Self health awareness: How could your life change?

End of semester brings stress, lack of sleep, and increase in caffeine consumption with students

As the end of the semester approaches, students are typically pressed with projects, papers, and those impending final exams. Many students turn to caffeine consumption in the form of sodas, coffee, and increasingly popular energy drinks in order to stay awake for extended periods of time.

According to the NKU Wellness Center, investing in your personal health first can help to minimize the need for caffeine.

Student Wellness Manager Rachel Bishop said that minimizing the use of caffeine requires changing the behaviors leading to caffeine consumption.

“From the wellness perspective, we advise students to ask themselves, ‘Why am I consuming this?’ This question can be used for most unhealthy food/beverage consumption, not just stimulants like caffeine,” Bishop said.

“If you’re consuming the product as a means to perpetuate unhealthy habits, you should consider reducing your use.”

Many people are inclined to believe that energy drinks can help them purely based on the advertisements they see on television, according to Bishop. Advertisers present energy drinks, including lists of vitamins and herbs found in them, as beneficial to health, going as far as saying that they are dietary supplements.

“I believe that there are students that drink caffeine buying into this idea that it helps them focus and get their work done,” Student Wellness Ambassador Artie Minera said.

“Though it might temporarily help them stay up or focused, in the long run the combination of caffeine and lack of sleep will pose other problems.”

Studies have shown that almost half of all college students consume energy drinks on a regular basis. With this excessive consumption of caffeine, cardiovascular and other problems can arise, according to research presented in 2012 by the University of Maryland-School of Public Health.

With finals just around the corner for NKU students, Bishop said it is important to keep in mind that you only get the energy that you invest into your body. A busy lifestyle isn’t sustainable with the consumption of energy drinks and junk food around the clock.

“Reframe your focus, investing in your health first,” Bishop said. “How would your decisions about scheduling your life change if your health – sleep, stress, relationships, time management, nutrition, and physical activity – was considered first?”

Minera, as a Wellness Ambassador, said he leads by example.

“I do my best to avoid as many caffeinated products as possible. 7-9 hours of sleep is what I try to get,” Minera said.

Bishop recalled the questions regarding personal health, saying, “If you filtered all your decisions through the questions, what would your days look like? How would your exam scores change? How would your stress levels change? And how would that make your feel physically and how would that make you feel about the work that you do?”

“It may be true – and  the social “norm”—for student schedules to be busy and to lack routine, but we often have more control over this than we allow ourselves to admit.”