Newsletters for Mental Health
Alicia Pamperin, MSOE Counseling Services
September 2011

As the quarter progresses, students may find themselves with more work than they could possibly handle. They know they need to get it all done and something needs to go. More often than not that something is sleep and it is replaced with an energy drink or caffeine pill. While this may seem like a good idea at the time, in the long run it can be dangerous and there is a lot to consider. Although, it is true that caffeine pills and energy drinks do give burst of energy that many find helpful to get through those crunch times, the side effects are not worth the price.

Some of the side effects of over use of caffeine include: insomnia, headaches, hypertension, chest pains, anxiety, seizures, hallucinations, irritability, difficulty concentrating and in some rare cases, even death.

These side effects are caused by the high amounts of sugar and caffeine. It is also important to note that energy drinks are on the market as dietary supplements. This  means they are not bound by the FDA regulations that other products with caffeine. The FDA considers caffeine to be a potentially harmful ingredient. For sodas, the caffeine content is limited to 71mg per 12 fluid oz. The average energy drink (250 ml) has between 50-160 mg of caffeine in it. Compare this to a 12 oz can of Coca Cola, which only has 34.5 mg of caffeine in.

It is also important to consider the effects of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. This carries the dangerous problem of making people fool their bodies into thinking they aren’t as drunk as they actually are. This is a problem because it leads to people believing they are capable of driving when they aren’t. On average people who mix alcohol with energy drinks are three times more likely to leave a bar or a party drunk as those who only drink alcohol. You know those nasty hangovers in the morning? Those are caused by dehydration, which is made worse by an energy drink’s high caffeine content. This is because caffeine is a diuretic, which causes water loss.

An occasional energy drink here and there is not necessarily going to cause a problem, but it is still better for someone to get their energy from a good night’s sleep, a good diet and exercise.  You’ll feel better in the long run and you won’t have to worry about relying on energy drinks and caffeine pills to get you through those tight spots.