Surviving College Without Caffeine

Aug 10, 2010 12:51pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Natalie Podgorski blogs: Fall semester is almost here, and that means days in the classroom and nights spent studying.  As the first round of exams approaches, libraries will begin to fill with students cramming the night before the test, sipping coffee or energy drinks to help get them through their study session.
And then there are those who find other ways to stay awake, even without liquid energy pulsing through their veins.
Suzanne Whitehead, a junior at Brigham Young University in Utah is double majoring in international relations and sociocultural anthropology. She says that as the semester begins to wind down she pulls all nighters as frequently as once a week.  But she has never drunk coffee, an energy drink or even a soda to help her get through those long nights.
Instead, she's found that her healthy lifestyle is enough. "If I run, eat well and take my vitamins then I can usually do what I need to get done."  Whitehead said she'll also study in groups to stay awake.
BYU is a dry campus — and we're not just talking about alcohol. Caffeinated beverages aren't sold on campus either. When asked why BYU doesn't sell caffeinated drinks, school spokesman Joe Hadfield said, "It's simply based on our customers' expectations."  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns the school and in 2009, 97 percent of the student body were Mormon.
For students at BYU who do drink caffeine, they don't have to go far to get it. According to Whitehead, "right across the street at the 7-Eleven you can buy a coke."  But that isn't a purchase she plans on making, even with a busy fall schedule, she'll just run a few miles each day instead.
Of course, it's not just BYU students who avoid caffeine. Chad Birt, a 22-years-old Arizona State University graduate, avoids coffee and soda while studying because it makes him feel jittery.  He said he became familiar with all-nighters in college but listening to music helped him focus and remain alert. Electro music worked best for him because of the "good vibes and killer beat."
During his last semester Birt spent all night working on a 10-page paper — a final he had put off until the last minute. He credits finishing the paper, and passing the class, to Led Zeppelin and Interpol.  Without those bands Birt said he wouldn't have made it past midnight.
Chase Olsen, a junior studying natural resources at Montana State University, also recommends playing music but he needs more than good tunes to stay awake. "If I did homework for three hours straight in
the night, I would fall asleep. I need to walk around and keep stimulated," said Olsen.
Olsen said he avoids drinking caffeine to stay alert because he doesn't want to become dependent. During the rare times when Olsen does drink coffee or soda, he notices an extra energy boost, but he doesn't want the effectiveness to wear off by drinking it during the semester to stay awake. "Coffee is a pretty tasty beverage every once in a while," he said, "but overall I don't like the side-effects of the caffeine."

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