What is the caffeine intake in students at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University and how does it relate to academic performance and stress?
Stress, lack of sleep, and the desire to succeed academically, may contribute to caffeine use. A single dose of 100- 200 mg caffeine is optimal for cognitive benefits. Excessive intake may contribute to less sleep, greater stress, and poor academic performance.
Purpose: To assess the current caffeine consumption by junior and senior college students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University (CSB/SJU), and the relationship between caffeine consumption and daytime sleepiness, perceived stress, and academic success.
Methods: Approval was obtained from the CSB/SJU's Institutional Review Board (IRB). An anonymous, self-administered, electronic questionnaire was distributed by IT Services and 327 students responded (n=1815). Data collected contained current caffeine consumption during a typical week, cumulative GPA, sleepiness, and perceived stress. Daytime sleepiness was assessed using the Epworth Sleep Scale (ESS) and perceived stress was assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS).
Results: Students consume around 303 ± 173 mg [range= 0-1878] of caffeine daily. Only 11 respondents [0.03%] reported not consuming caffeine. Coffee is the major source of caffeine followed by chocolate products (n=236 and 177, respectively). The majority of caffeine was consumed in the morning and afternoon (n= 231 and 200, respectively) in comparison to the evening and night (n=108 and 51, respectively). The average score of the ESS from both males and females was 8 ± 4 on a scale of 0-24 meaning students have an average amount of daytime sleepiness [range= 0-20]. Scores from 10-15 is considered excessive daytime sleepiness. The average score of the PSS from both males and females was 18 ± 6 on a scale of 0-40; meaning students have low-medium stress [range= 0-33]. Only energy drinks correlated with having a higher GPA (p<.0001). There was no statistical significance between total caffeine consumption and daytime sleepiness (F-ratio= 0.5521), total caffeine consumption and perceived stress (F-ratio= 1.4001), and total caffeine consumption and GPA (F-ratio= 3.2126) (α= 0.05). Males consume more energy drinks than females (p=0.0118).
Conclusions: The average amount of caffeine reported is not excessive and caffeine does not correlate with stress, daytime sleepiness, or GPA [except for Energy Drinks]. The majority of students are consuming less than 200 mg caffeine/day; 18% of students are consume between 200-400 mg/day (n=60); 75% consume under 200 mg/day (n=245); and 7% consume more than 400 mg/day (n=22). The highest intake was 1,878 mg/day which may be a concern.
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