I could physically feel my whole body buzzing with energy. My hands were trembling as I struggled to take notes in class. I looked down at my paper and saw illegible writing. After drinking two cans of Red Bull over the course of six hours, my challenge to drink the energy drink for a week was not off to a good start.
Almost every teenager or adult I know has some varying degree of dependence on caffeine. As someone who consumes virtually no caffeine, I always wondered whether or not caffeine actually did wonders for students’ productivity and focus.
I already knew I wasn’t physically prepared for the challenge, no matter how mentally or emotionally ready I was. I am extremely sensitive to stimulants like sugar and caffeine, and Red Bull is the ultimate dangerous mix of the two.
I started off the week with only two cans on Monday, one at 11 a.m. and one at 5 p.m. Trying to sleep the first night proved impossible — I was restless and fidgety, finally managing to put my body to rest at 5 a.m.
The next day, I upped my dosage to three cans. I figured it would help keep me awake after tossing and turning all night, but the Red Bull proved an ineffective replacement for the sleep I missed. I consumed two cans by the afternoon and I felt cranky, groggy and gross. It was snowing hard outside, too, which made me wish I had the warmth of coffee or tea instead of downing an icy can of Red Bull.
I decided to finish all three before 5 p.m. so my sleep wasn’t impacted again. By late afternoon, I felt much more active and focused. Even after 5 p.m., I was still wide-awake and extremely productive. I managed to finish homework for all of my classes and go to bed by 1:30 a.m., which was surprisingly not bad.
On Wednesday, I decided to slow down on the caffeine intake, just to see if I would crave it after having flooded my body with Red Bull the last two days. Even after seven hours of sleep, I woke up exhausted Wednesday morning and really felt the need for a pick-me-up. I had one Red Bull with breakfast and cut my intake there for the day. Going without more hits during the day didn’t actually make much difference to my mood or productivity, and I was ready for bed by midnight, which worked out pretty well.
I wanted to end the last two days of the week strong and had four cans a day. It drove me crazy — I felt like I was bouncing off the walls, constantly restless and fidgety, unable to focus and even a little anxious. Though the energy drink had improved my productivity on Tuesday, too much left me unable to get any work done the last few days. It made me irritable — I was constantly distracted while studying and no information would sink in.
As a non-caffeine drinker, drinking Red Bull for a week was a real eye-opener — figuratively and literally. I determined that the two main factors in optimizing caffeine intake are quantity and timing. Caffeine addicts seem to have the perfect combination of the two. Drinking too much caffeine and not spacing it out well sent me off the charts, and drinking too late in the day kept me up all night, thus making me crave more the next day.
Consuming caffeine, while beneficial in proper and thought-out doses, can become a dangerous cycle. Though it was an interesting week, I don’t see myself jumping on the caffeine train anytime soon.
Email Ria Mittal at [email protected]