If you’ve got a student in the family, chances are high you’ve seen them with a can of the latest lightning-bolt adorned extra-extra-extra caffeinated beverage in hand, pounding down this “focus fuel” to help them finish a project, study for a test, or just stave off exhaustion for the weekend. To an extent, the student generation’s caffeine binging does help them stay more productive and be more focused.
Caffeine’s short-term beneficial effects have been well documented, and probably don’t need to be rehashed here. However, we’re willing to wager you’ve probably also practically dynamited that same student out of bed on a school morning in order for them to take that test, deliver that project, or just get to their class on time. Because, once they finally do hit that pillow, the fifteen Red Bulls they drank to finish that research paper are still coursing through their system. In fact, that caffeine won’t process out of their body until ten to fifteen hours after it was consumed – just long enough to keep them up all night and then crash them right before their 10 a.m. test.
This is the catch-22 of caffeine: it’s helpful at first, but the resulting sleep deprivation can wreak havoc, causing your student to need even more caffeine to keep functioning (#whydoesmyteenagerdrinkRedBullforbreakfast?). And there’s not really a solution to this problem, except for students to live in a hyper-caffeinated state, each time increasing their intake of caffeine to compensate for the missed sleep and mental exhaustion caused by the last caffeine spike.
And they can’t stop, because they’ve got a test tomorrow.
So what’s an over-caffeinated student to do? Wait until summer break to go on a massive caffeine detox? Drag themselves out of bed every morning by way of one of those earthquake-producing alarm clocks and slam down three Rockstars before lunch? Read on, because we’ve got a few tips to help your favorite student get the most out of their caffeine usage without totally failing their “Sleep” class.
#1: The “24-Hour Detox”
Your student may not be able to go off caffeine for a week, or (perish the thought!) a month, but even pausing caffeine intake for as little as 24 hours can make a difference in their perceived level of caffeine dependency, especially if this “mini detox” is done regularly. Caffeine takes 10-15 hours to process out of the body once ingested, but the body needs a little time after that to finish processing the adenosine (the stuff that makes you feel sleepy) that the caffeine has been blocking (for more information on caffeine and adenosine buildup, check out this article). A twenty-four hour detox will help your student’s body “re-set” and get more energy benefit (and less of a crash) from their next caffeine spike.
#2: The Label-Check
It’s not a bad idea for your student to get a bit more educated about what besides caffeine is actually in those energy drink cans. In addition to the caffeine, most sodas and energy drinks contain a boatload of sugar (or high fructose corn syrup), which can also cause a “crash” feeling, meaning that your student is actually getting a “double crash” from the caffeine and the sugar combined. (Energy drinks can also contain a host of other “supplements” which, although deemed “okay” individually, may or may not have been tested for the way they interact together when imbibed at the same time. We’re not saying they’re outright dangerous, but we are saying it’s important to know exactly what you’re drinking and how it interacts with your body.)
After doing a little label reading and some research that’s probably more immediately applicable to their lives than that report on Pride and Prejudice, your student may decide to adjust the type or amount of caffeinated beverages he or she is imbibing. It’s possible that they’ll even decide they feel better after some green tea and trail mix than after their fourth energy drink anyway.
#3: The “Sleeping Pill”
No, we’re not actually suggesting that your student go on sleeping medication to deal with poor sleep caused by caffeine usage. However, there are at least two sleep aids that help your body use its own natural ability to put you to sleep – and one of them actually detoxes you from caffeine!
Melatonin is a widely used sleep aid that simply adds more – well, more melatonin – to your body to help it fall asleep. It’s not considered a “drug” because it’s something that your body already produces. Some users report still feeling sleepy in the morning, so if your student has early morning tests, then the next sleep aid may be a better alternative:
Rutaesomn is a sleep aid that works by doing only one thing – flushing caffeine quickly out of your system so your body can put itself to sleep without the caffeine getting in the way. With Rutaesomn, caffeine takes between 2-4 hours to leave your body, instead of the normal 10-15, meaning that your student could theoretically drink a bunch of caffeine at 12 a.m., take a Rutaesomn, study until 2 or 3 a.m., and still fall asleep afterwards! (And then, as they’re dreaming about their paper on the literature of Jonathan Swift, they can reflect on the true meaning of the phrase “have your cake and eat it too.”)
We’re pretty sure it is possible for your student to make the most out of their caffeine usage while maintaining a halfway decent sleep schedule and keeping caffeine overuse in check. It’s at least as possible as passing that Algebra test – and hopefully it’ll help with that, too! If you have more tips and tricks for students to get the most out of their caffeine with the fewest side effects, please leave them in the comments below!
About the Author:
Dr. Tim Linnet is a serial entrepreneur in the healthcare and incubator industry. With a Doctorate of Pharmacy from University of the Pacific and Post-Graduate studies in Statistics and Quantitative Analysis at Harvard’s Online Business School, he is the CEO/Founder of Linnet Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (2010) and is also the founder of his new project in development: the We Dream Center (2013). Linnet successfully launched a hot new top seller dietary supplement, Rutaesomn that allows start-up and tech teams to consume caffeine throughout the day and still get a restful sleep at night, it kicks the caffeine out before bed. rutaesomn.com