Emily Chang/ West Ranch High School 10th
It’s 12:30 in the morning. I still have 2 chapters of AP Biology to get through, and the test is tomorrow. My eyelids are drooping and so, naturally, I turn to the savior of all high school students: caffeination. Unsurprisingly, I am not the only high schooler who suffers this dilemma. I live off of a broken sleep cycle of staying up through the night, pumped with caffeine, only to come home after school and nap through the afternoon. You see it all around high school campuses across America. Swarms of students carrying a cup of Starbucks in a size so large, I didn’t even realize it existed. Braindead zombies, sleep deprived and holding onto the only thing that will keep them awake throughout the day. Surely, you think, it can’t possibly be this bad.
However, research done by CBS shows that 73 percent of high teenagers consume caffeine each day. This can be in the form of energy drinks, coffee, or soda. While caffeination might seem like the best option in the moment, it can lead to many adverse effects such as dizziness, difficulty focusing, and anxiety.
Why are high school students so addicted to the caffeination buzz? It’s a combination of many things, like the positive image associated with coffee drinkers or the example parents set for their children at a young age. Most obvious, however, is the sleep deprivation almost all high schoolers experience at one time or another. After a late night, many teens find that the only way to stay awake in the morning is to have an energy drink or cup of coffee. The average teenager needs 9.5 hours of sleep each night, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. However, a recent study done by CFAH shows that only 8 percent of teenagers get enough sleep each night.
While coffee or energy drinks might seem like the high school hero, it has many negative effects that can result in concerning health problems in teenagers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teenagers consume no more than 100mg of caffeine a day. However, a report released by Very Well Health states that an energy drink can have up to 500mg of caffeine per serving, the equivalent of 14 cans of soda. When teens begin to consume more than the recommended amount of caffeine, they are risking sleepless nights and high blood pressure. More immediate effects include muscle tremors, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. Caffeine is a drug, so when people don’t have their daily dose of it, they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, lethargy, and headaches.
As much as it pains me to admit, caffeine is truly affecting the well-being of high schoolers across the nation. The cutthroat and competitive atmosphere in high schools causes students to overload their schedules with everything from AP classes to extracurriculars, and sleep is what ends up suffering. Thus, caffeination becomes the “crutch” for many teens. However, caffeine is a drug, plain and simple. And like any drug, addiction and overdose is possible, whether or not teenagers realize it. The consumption of caffeine is not a high school hero, but rather an epidemic.
<Emily Chang/ West Ranch High School 10th