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.
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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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Advice to our younger selves.
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Everyone has a first time. We're all at different stages of our lives when it happens, which impacts how we approach the situation and how we feel about it immediately after and in reflections. Some people idealize their first time, some people regret it, some people feel nothing about it. I agonized over my virginity.

I wanted nothing more than to throw it at the first willing participant. I felt that it made me someone inferior to my friends who had already had sex, like somehow I was missing out on some great secret of life or somehow I was less mature than them. I spent a lot of time wishing it would just happen, and then one day, it did when I wasn't expecting it. I don't regret my first time, but because I had wished for it to happen for so long, I had built up this image in my head of how it would be that was completely unrealistic.

So, this is for those girls like me whose imaginations get the best of them. Here are some tips to ease your worries and prepare you for what it's really going to be like.

1. It's going to be awkward.

Not just the first time, every time. No matter how much porn or how many blogs or erotic fiction you read, you will not have any idea what you're doing. The other person probably won't, either. There are too many variables, and you're both so concerned with doing it well, you'll be focused on too many things to properly control your limbs.

2. Don't think about your body.

The angles that are required for things to work leave both participants in awkward positions with limbs in strange places. Don't look at your body; don't even think about where your limbs are. Just keep your eyes and mind on the other person and what they're doing and how you're feeling. If you're feeling bad, let them know, so you can change it. If you're feeling good, enjoy it.

3. Don't do it drunk.

Not even a little tipsy, at least not for the first few times. Alcohol throws in another variable and another reason your limbs are flailing listlessly on top of other unforeseen complications. Just wait until you've had a little practice to introduce alcohol into the mix. You want to actually remember your first time and understand what's going on.

4. You're not going to feel any different after.

I expected to feel a weight being lifted or some newfound maturity, but I really didn't feel any different at all. That's because I really was just the same girl as before. Finally having lost this imaginary flower didn't make me physically any different at all.

5. You're going to feel something.

There wasn't some profound emotional release afterward, either, but I did feel a little different. Again, not in the sense that something had actually change, but I felt different because I had placed so much importance on this, on having sex, and now it had happened. I wanted there to be some big release or celebratory moment, but really, I just felt the same. I didn't even feel a little more mature or experienced. I was positive that if I ever did it again, I would still have absolutely no idea what to do (which was true).

Cover Image Credit: Seventeen

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working with special needs Children changed my life

Sometimes people do not take the time to get to know these people. But I did.

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I have never thought about special needs kids before. I have never thought about how their life may be different or may not be the same. To me, these kids were someone that had something wrong with their chromosomes. I had seen them walking around the school and around town. It actually was not till the beginning of my senior year that I finally took a step back and looked at the big picture.

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Take the time to get to know them.

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https://twitter.com/frankkat1

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