Early College Experiences
The first few weeks of college have been scary trying to adapt to the new lifestyle. Making friends and trying to remember where the different buildings are located has been stressful enough. Next thing you know…exams are just around the corner. And NOT just one but several of them! In addition, MANY assignments like essays and annoying math problems are due soon.
There is just so much to do, and our bodies can only handle so much after a long day. After a brutal day of class, all we want to do is just relax for the rest of the day, hang out with friends, or watch a cool movie before another day of class. The last thing on our minds is more school work. Unfortunately, the assignments do not just go away on its own and they must still be completed.
Our Next Action?
Despite how tired and annoyed we feel about school at the moment, the assignment needs to be done regardless and a good score on the exam is a MUST! What do we do next? We seek for a temporary increase in alertness and concentration to do what is needed to be done. What is that magical solution/drink that we often use? COFFEE!
What Coffee Does for Us?
Coffee, a stimulant, is known for helping our minds to become more alert and less tired. This helps us to find that extra energy and focus to push ourselves to do that necessary assignment or ace that exam.
Something We May Not Realize…
That first coffee drink, might not have tasted too great, but you were amazed with the results of it as you start to see its benefits with time. As more tests and assignments are around the corner, you now realize you have a tool that you can use to help provide that boost. You may also start to have an acquired taste for coffee by that point and just the scent of it brings you joy.
An average cost of coffee (from Starbucks or Coffee Bene) can range anywhere between $3 to $6 with tax (more expensive for the special brew and large sizes). Before you know it, a cup of coffee each day for a month can REALLY add up and cost anywhere between $90 to $180. Given a full year, that is $1,080 to $2,160 just on coffee alone! With that money, you can probably pay off a semester of classes!
As a college student who may already be in debt from loans and spending that much on coffee alone, this can create a huge headache (especially if combined with caffeine withdrawals). Yet, you still need to survive school.
What I Did as an Alternative
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Realizing how much the cost of coffee really stacks up over the years, I tried finding an alternative to that caffeinated drink and I did something: Caffeine Pills! (Seems almost obvious…but perhaps not!)
A single bottle of caffeine (from Prolab on Amazon) costs about $8 and contains 100 tablets with 200 mg of caffeine each (which is equivalent to a cup of coffee). You are looking to spend about 8 cents per tablet which has the equivalent amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee ($3 to $6). If you plan to use caffeine pills for a year, that totals up to about $30 for that whole year (versus the $1,080 to $2,160). This could save you a significant amount of money especially for those who are struggling financially and need that extra boost for school (or work).
My Experience with Caffeine Pills and Coffee
I noticed that when I take caffeine pills (and same with regular coffee), I notice a suppressed appetite. This is most likely from the acidic effects from the caffeine that lead to less acid production by the stomach. This may sound bad but put it another way, it just means you will be eating less which is awesome if you are trying to lose weight.
When drinking coffee, one will have a tendency to use the restroom more because coffee is a diuretic. Diuretics are a chemical compound which is commonly used for those who need to get rid of excess retained water such as those with high blood pressure or heart failure. This can leave you feeling exhausted and dehydrated. Caffeine pills, on the other hand, do not have that strong of a diuretic effect and I can sometimes go 3 or 4 hours without that urge to go to the restroom. Regardless, one should still be hydrated to stay healthy.
In terms of focus and concentration, caffeine has a more burst like type of effect whereas coffee has a more stable, constant effect. Depending on your specific circumstance, you can choose to consume either caffeine pills or coffee. If a test is coming up in an hour? Go for the caffeine pill. If at home and need a steady state dose of caffeine, you can do either coffee or caffeine pill. Knowing that caffeine pills have a burst like effect, I recommend starting at a low dose such as cutting the pill into half or quarters (equivalent to coffee sips) before moving on to the full pill (full cup of coffee). Do take into account that caffeine pills can last up to 3 to 6 hours.
As with any substance, always consume them in moderation. You will start to develop tolerance if you constantly take it and for consecutive days. Therefore, it is recommended to take ONLY when needed such as those days when you have a big exam or assignment coming up. Perhaps use the weekend to detoxify yourself or after you take that exam.
Keep in mind that your body also needs sleep. Going 2+ days straight pulling off an all-nighter may not always work out. It is still always better to plan your schedule ahead of time.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Try to avoid consuming over 400 mg of caffeine (pill or coffee) per day
- The pill itself is EXTREMELY BITTER so gulp it down quickly with fluids
- Overdose of caffeine can cause
- Stay hydrated
- Sleep is still necessary (to retain info and be healthy)
- Caffeine should NEVER be a substitute for quality sleep
- Always go for better planning than cramming
- Remember to give yourself breaks and enjoy fun things during your time in college or in general. Do not deprive yourself of those things, life is already hard as it is.
Caffeine pills can be an alternative to a cup of coffee. As with any substance (even with food), always consume in moderation. Excessive consumption of anything can be harmful to the body. If you really enjoy the taste of coffee with cream and sugar, please feel free to continue to do so. This was just a way to help save you some money and by no means are you obligated to try this method only.
Did you enjoy this life hack for a coffee alternative that is more affordable? Please leave a comment below!