How To Tell If You're A Coffeeholic

How To Tell If You're A Coffeeholic

It's time to face the facts, coffee lovers.

According to a survey of Zagat readers in 2014, 87 percent of Americans drank coffee every day. Those surveyed drank, on average, 2.3 cups of coffee a day. If you drink more than this, as I usually do, you just might be verging on the sacred title of coffeeholic.

Now, I know what you're thinking. There's no way I could be drinking too much coffee. Four cups before noon is just how I roll!

Trust me: I'm thinking the exact same thing.

As I write this article, I'm actually hopped up on delicious java, courtesy of my school's coffee machine in the cafeteria. (Tragically, my Keurig hasn't been working properly since the end of last semester.) So I understand your daily pain of getting out of bed and rushing to get that first cup of coffee before class or work. It's a ritual for which I hold the utmost respect. But as I've been consuming more and more coffee as my workload drastically increases -- hello, two essays, two projects, one presentation and one short story due by the beginning of May! -- I've begun to wonder whether the amount of coffee I drink is simply too much. Writing this article is a way to not only help myself become more educated about the (is it even possible?) harmful effects of drinking too much coffee, but also to help all of us understand when it's time to cut back for our own health's sake.

How much coffee is too much?

In college, students learn to survive on coffee to balance out the fact that we've only gotten three or four hours of sleep the previous night, thanks to whatever studying or homework needed to be done. Or maybe we finally just relaxed and didn't realize how late it was until we remembered our 8 a.m. class the next day. Whatever it may be, students adapt to a need for coffee just to stay awake throughout the day. I, personally, find that I need at least one nap on days that I have an 8 a.m. class, sometimes two. And that's after I've already had about three or four cups of coffee in the morning, which are usually followed by about two more in the afternoon and evening while I work on homework.

According to the Mayo Clinic, up to about four 8-ounce cups of coffee a day is safe for adults. Any more than that and there can be side effects, which include but are not limited to insomnia, restlessness, stomach upset, and irritability. (That last one is fairly ironic since most of us are already just as irritable before our coffee.) It's important to keep in mind that most coffee cups -- whether at a coffee shop, Starbucks, or your own home mugs -- are often either 12, 16, or 20 ounces If you drink two 16-ounce cups, you're drinking your maximum for the day, even though you might not realize it.

The other day, I made the questionable life choice of drinking seven shots of espresso. Even though I'd eaten, I felt so sick since I haven't had that much espresso in several months. My body isn't accustomed to much more than black coffee, and I worried whether I would ever be able to sleep again. I could feel my heart beating in my chest at what seemed like the speed of light, but when I checked my pulse it seemed perfectly normal -- I was just so jittery I couldn't think straight.

One 8-ounce cup of coffee has 95 milligrams of caffeine, while one 1-ounce shot of espresso has 64 milligrams. This means that the daily maximum of caffeine one should intake is about 380 mg. When I had seven shots of espresso, though, I had about 448 mg. It's no wonder I was feeling sick and couldn't concentrate. A caffeine overdose is about 500 mg of coffee. Thinking back on it now, I realize that I was one shot of espresso away from officially overdosing on coffee -- but the scariest part is, I've had eight shots of espresso before, so about 512 mg of caffeine, and I felt relatively fine. My tolerance just a few months ago was much higher, and I rarely stopped when I hit 380 mg of caffeine; I didn't even realize eight shots was too much. I just needed my coffee.

When should I stop drinking coffee for the day?

The half-life of caffeine is around four to six hours, so it is suggested to stop drinking coffee about six hours before bedtime. Coffee, and caffeine in general, can affect the body by prolonging sleep latency, shortening total sleep time, increasing light sleep while shortening deep sleep time, and causing more frequent awakenings. Generally, many people choose to stop drinking coffee after noon, but you can stretch it out just a few hours, depending on what time you typically go to sleep. But beware: even decaf still has a little bit of caffeine they just can't get out.


It's also important to think about how much sugar you're intaking if you get lots of fancy drinks from Starbucks or take your coffee with three sugars. Luckily, I drink mine black, so I don't have to worry about unwanted calories and sugars -- but if you're not like me, then you should.

You can actually track how long caffeine will be in your system with caffeine-tracking apps for your phone. For example, Caffeine Zone 2, developed at Penn State, takes into account the specific coffee you're drinking, how quickly you drink it, etc. Apps like these can help you regulate that your coffee drinking does not cause you to have more than the recommended 380 mg of caffeine in your system at any point.

