Spilling the beans: The bitter side effects of coffee


By Raima Saha, Co-Opinion Editor

Every morning when I walk into school, I have no idea what to expect. However, there is always one thing I know I can count on: coffee.

I always see students and teachers alike milling about with a coffee cup in hand, reveling in how much they love it, leaving those who happened to forget their daily cup at home to grovel in bitterness.

This long-standing obsession with coffee is not new; with students packing their evenings with homework, extracurriculars and a life, and teachers tending to their personal lives, it is understandable to see how sleep may fall to the waysideand someone would need an extra boost the next day. While coffee may taste good, it is time to spill the beans on how coffee may pose great harm to people’s health and their wallet.

Coffee can hinder sleep. McGill University found that caffeine blocks adenosine, a neuromodulator that slows down neural activity, from attaching to receptors in the central nervous system, which causes overstimulation. While this might be good to get through those days in which someone is especially tired, it can be detrimental in the long run. According to the Sleep Foundation, those who use coffee to counteract the effects of sleep deprivation are more likely to exhibit symptoms of insomnia, leading to less quality sleep.

This perpetuates the cycle of unhealthy sleep, which is especially harmful for students since their bodies and minds need that rest to develop and heal from the previous day.

Additionally, coffee can increase stress levels. A study conducted by Duke Health found that adrenaline levels in those who drank 250 milligrams of caffeine, equivalent to four cups of coffee, rose by 32% over the course of a week and their perceived psychological and physiological stress increased greatly. Students and teachers, for whom the stressors of life never cease, can experience prolonged stress levels that can cause major problems such as high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate. Over long periods of time, they can cause serious health issues.

Dependence on coffee can also be expensive. According to Zippia, 62% of Americans drink coffee daily, with the average American spending about $2,130 per year on coffee. Compounded over 50 years, that is equivalent to tuition for a four-year in-state university education. Coffee can be, especially for those who find themselves particularly attached to the beverage, an expensive and frivolous habit to indulge in.

Many argue that coffee is actually beneficial to one’s health, preventing the onset of many chronic diseases. The Harvard School of Public Health states that coffee is associated with a lower chance of heart disease and Parkinson’s disease and can reduce the chances of early death. While this may be true, coffee exacerbates the stress in someone’s life and promotes poor sleep, which can bring about these same health problems.

Coffee is the staple drink of the sleep-deprived and fatigued, consumed to rejuvenate, but this should not be the case. Instead, prioritize sleep and incorporate other healthy habits, such as good diet and exercise, to lessen attachments to coffee, and maybe, grind out coffee altogether. Trust me, your mind and body will thank you.

Raima Saha can be reached at [email protected].