User’s Guide to Caffeine

Adib Towfiq | Staff Photographer

Adib Towfiq | Staff Photographer
As is the case with any psychoactive substance, the positive effects of caffeine are accompanied by side effects, so proper use is important.

Caffeine is recognized as a psychoactive substance, yet it is the most commonly used drug in the world. Undoubtedly, caffeine is vital to the college lifestyle. Some students consume it to stay on top in terms of mental and physical performance, while drinks with this compound fuel others during exam weeks. As is the case with many adults, many students struggle to wake up in the morning and go about their everyday routine without that brief visit to Starbucks or Cha for Tea.
While caffeine consumption is a societal norm, it is important to note that it is still a drug. As is the case with any other psychoactive substance, any positive effects are accompanied by side effects, so proper use is important. This will not only promote safety, but it will also allow an individual to consume caffeine to its maximum potential. Steady use to keep going strong for several hours is obviously a better alternative than drinking too much too fast and burning out quickly!
One of the most important aspects of the optimal use of caffeine is dosage. As mentioned earlier, many people simply chug a bottle of a caffeinated drink, or gulp down a large coffee, in the hopes that the large quantity will keep them going for much longer. However, an article from Chris Chatham on indicates that large quantities of caffeine in a short amount of time will not give the full effects of the drug. The best way to use caffeine is to pace oneself by consuming smaller quantities at regular time intervals.
According to one study that Chatham cites, consuming 0.3 milligrams of caffeine for each kilogram of an individual’s body weight is optimal because it extends your functionality without causing fatigue and promotes effective use of cognitive abilities. While this is a reliable estimate, each individual will have different needs and factors to consider in terms of caffeine use. The bottom line is to consume slowly, preferably in measurable amounts and at a steady rate. This will ensure that the body will keep on going for an extended period of time instead of crashing after the initial caffeine high.
While using correct dosage is essential, Chatham also recognizes two other factors: that caffeine is best used in conjunction with other compounds (hence, the specific ingredients in caffeinated beverages), and the importance of knowing which cognitive functions caffeine will aid for a particular person. While tea, coffee or soda would not taste as good to some without sugar, Chatham argues that there is a more important underlying reason for the use of this compound: sugar complements caffeine very well, enhancing its positive effects.
There is not enough research about some of the other complementary substances, but some studies that he refers to suggest that flavonoids (derived from plant pigments), nicotine, extract from green tea and grapefruit juice may also improve the efficiency and benefits of caffeine use. It may help if these chemicals are in the body along with caffeine, but it should also be noted that caffeine is not some magical cure-all for completely driving away sleepiness and improving brain functions. In fact, caffeine does not rid one of sleepiness