Should You Drink Coffee While Studying? The Answer May Surprise You


As a hardworking student, you are always looking for ways to stay awake and focused while studying. Whether it’s coffee, tea, unhealthy energy drinks or blaring music, students have many ways of keeping themselves up to study for tomorrow’s big test.

The big question is, should you drink coffee while you’re studying? In reality, it depends on the person. It’s all about knowing when and how much to drink without overdoing it. You know yourself best, so be honest with yourself.

If you are also wondering about the effect of eating while studying, check out my article on whether it is better to study before or after eating at the link below:

Link to Is It Better to Study Before or After Eating Article

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Here is some information about studying and coffee’s caffeine power to consider:

If you are looking for the best study tools out there, you should read our article on the best study tools to enhance your studying at the link below:

The Ultimate Study Tools You Must Use to Succeed!

How Much Coffee Should I Drink?

As a coffee lover myself, I know it can be hard not to chug a Trenta cold brew from Starbucks before a long night of studying. It is important to be aware of how your body tolerates caffeine because each of our bodies reacts differently to it.

Coffee actually does have benefits for your memory even though most people use it for alertness. It also apparently repairs DNA strands which sounds super complicated if you ask me.

For some, the caffeine coffee contains does give them energy and helps them focus on the task at hand. For others, it makes them jittery and leads to a big energy crash soon thereafter.

Knowing if caffeine helps or hinders your focus is key. Just because it works for someone else does not mean it will work for you.

You also need to know how much coffee is too much coffee. Experts claim that 3-4 cups of coffee a day is healthy. If you are consuming more than this, you risk being too jittery to focus while studying or too awake to sleep when the time comes.

Just because you need to focus on studying for a long period of time does not mean you need to order a large drink. It is more beneficial to consume caffeine in small doses over a longer period of time. This way your energy keeps up with your studying.

What are the Health Benefits of Coffee?

Coffee has many health benefits in addition to caffeine.

Coffee can cut muscle pain almost in half, increases your fiber intake, protects your liver, lowers your risk of diabetes, lowers risk of Alzheimer’s, reduces depression, protects against Parkinson’s, lowers risk of heart disease, and helps you to be less grumpy in the morning.

The great thing about coffee compared to say, soda, is that it does contain essential nutrients that your body craves (B2, B5, potassium, B3). For some people, their cup of joe simply makes them happier, which we all need nowadays.

What is a Good Coffee Drinking Strategy for a Study Day?

If possible, drink coffee early in the morning and get a little studying in then. After your morning classes, have some green tea in the afternoon for not only its caffeine but its health benefits as well. Try not to drink any coffee past 3 pm to avoid a crash or lack of sleep later in the evening.

Speaking of studying, if you are looking for some tips to improve your study routine, check out our article covering our 25 favorite study tips at the link below:

25 Awesome Study Tips to Improve Academic Performance

What are the Best Coffee Drinks to Consume When Studying?

Starbucks is the most widespread coffeehouse in America, so I will use them as a reference.

Starbucks Coffee ItemAmount of Caffeine
Caramel Macchiato75mg – 150mg of caffeine
Flat White130mg – 195mg of caffeine
Americano75mg – 300mg of caffeine
Black Coffee130mg – 475mg of caffeine
Caffè Misto130mg – 475mg of caffeine
Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
(for festive studying)
145 mg- 315 mg of caffeine
Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew145mg-320mg of caffeine
Espresso Shots75mg-300mg of caffeine

Avoid sugary mochas, lattes, and Frappuccinos that are likely to give you a sugar high and then a big sugar crash. Focus on ordering coffee like cold brew that is known for a larger caffeine content but won’t make you feel jittery in turn.

What If I Don’t Like/Want Coffee?

Not a coffee drinker? You can still get some caffeine in you for studying without drinking a Red Bull or a sugary soda.

I remember when I started college, as another student was showing us around campus, he gave us a study tip: “Always drink tea before studying, never coffee.”

