall health status, and amount eaten. While moderate caffeine consumption is usually regarded as safe for most healthy individuals, it is critical to be aware of personal tolerance and avoid excessive intake.
Consultation with a healthcare practitioner can provide individualized caffeine use advice and aid in mitigating potential negative health consequences.
Workout: Physical activity is a natural and effective technique to boost energy levels and stay awake. Exercise causes the release of endorphins, which are “feel-good” hormones that improve mood and energy.
Physical activity also improves cognitive function and alertness by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. Regular activity, such as a brisk walk, a workout, or a yoga class, can deliver a continuous energy boost and help overcome lethargy.
Water intake: Maintaining healthy physical processes and cognitive performance requires enough hydration. Dehydration can cause weariness and a loss in alertness.
Drinking enough water throughout the day might help prevent dehydration and enhance alertness. Individuals can improve their energy by infusing their water with slices of citrus fruits such as lemon or orange, which provide a refreshing taste and a natural supply of vitamin C.
Herbal teas, such as peppermint or ginger, can also be hydrating and tasty alternatives to caffeinated beverages.
Power Napping: Taking brief power naps can help you refresh and stay awake without relying on caffeine. A power nap, which usually lasts 10 to 20 minutes, can increase alertness, cognitive performance, and mood.
It gives the brain time to recover and integrate information, resulting in enhanced productivity and focus when you wake up. However, extended naps should be avoided because they might affect evening sleep patterns and leave people feeling drowsy.
Snacks that are good for you: Choosing nutritious snacks with a macronutrient balance will assist maintain energy levels and improve wakefulness. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which are high in complex carbs, give a continuous supply of energy throughout the day.
Protein-rich foods like nuts, seeds, yogurt, and lean meats can help balance blood sugar levels and prevent energy crashes. Incorporating foods strong in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish or chia seeds, can also benefit brain health and cognitive performance.
Organic Supplements: Certain natural supplements might give you a surge of energy without the usage of caffeine. Ginseng, for example, has traditionally been used to counteract weariness and boost mental efficiency.
Another herb that has been demonstrated to improve cognitive performance and minimize mental tiredness is Rhodiola rosea. Furthermore, vitamin B12 pills can aid enhance energy metabolism and prevent weariness.
Before beginning any new supplements, it is critical to contact with a healthcare practitioner to confirm they are safe and suited for individual needs.
In conclusion, caffeine and energy drinks may provide short-term benefits, but their excessive and chronic intake might have long-term effects for physical health, mental well-being, and social connections.
To avoid the negative consequences indicated in this article, individuals must be mindful of their caffeine use and strive for moderation. As with any substance, making educated decisions and prioritizing overall health and well-being are critical.