Effects of Caffeine on College Students

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College can be exhausting. From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed—and let’s face it, that time is usually well after midnight—college is a constant round of activities. Sure, there are classes, but there is also studying, lab work, homework, essay writing, extracurriculars, social activities, and more. And that doesn’t even count the part-time or full-time jobs that more than four in ten full-time college students are also struggling to balance with their academic achievements. When you are feeling a bit rundown or need extra energy to move through your busy day, you probably turn to caffeine, the college student’s drug of choice.

But what are the effects of caffeine on a college student? Are there any positive or negative effects of caffeine on student performance? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways that caffeine impacts students so you can decide if caffeine is right for you.

Students and Caffeine

Caffeine is well-known for its effect on alertness. Caffeine causes people to feel more awake and more alert, and many people use caffeine to help get themselves going in the morning after waking up, or to stay up later at night to do more when their bodies want to sleep. By most measures, caffeine is the most popular and most widely consumed drug on the face of the earth.

Caffeine is available almost everywhere a college student goes. Every campus has one or more coffee spots so students can get their fix, and caffeine is also found in most of the soft drinks such as sodas sold in vending machines and convenience stores and on offer at most dining halls. Some students also ingest caffeine pills for a quick hit of the drug. With the wide availability of caffeine, it’s no wonder students consume so much of it.

As you might expect, caffeine is wildly popular on college campuses, but it’s not just because the caffeine helps students to stay up late. College students also have high rates of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders, and many use caffeine to self-medicate. 

One of the biggest reasons students turn to caffeine is to get a quick hit of energy so they can write their academic essays assigned in college. Writing essays is a massive source of student stress, and as a result, students often look to get help from academic experts from a professional writing service like SmartWritingService.com if they can’t figure out the best way to write a paper themselves. When it comes to choosing between guzzling caffeine while struggling to write an essay and outsourcing your stress to a writing service, there are good reasons to choose the option that doesn’t involve caffeine. 

Consequences of Caffeine

According to a 2021 study in the journal Cureus, students consume twice the safe level of caffeine on average. Two-thirds of college students’ caffeine intake comes from coffee. This has many consequences. After all, caffeine is a psychoactive substance, and any chemical that alters brain chemistry can have potential consequences on your brain and your behavior.

Increased alertness and concentration

Caffeine impacts your cognitive performance by playing a role in your level of alertness, attention, and concentration. This can be considered a good thing for college students when they need to stay focused during long study sessions, but that focus comes at a price for students who may not get enough rest.

Disrupted sleep

As indicated above, caffeine can impact your sleep. Consuming caffeine late in the day, particularly right before bed, can disrupt your sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Any reduction in the amount of sleep you get can have negative consequences for your academic performance and overall health.

Increased anxiety

The more you use caffeine in high amounts, the more likely you will be to experience negative emotional effects. Caffeine can cause or exacerbate anxiety symptoms in some people. You may experience increased heart rate, jitteriness, and nervousness. For college students who are already struggling with high levels of stress, the additional jitteriness caffeine causes can be difficult to deal with.


At the extreme end of the spectrum, too much caffeine use can produce similar results to any other chemical addiction. Regular use of caffeine can create dependency, which means individuals need increasing amounts of caffeine to achieve the same effects. You may find yourself drinking double or even triple the amount of coffee you used to. But if you try to stop, you can experience unpleasant effects. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, and irritability. These symptoms often lead users to resume caffeine consumption to mitigate or avoid them.

Negative health effects

Over the long term, too much caffeine can have lasting impacts on your body. Consuming large amounts of caffeine can lead to increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, and gastrointestinal problems.

Overall, the effects of caffeine on college students are evident. While caffeine can provide short-term benefits if you need a quick burst of energy after a restless night or to pull an all-nighter, it’s important to use it in moderation and carefully consider all of the potential negative consequences before you have that third (or fourth, or fifth) cup of coffee. It’s also important to keep in mind that not everybody responds to caffeine the same way, so you’ll want to consider your own particular circumstances and what works for you before making a reasoned judgment about how much caffeine you should be consuming.