Caffeine Use on Campus
by Ned Sheehan on Friday, November 20th, 2015
This past spring, “Coffee for Change” opened in the student center. Run by students, the program was a great success, drawing long lines daily, as well as raising 750 dollars for the End Child Prostitution and Trafficking charity in only two weeks. This start-up isn’t the only place on campus where students and faculty alike can indulge in a caffeine craving: Milton Academy sells coffee, tea, and various caffeinated soft drinks in its snack bar and bookstore. The prevalence of caffeine around Milton begs the question: does Milton over-promote this stimulant? Should the school stop selling these types of beverages? In my opinion, as long as Milton continues to pile on a rigorous course-load to its students, the school should absolutely continue to make caffeine available to the student body.
According to a recent survey of classes I-III, only 24.4% of Milton students get 8 or more hours of sleep each night, the recommended amount for teenagers aged 14-18. Perhaps even more disturbingly, one in ten Milton students gets five hours of sleep or fewer. These numbers present a dark truth about Milton: students simply don’t get enough sleep.
Milton’s schedule of rigorous academics, long hours of sports, and time-consuming extracurriculars prevent students from getting sufficient sleep. In my opinion, excessive caffeine consumption is just a symptom of a much greater and more pernicious disease: sleep deprivation. It is not hard to imagine how caffeine might draw us in and never let us go. Students turn to caffeine as they work late into the night to complete their homework. Then, in the morning, they turn to the stimulant again to help them function properly in class–despite the sleep they missed. Though our reliance on caffeine may seem abusive, it is, in my opinion, necessary.
Moderate caffeine use has been shown to improve alertness and attention. These benefits can and do help classroom discussion at Milton. Caffeine likely reboots tired students, thus increasing the quality of their contributions to class discussions. I, for one, would rather have a vigorous and informative discussion fueled by caffeine than a groggy one without it.
In addition to the perks in performance, caffeine is often greatly beneficial to one’s long-term health. According to a study lead by Harvard School of Public Health researchers, coffee particularly reduces the risk of prostate cancer, neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, and Type II diabetes.
Furthermore, caffeine in moderation is not unhealthy. Although it is technically an addictive substance, the effects of caffeine withdrawal are mild and short in duration. Although society often unfairly stigmatizes caffeine, the substance is a known “performance enhancer” as noted in New York Times article from March 25th, 2009. And, contrary to some popular belief, we would have a hard time overdosing on the forms of caffeine sold at Milton. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, most adults would have to drink 50-70 cups of coffee to overdose. This would be quite a feat for anybody, let alone the majority of Milton students who drink around one caffeinated beverage per day.
A BBC statistic claims that over 90% of Americans are dependent on caffeine. Among the ten percent who are not, a large percentage of the people are religiously banned or discouraged from using caffeine. Almost all Milton students will end up drinking caffeine, and there are no significantly adverse effects to doing so. Next time you go to Coffee for Change, don’t feel guilty about loading up on your caffeine boost for the day The idea that our money is going to a good cause is a silver lining in the cloud of our exhausted and overworked community.
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