Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Everything about Caffeine

I drink a lot of coffee. I met my husband when we worked for a small Honolulu coffee company and have been drinking the stuff daily in the 20 plus years since. Working nights, coffee is essential to my ability to continue to do to math in my head while people holler at me well past midnight.

I know some of the kids in Anna's class start out each day drinking a cup of coffee with Mom. But last year's fifth grade field trip surprised me. The kids all had pocket money and bag lunches. I expected them to spend the pocket money on cheap trinkets and postcards, but the conspicuous spending was all on caffeine in the form of energy drinks at upwards of three dollars a pop. Most of the cans said "not recommended for children" but the snack stand guy didn't care. The kids claimed that they drank that stuff all the time, but it was clear that Amp and Rockstar and Monster possessed the lure of the forbidden.

The kids told me that they did better in school when the used caffeine. They knew how much they needed to "get a buzz". I thought that was strange, and I ended up talking to my bike riding companion about alcohol, and how binge drinking in teens impairs brain development. I didn't know much about caffeine, so I just listened, except to point out that if they spent their money on energy drinks at the beginning of the trip, they would be broke for the hour of shopping at the end of the field trip.

At Developing Intelligence, a blog written by a graduate student in cognitive Neuroscience at CU Boulder, I found today's entry to be a user's guide for caffeine. It doesn't answer my questions about kids and caffeine, I will be using the information there to modify the way I drink coffee for maximum effect.

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