I'm not even going to verge on the subject of coffee addiction, because I'd rather not know whether it's applicable to me. If you'd like some information on it, though, you can find that here. From what I skimmed of that article, headaches are a symptom of caffeine withdrawal -- but since I've had chronic migraines for years, I may continue to live in denial of any coffee addiction.

If you want to be reassured that your own possible coffee addiction is justified, a study done last year is here to save the day. When looking at coffee consumption among nonsmokers who drink between one and three cups a day, they have a 6 to 8 percent lower risk of dying than non-coffee drinkers. Those who drink between three and five cups a day -- regardless of the symptoms that much coffee might give you -- have a 12 to 15 percent lower risk of dying. In the end, it might just be that us coffeeholics will outlive non-coffee drinkers -- unless, of course, there's a coffee shortage that rolls around first.

Cover Image Credit: www.mindthegraph.com

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The Stigma that Comes With Being an Arts and Humanities Major

Believe it or not, we want to be successful and change the world just as much as anyone else.

During my first week of college, my roommate and I made the foolish mistake of thinking we could walk to a store, about three plus miles there and back, from our dorm room in the blaring heat that still lingered from the summer. After finally getting to the store we both decided that instead of walking all the way back, we were going to call an Uber.

This was my first experience with an Uber so she ended up handling it, and even after being on the phone with our driver for about 5 minutes it still took him 10 more minutes to find our location. When he finally found us, we got into the car and he greeted us almost with an insult by saying you girls obviously don’t know your East from your West. So right from the start my first Uber experience was an interesting one.

A drive that should’ve taken 5 minutes max took about 10, so naturally, our driver started a conversation with us. “What are your majors?” My roommate went first and said Bio-Chem and the driver went on to say something to the effect of that’s good, we need more people like you in this world. Obviously, in my head I was thinking that sounds so impressive when she says it out loud to people, what a tough act to follow.

So when he asked me what mine was, I said Communication Studies and Creative Writing, already preparing myself for an outspoken opinion from a man who I’d probably never speak to again and had no influence on my life whatsoever. As expected, he replied with a sarcastic laugh and a good luck making money.

In my mind I just thought about how funny and ironic it was that an UBER driver of all people was telling me good luck making money, but I simply replied with a, “I do plan on making money” and was backed up with a positive statement from my roommate because she was just about as fed up with this guy as I was. This is the stigma that comes with being an Arts and Humanities major.

When we’re younger, as soon as we can talk and comprehend conversations, adults pose us with the question of, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I always thought this was such a foolish question to ask a child so young that is alive but hasn’t actually begun to live yet. But our naive little minds usually answer with things like a doctor or a veterinarian- basically things that are practical and that our parents feed into our minds at a young age.

Once in a while, you get a “crazy” answer like an astronaut or a chef. I, like many children, always had my little play doctors kit and was always taking fake temperatures with my thermometer or listening to heart beats with my fake stethoscope. So naturally whenever my mom asked me that question I said I wanted to be a doctor over and over again.

So the day came where I was at the doctor’s office for an appointment and my mom said to me, “Tell the doctor what you want to be when you grow up.” expecting that I would say the answer I had rehearsed with her over and over again. To her surprise I said right to the doctor’s face, “I want to be a yellow kitty cat when I grow up.” and yup, the rest is history.

High school is the place that is supposed to educate you on various subjects and ultimately prepare you for the future. So, of course, our research paper topic in 9th grade was to pick three careers we were interested in pursuing in the future. An important point to make here is that it’s okay to not have your future planned out when you’re so young, for you still have so much to learn and so much time to grow. The three careers I picked were a dermatologist, a lawyer, and an engineer, all for different reasons.

A dermatologist seemed to be a reasonable choice because growing up I had very bad eczema flare-ups all over my legs and was so embarrassed to wear shorts anywhere. It was absolutely humiliating to have people ask me why my skin was bleeding or why I had band-aids all over my legs, and I wanted to help spare people from that humiliation. My whole life people told me I should be a lawyer because I knew how to argue, which was a stupid reason to be interested in a profession, but hey, it couldn’t hurt to look into.

I chose an engineer because a lot of my family members were in that career field and would always give me lots of information on what they had to do, which intrigued me. One thing all three of these professions had in common when I did the research was a pretty high pay scale, which is what most people strive to find. No one purposely doesn’t want to make money so I guess that’s why I kept such conventional and “safe” careers in mind for a big portion of my time in high school.

