Are energy drinks the key to making a good grade?


Carrie Crotzer

Many students turn to energy drinks to make it through finals. These include popular brands like Monster and Red Bull.

Many turned to energy drinks to make it through finals week, but how effective were those caffeine-loaded drinks in helping your performance on tests?


Studies conducted by professors at NKU have found that while they will help you stay awake, there is no evidence they will improve your cognitive performance.


According to NKU Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Cecile A. Marczinski, research shows that energy drinks will not help you study better.


“We’ve done studies on the effects of energy drinks and in fact, it doesn’t really help your cognitive performance all that well,”  Marczinski said. “So you may feel more awake and alert, but in terms of actually studying more effectively, it doesn’t really help you.”


Marczinski said that caffeine is most effective if it is consumed at the first sign of fatigue.

Marczinski explained that while energy drinks will keep you awake, sleep is imperative for the brain to retain information.


“If you’re studying and trying to remember information, you actually need to sleep to allow memory consolidation to occur,”  Marczinski said. “A lot of students skimp on sleep thinking it’s going to help them, but in the long term, they’re better off sleeping a couple of hours instead of trying to stay up really late to study.”


Marczinski cautioned that consuming high doses of caffeine can cause tremors, heart palpitations, nervousness and jitteriness. She also said that if an individual is prone to panic attacks, a high dose of caffeine could send them over the edge.  


“A lot of students are very anxious anyway during exam week and then taking a high dose of caffeine can make that worse,”Marczinski said.


Sophomore Lauren Wooten uses Monster to help her get through finals. She says she only drinks them during finals week to get through exams and while studying.


“For my gen eds, like biology and statistics, I have a lot more material I have to cover and memorize,” Wooten said. “It helps me concentrate. I stay focused a lot longer. I’m not daydreaming, I’m just zoned in on that work, so I can get through chapters a lot quicker.”


Marczinski explained the misconception. She said if you’re tired, energy drinks can help you be a little bit more awake and alert, and if you are falling asleep, then you are obviously not studying very effectively.


“Any of these beverages are fine in moderation. One to two energy drinks per day is usually considered to be in the safe range,”Marczinski said. “You want to stay under 200-300 mg of caffeine per day, that’s usually what the health recommendations are.”


Jamison Wright, an NKU senior exercise science student, also uses Monster to help him study throughout the semester and through exam week.


“Last semester is when I really started drinking them,”Wright said. “I just got tired one day and I wanted to try them. I just felt really focused whenever I drank them, so I just kept drinking them whenever I felt tired and I wanted to be able to focus.”


Wright said he usually drinks about two energy drinks a day. He said that he does not increase his usage during finals week and that his grades actually improved when he started using energy drinks.


“I was taking anatomy, I was always getting a high C+, B-. I started drinking them and I started getting more like a B or B+,” said Wright. “When I’m drinking them, I feel more focused. I feel like I’m actually retaining the information better.”


Wright said that while he would recommend it to some, he knows it’s not for everyone. He knows that some people do not like the way it makes them feel.


“A lot of students have terrible test anxiety or general anxiety,”Marczinski said. “During exam week anxiety levels are high, so keep the caffeine level low, especially if you are prone to anxiety issues.”