Caffeine and Anxiety


Photo by David Fertitta

Finals week is rapidly approaching at Louisiana State University (LSU). Students will be staying up late studying and overindulging on caffeine-filled drinks to help cram for their exams in an attempt to maintain or achieve good grades. The most notorious of these beverages being consumed on college campuses are coffee and energy drinks.

As any avid coffee drinker can attest, starting the day with a cup of coffee is a necessity. After all, caffeine has been shown to improve alertness, reduce fatigue, and elevate mood. But what happens when we keep reaching for more and more caffeine throughout the day or to help stay up for a late night study session?

As it turns out, excessive intake of coffee can be counterproductive for studying. Caffeine acts to block adenosine receptors in the brain and increase activity in the central nervous system, which is why caffeine is known as a stimulant. However, when too much is consumed, this stimulant can cause issues with sleep deprivation and increased levels of anxiety. Caffeine can remain in the body for several hours and affect both falling asleep and sleep patterns. Sleeplessness can then cause even more stress and feelings of anxiety, all of which can negatively affect academic performance.

When preparing for finals, remember to keep an adequate sleep schedule a part of the study plan. This may help prevent feeling the need for that extra cup of coffee. While there is no reason to completely give up coffee (I know I won’t anytime soon), monitoring caffeine intake is important, and caffeine levels shouldn’t exceed about 400mg per day, which is a little more than 2 or 3 cups of coffee.


By David Fertitta

Winston, A. P., Hardwick, E., & Jaberi, N. (2005). Neuropsychiatric effects of caffeine. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11(6), 432-439.


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