Students who drink a cup of coffee or more have lower grade point averages than those who don't, a new survey suggests.
In a survey of more than 1,000 current college students, researchers with Best Mattress Brand (affiliated with the makers of Amerisleep and Astrabeds) found as students drink more daily cups of coffee, the lower their GPA becomes.
Survey data showed students who drank one cup of coffee a day had a GPA of 3.41, compared to students who drank two cups a day at 3.39. Those who drank five or more cups of coffee had an average GPA of 3.28, according to the survey.
Students who reported drinking two or more cups of coffee a day reported between five and six hours of sleep.
Jeffrey Ellenbogen, assistant professor of neurology, sleep medicine at Johns Hopkins University, is not affiliated with the survey but said daily caffeine use could definitely impact a student's performance.
"If one is a daily consumer of caffeine or feels like they can’t function without it, that’s a time to take a big step back and look at what is the quality of sleep and quantity of sleep," Ellenbogen said.
Regular coffee drinkers are "sleep deficient, an indicator of cognitive impairment," he said. Lack of sleep can impair attention, reaction time, memory and mood. So, yes, it could cause someone to forget the answers to a final exam.
Note: there's a difference between regular coffee drinkers and occasional coffee drinkers. Ellenbogen said a cup of coffee before an exam will boost cognitive function, but someone who is relying on caffeine to function normally experiences the opposite effect. Plus, nothing can replace a good night's sleep — that's about eight hours for a college student.
Caffeine-chugging students who aren't sure how to wean off of the java should make changes slowly or else they could suffer withdrawal (think: horrible headaches). Ellenbogen suggests eliminating evening coffee drinks first, because those are most likely to disrupt sleep. And, don't be afraid to reach out to a doctor or medical professional.
"If a college student is drinking four or five cups of coffee a day, they are probably going to need help from some sort of health care provider," Ellenbogen said. "Those people are really depending on coffee. They aren’t just masking over the sleepiness."
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