Five creative alternatives to coffee for the sleep-deprived college student

Photo courtesy of A Girl With Tea, Flickr

Photo courtesy of A Girl With Tea, Flickr

I hate you, but I’m absolutely in love with you. Why are you one of the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning? Did I ever say that you could get inside my head and sweep my off my feet? You make my body feel so alive! Unfortunately though, I think we need to break up.

Nope, not talking about bae. It’s coffee.

After 18 years of living in a coffee-free world, I got addicted the start of my sophomore year. It might have had a little to do with being in college and the fact that you do a million things and get absolutely no sleep. I found myself constantly sleep deprived, only catching up on rare weekends when I was free or on break at home. Now, at the ripe age of 20, with the maturity of a junior, I feel like I know how to live my life (lol).

After far too many mornings of waking up and craving this brownish blackish beauty, I am slowly starting to cut ties.

Don’t get me wrong — coffee has a number of positive health benefits. It can wake your body up, keep you focused, aid in digestive health and give you loads of antioxidants. In my opinion, it’s also pretty tasty. But while these things are true, it’s also an extremely addictive stimulant that can cause negative health outcomes down the road. The caffeine in coffee can have several negative effects. According to Mayo Clinic, it triggers a host of problems, from insomnia and nervousness to stomach issues and rapid heartbeat. Not to mention, it dehydrates you like crazy.

There are many alternatives that can suffice and provide us with more health benefits as well as the much-needed boost of caffeine when we really need it.

  1. Black Tea. This natural alternative is a great pick-me-up. The most caffeinated of all of the teas, just an eight-ounce cup of black tea contains between 20 and 100 milligrams of caffeine, according to Livestrong. The longer a bag is steeped in water and the larger it is, the greater the caffeine content, so you can have control of how much caffeine you are consuming.
  2. Green Tea. Another great energy booster is also in the tea variety. Green tea has 20 to 45 mg of caffeine, which is less than a cup of coffee, but because it is low in acidity it makes it easier on the stomach than coffee. Drinking green tea or its relative, matcha, also doesn’t come along with the jitters and crashes that one may experience when drinking coffee. It’s also packed with catechins, powerful antioxidants and potent disease fighters, according to an 2003 article from Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
  1. Yerba Mate Tea. This South American drink has been used for years to boost energy levels in a healthy and minimally addictive way. A cup of yerba mate tea provides more value than many manufactured energy drinks. Additionally, a large number of consumers trying to kick the coffee habit have found yerba mate to be a healthful, yet still stimulating, alternative to their cup of joe, according to the official Yerba Mate website.
  2. A wheatgrass shot. Some hate the taste, but I think it has a nice effect. According to Huffington Post, an all natural shot of wheatgrass in the morning, which packs a powerful punch of nutrients, including vitamins A, C and E, iron, magnesium and chlorophyll, can give you lasting energy throughout your day.
  3. Apples. Though an apple doesn’t have the stimulation that coffee does because it doesn’t contain caffeine, it actually does fuel your body with more energy while helping to stabilize blood sugar at the same time. According to Livestrong, an apple keeps you going because it contains calories and carbohydrates, as well as a healthy dose vitamins and minerals. Also, the physical act of biting into an apple actually does wake you up.

When it really comes down to it, you don’t always need a food or beverage to give you that burst of energy. Try doing 20 jumping jacks right when you get out of bed, hop in a cold shower and turn up your tunes high. Drink a huge bottle of refreshing water. There are so many ways to get that natural energy boost that will get you through the morning and off to a great day.