Tea has so many benefits for your health. It hydrates you, reduces your chance of getting certain cancers, it’s good for your teeth and bones, it can reduce stress, and help strengthen your immune system. (Those last two can be super helpful when you have a big upcoming test).

Also, tea has the exact same amount of caffeine as coffee. So, don’t think you have to drink coffee to focus, because tea is also a stimulant. With coffee, you will also crash faster than with tea, because coffee has a bigger depressing effect. So, if you need to work and focus for a long period of time, tea may be the better option.

What are the Best Teas to Consume When Studying?

Going to use Starbucks again as a reference. Most other coffee shop’s teas will have very similar caffeine content. The biggest key to this is to get these teas unsweetened with no sweetener or sugar to once again avoid an unnecessary sugar crash. You can get these iced or hot.

Type of TeaCaffeine Level
Green20-50mg
White15-40mg
Black20-50mg

Now it may seem like these don’t have a lot of caffeine but remember that tea is not a depressant like coffee, so this amount of caffeine will keep you going longer than you would think.

Don’t Forget About Water!

Hydration is super important when it comes to studying. Even if you are drinking coffee or tea, keep drinking water as well.

According to studies, drinking water helps to improve brain function due to the fact that dehydration literally shrinks the brain. Drinking cold water will help you to stay awake because of its temperature. Plus having to get up to use the bathroom every 10 minutes will keep you up too.

Drinking water has also been proven to improve your memory. The “fogginess” of your brain may be linked to being dehydrated. Improve your cognitive state by drinking more water.

Caffeine is a Drug

90% of Americans consume caffeine every day, mostly from coffee. More than half of the U.S. population drinks over three cups of coffee per day. In this day in age, we are very reliant on the coffee industry. There is a reason so many of us drink a cup to kick off our morning.

With pressure to do well in school and work a 9-5 job, we need all the energy we can get. Coffee is proven to give you an energy boost in moderation, so it is understandable that most of us drink it day in and day out. The problem is that many of us are drinking too much and becoming reliant on it.

Caffeine is a drug and, while it can be easy to forget this, it can be detrimental if overused. When you truly realize this, you will begin to understand why you need to limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine can be helpful if you use it wisely.

Besides Caffeine, What Else Can I Do to Ensure a Successful Study Session?

If you want to stay away from caffeinated drinks altogether, but still need to stay alert while studying, you should make sure to eat a healthy diet, exercise, get at least 8 full hours of sleep, and try to reduce your stress levels.

What worked for me in college was never ever procrastinating. It was instilled in me from a young age to get your work done, then have fun. As soon as you get back home or to your dorm, get to studying. Don’t pull up Netflix and watch an episode of The Office you’ve seen a thousand times first.

Make a plan of when you are going to study, with who, and how long. Knowing this will also help you focus and keep your mind from wandering. Planning your schedule or creating a to-do list can be very productive. Also, don’t be afraid to take breaks. Many drink coffee to help avoid them, but they are super important for your brain function.

Why Is Coffee a Better Choice than Energy Drinks, Soda, or Caffeine Pills?

Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, Monster, and Rockstar are a few examples of popular energy drink products in the United States.

Energy drinks can cause heart problems. More than 20,000 trips to the ER are associated with energy drink use every year in the U.S. Consuming energy drinks can lead to high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and bad blood vessel function. They also become even riskier when mixed with alcohol.

They also increase your risk for diabetes because of the amount of sugar they contain. Your blood sugar is going to suffer when you chug a Red Bull. If you are going to drink an energy drink, make sure it is sugar-free.

31% of children aged 12–17 are estimated to regularly consume energy drinks. This can be detrimental to their growth and wellbeing. It can deter their brain and heart development and can lead to addiction to large amounts of caffeine.

