Constantly Caffeinated

By Avalon Kelly

Drooping eyelids, a fatigued mind, an unfocused gaze—these are the symptoms I experience if I don’t have my morning coffee.  And I’m not alone; 83.2% of American teens drink coffee daily.  Today, teens become addicted to caffeine at a younger age than ever, harmfully impacting their wallets and their sleep.

Early start times and late nights spent working often necessitate a steady flow of caffeine for teens.  Frequently, high schoolers will stop at Starbucks or Pete’s on the way to school and spend about $6 on coffee.  This small sum quickly adds up; in fact, the average teen spends a total of $2,008 on coffee every year.  For minimum-wage workers, this hefty spending constitutes about 15% of their annual salary.  I recommend that teens make their own coffee at home (for free!) with a simple coffee machine if they want to save some money.

Moreover, excessive caffeine intake is linked to poor sleep health.  Most notably, caffeine consumers spend much less time in the sleep stages NREM-3 and NREM-4.  These stages give the body time to refresh and repair any tissue damage.  Poor sleep caused by caffeine also (ironically) perpetuates caffeine addictions, as users will feel like they need caffeine in order to function.  Luckily, we can prevent caffeine from harming our sleep by not having any after 4pm—this gives enough time for your body to metabolize most of it.

As caffeine addictions become more prevalent in teens, it is important to keep in mind the importance of financial and physical health.