Caffeine might lead to problems among teens
What does caffeine do to teens? I understand an iced vanilla latte tastes like dessert, a caffeinated drink is as accessible as a bottle of water, and it feels grown-up to be toting a Starbucks cup. But all of this caffeine may be amplifying your anxiety, compromising tonight’s sleep, tanking tomorrow’s school performance, inhibiting nutrient absorption, dehydrating your cells, and when mixed with alcohol, causing real trouble.
Let’s look at the evidence. The power of caffeine
Caffeine is widely considered a drug, a chemical that changes brain function and affects mood, cognition or behaviour. It may be a drug that is socially acceptable, universally used, even cool, but it still causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and a lack of attention when removed from the diet.
How much is healthy?
Caffeine is not a nutrient; you do not need it to be healthy. In fact, it can leave you lacking nutrients because it has been shown to inhibit calcium. Caffeine is also a diuretic, so it causes the body to release water - and the more caffeinated drinks you consume, the less likely you are to drink water.
The American Academy of Paediatrics says that adolescents should consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine a day (less than the amount found in a Starbucks grande latte). It also takes the position that “stimulant-containing energy drinks have no place in the diets of children or adolescents.” The Institute of Medicine does not support selling caffeinated products to school-age children.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 60 percent of middle schoolers and more than 70 per cent of high schoolers do not get enough sleep on school nights. Some of their sleep problems can be attributed to caffeine, which can remain in the body for seven hours after consumption and blocks the neurochemical that triggers sleepiness from doing its job. Teens who lack sleep perform worse the next day.
Sleep is important for teens in other ways. Adequate sleep contributes to proper growth and brain development. During childhood and adolescence, the brain goes through a period called synaptic pruning when unnecessary connections are consolidated; this consolidation mostly happens during sleep. Also, most of an adolescent’s growth hormone is secreted during sleep.
Caffeine has also been shown to increase heart rate, cortisol, blood pressure and anxiety, and to decrease impulse control. After an initial morning rush of caffeine, you may find yourself lagging through class because your body is craving more. Taste preferences and eating habits are often cemented in childhood and adolescence, so teens, when you consume sweet, caffeinated drinks such as soft drinks and lattes every time you feel sluggish, you are creating a pattern that may be hard to break as an adult.
Caffeine and alcohol
In a recent study, almost one-quarter of college students mixed energy drinks with alcohol. When alcohol, which is a depressant, is combined with caffeine which is a stimulant, the body stays alert longer than if drinking just alcohol. This prompts people to consume more alcohol because they do not feel the depressant, sleepy effect of alcohol, leading to higher blood alcohol levels. A report in the Journal of Caffeine Research entitled “Alcohol and Caffeine: The Perfect Storm” states, “Drinkers who reported mixing alcohol with energy drinks had a threefold risk of being legally intoxicated.” These people also tend to underestimate their intoxication, which can lead to a higher occurrence of risky behaviours. Emergency room visits involving energy drinks have increased in recent years. – Washington Post.