Much like the people who watch Grey’s Anatomy determine that they want to be a doctor after binge watching so many seasons, I was convinced I wanted to be an oncologist after reading the book and watching the movie The Fault in our Stars. It sounds so cliche (I hate cliches) but I absolutely loved both the book and the movie adaptation, like so many other teenagers at the time.

I was determined that I would be a doctor who would help continue the stories of real-life people with cancer, unlike the tragic fate of Augustus Waters. My whole high school career I was a straight-A student in every subject, so it seemed like something in that field would be achievable as long as I worked hard. This way I would really make a difference in the world. But as time went on, I found myself watching more and more movies and reading more and more books and changing my future profession based on what fictional character’s job I was captivated with that week.

That’s when I first realized I didn’t actually want to pursue any of the jobs I saw on the screen or the page but rather wanted to be the one making up these stories for others to see. I had always also been the person to sit back and watch how people interact and interpret things symbolically, rather than scientifically.

No matter where you’re from or where you go, you’re bound to hear most of the success stories and the people that make money are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) majors. I’ve always been fascinated by science and the way things work and have appreciated math and can see why people enjoy it, that’s why I consistently tried hard to understand every subject in school.

I finally decided after a year of thinking about it that while I can appreciate these majors that are typically the ones that make lots of money, I could never truly love doing any of them. It breaks my heart when all the people around me constantly shove ideas into my brain that I’m not ever going to amount to anything because it’s not conventional and it’s going to be hard to make money. We already live in a world full of people pretending to be something they’re not, so why should I just be one more contributor to overflowing pile of unhappiness and fakeness?

The area I grew up in is full of a bunch of washed up townees who will never stop trying to relive their high school years either through their memories or now vicariously through their children. The closest anyone has ever come to achieving an unrealistic dream or a mild amount of celebrity is through collegiate or sometimes major league sports. It sometimes seems impossible for me to ever truly pursue my unrealistic dreams of someday writing a novel because of all of the figurative disease and decay of the dead dreams of people that will never leave our small town.

So believe it or not, a lot of Arts and Humanities majors already know that the odds are against them. With me pursuing Communication Studies and Creative Writing degrees, there’s a lot of built-in stigma already. But chances are, if you talk to any of us within the Arts and Humanities majors without discouraging us, you’ll find that we are some of the most passionate people when it comes to discussing how exactly we want to change the world.

Some people may think I’m foolish for having a future that may be uncertain, but I know now that someday I want to change the world with my thoughts and ideas, the way the thoughts and ideas of others have changed the world for me.

Cover Image Credit: Ian Schneider

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To Myself, I Forgive You

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball

For the times I felt hopeless due to a mistake, big or small. For the moments that I couldn't handle staring back at my reflection in the mirror because of something I did to upset myself. For the countless hours of being so hard on myself for being so different. For treating others like gold, and treating myself like paper. So easily crumbled into tiny pieces.

To myself, I forgive you.

I forgive you for the times that you believe what the world says about you, rather than God's truth about you. I forgive you for the daily moments of self doubt and curses towards something physical that you can't change. I forgive you for the times that you cannot get everything on your to-do list done in time. No matter how many workouts you skip, or times that you feel anxious instead of hopeful. For every goal unaccomplished. For every time your fear of germs takes over your thinking. I forgive you, I forgive you, I forgive you. Yes, even for that.

I forgive you for your future mistakes. I know that you are going to mess up over and over again. You are going to hurt others without knowing, and it is going to sting so badly watching them turn away. You are going to yell at yourself for letting somebody slip away because you pushed them away with all your might. These mistakes that you have been making your whole life will happen again and again. You can do what you can to prevent hurting yourself and others, but you are imperfect. That's all there is to it. Forgive yourself by remembering that you are going to fail every single day.

So here is to the times of talking yourself into tears. Here is to every second you spend disappointed in yourself over a simple mistake. You are doing what you can. You do not need to have all the answers, and you won't. You don't need to worry so much. You don't need to be so concerned about who society wants you to be. But if you do or you are, I forgive you.

For your past, present, and future. I forgive you.

It's time to spend every second loving who I am and accepting my mistakes. I want to continue growing, and I will. He already took all of my mistakes and sin for me at the cross. I just have to live. I am forgiven. By Him and by me.

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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