It is generally recommended that adults consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day. According to ‘Healthline’, “Energy drink manufacturers are not required to include this in the caffeine content listed on the product label, which means the total caffeine content of many beverages can be drastically underestimated.” (source)

You can drink an energy drink every once in a while, but it is important to not make it a daily habit. Sure, they can give you some quick alertness, but the health risks far outweigh those few minutes of energy.

Sugary drinks consumed in excess are the worst for your health. In comes soda.

Soda contains a ton of fructose, which does not lower the hunger hormone and helps you feel full like water for example. This is why soda is linked to weight gain. Large amounts of sugar can turn into belly fat or fat in your liver. It can also increase heart disease risks.

Too much soda can also cause diabetes. Sugary soda can contain insulin resistance which is an absolute recipe for disaster. Sweetened beverages are the No. 1 leading cause of Type 2 Diabetes in America.

Sugary soda, unlike tea and coffee, has literally no health benefits… just sugar. No vitamins, no minerals, just a ton of sugar. A can of soda is a can of sugar and empty calories. It can also become addictive over time.

Soda drinkers are known to have a higher risk of contracting cancer because soda is linked to diabetes and heart disease. The risk of gout and dementia also increases significantly. Soda is obviously known to lead to dental nightmares as well.

Tooth-decaying soda should be avoided at all costs. Weight gain, sugar levels, and empty calories are just a few of the many reasons why they are a horrible choice to drink for caffeine while studying. Drink coffee or tea instead.

Caffeine can generally be okay for you to take as long as you don’t take too high of a dose. Caffeine pills average between 100 and 200 milligrams of caffeine per serving. This is the same as an average cup of brewed coffee. Some are time-release, some release all at once.

If used incorrectly, it is very possible to overdose on caffeine pills. It can be easier to overdo with caffeine pills than it is to drink several cups of coffee. This may lead more easily to a caffeine overdose.

Some risks of caffeine pills can be a headache, acid reflux, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, and jitters among others.

If you need caffeine fast, then caffeine pills may be the way to go, but is incredibly important that you are vigilant and do not overdose.

To Sum it All Up:

In the end, the biggest takeaway from this is to understand your body and how it works. If you know caffeine makes you jittery, then limit yourself. No need to down 5 cups of coffee if it is going to have an adverse effect on what you need to study.

Don’t chug sodas and energy drinks every day while you’re studying for exams. Those empty calories and all that sugar will come back to haunt you. Go for a healthier option, like tea that will quench your thirst, give you a caffeine boost, and also improve your health.

So many college students think that getting a quad-shot Trenta Starbucks drink will give them the power to better learn. Try to take it slow and spread out your caffeine intake and be sure to take little steps, like breaks, to help as well.

Remember that when drinking coffee or tea, it’s all about what kind of coffee/tea you’re drinking. A cold brew is going to be a lot more beneficial for a studier rather than a Venti Ooey Gooey Caramel Frappuccino with a ton of whip cream and syrup. More empty calories and more sugar mean the bigger the crash later.

An iced green tea (with no sugar!) is going to be a lot more beneficial than a sweetened London Fog Tea Latte.

You may be pressed for time when getting off to your study session, but it can be very beneficial to check the nutrition facts on what you’re about to choose to drink. It will honestly save you time in the long run if you find out your drink is mostly sugar.

Be sure to plan ahead for your study sessions. Being prepared and knowing exactly what you are going to do with your time is a huge key to getting things done. If it takes making a to-do list and checking things off as you go, then do that. If it takes getting 5-minute cell phone breaks to check social media every hour, then do that.

We as Americans drink coffee in excess for a reason. We are stressed, we are overwhelmed, we are a tired society. College students are huge coffee drinkers for obvious reasons. Finals, midterms, projects, and quizzes consume your entire life. If something as simple as coffee makes these things even slightly easier for you to handle, then drink a cup. The key to all of this is to not overdo it.

Drink some coffee, drink some tea, have a soda or energy drink every once in a blue moon.

While taking care of your homework, it is important to remember to also take care of yourself. In the end, you are all you have. So, take care of yourself and drink up. Happy Studying!

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