By Jake Edwards
Energy drinks. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, sometimes they’re just what you need to get through the rest of your day. Most simply assume that drinking one or two will give you the burst of energy you want and will have little or no consequences, but are energy drinks really worth it?
Typically drunk for their invigorating qualities, many use them as replacements for coffee or tea in the morning or when they need a boost or during the evening for late-night study sessions. The only problem is that the large dose of caffeine in the average energy drink puts some in an extremely low-energy state shortly afterward. So is the productivity potentially gained in the short but vigorous caffeine-fueled period more than any productivity lost in the crash afterward? And what about any costs to the user’s health? After Charis [Denison] addressed Sonoma Academy about the health problems of energy drinks, there is a possibility that many students changed their opinions of the drinks and altered their drinking habits, altering the worth of consumption. To answer all these questions, I decided to interview numerous Sonoma Academy students to see if I could get answers to all my questions and see if the cost-benefit problem of energy drinks actually makes them worth it.
The key fact that makes this question hard to answer is that all the students I interviewed reacted so differently to the caffeine in energy drinks. Some barely react to caffeine and even avoid the seemingly inevitable crash later on, but others become very energized and jittery and have a comparatively terrible crash after the caffeine has evacuated their bloodstream. Even so, those who drank energy drinks even semi-regularly drink them either in the morning or during lunch for the energy boost, but only a couple admitted to using them to power through all-night study sessions.
I also asked if what Charis told us about some of the health consequences of energy drinks altered their perceptions of energy drinks or would alter any drinking habits. Most said that they definitely looked at and thought about the drinks differently, but not all were determined to actually drink less. The only people who felt that they could fall victim to any of these health issues were those who drank them relatively routinely.
After gathering all the evidence from my interviews, I think that I can say that energy drinks are not worth it, but not because of some assumed inevitable crash. Instead, they are ineffective at what they are made to do simply because one’s reaction to caffeine is so unpredictable that they become inefficient ways of getting a burst of energy. This may make them worth it for some, but because it is terrible choice for others, taking chances with energy drinks makes it not worthwhile overall, meaning it is impossible to conclusively say if they make people in general more or less productive.
Still, it is important to reiterate that everybody has different reactions to caffeine, so the effects can vary greatly from person to person, as some felt no effects from the drinks, making them useless for their intended purpose, while others said that they often felt too amped up and jittery to actually be productive. But perhaps the most important long-term effects are the potential health problems and issues that have recently been associated with energy drinks, and the students I interviewed who consumed them seemed skeptical about stopping, as teenagers tend to be terrible at rationalizing long-term effects, be they positive or negative. Though impossible to tell with this survey, the health effects could certainly be harmful in the future, making energy drinks a bad choice not only for improving your study skills but for your well-being.