I can always find someone drinking coffee in a morning lecture. If it’s not the hungover partygoer in front then most likely it will be me. As a self-confessed coffee lover I wondered if my fondness for the roasted bean was a healthy one: why does it get me through that first lecture and do I drink too much of it? Coffee makes us feel alert, yet a typical espresso has only six calories: so why the energy boost?
Our bodies produce Biochemical Adenosine, which makes us prone to fatigue. Caffeine prevents this chemical binding to neurons, causing increased neuron activity and resulting in our body going into a state of ‘fight or flight.’ This accounts for higher blood pressure, heart rate and heightened alertness.
But is drinking more than the odd cup actually bad for your health? The worst effect of caffeine consumption is upon sleep. It takes six hours for the caffeine to leave our system, which can cause our bodies to miss out on deep sleep, leaving us feeling lethargic. Other associated long-term risks of caffeine consumption include fatigue and depression.
On the flip side, coffee has been shown to have health benefits; two cups a day can reduce the risk of colon cancer, gall stone development and liver disease. Recent research has also shown that caffeine increases short-term memory and IQ, which would explain our increased desire for it around exam time.
So how much is too much? The recommended limit of caffeine for a day is 300mg, which is roughly equivalent to 4 espressos. There are some appealing benefits of caffeine and surely having a few sleepless nights for that academic boost isn’t all that bad. The decision is yours, but I for one can’t resist the £1.50 coffee and brownie deal from Pope Cafe; it’s an unbeatable combination.