No sleep tonight
BY KATHY LALUK
You've just started school, but mid-terms will be here before you know it. Freshmen, prepare to feel stress like never before. Here's a guide to the perfect cram session, from locations to brain food to caffeine options.
Location, location, location
There are dozens of fantastic coffeehouses located throughout Rochester; many of them have comfy chairs, ample caffeine and snacking options, and frequently offer free wireless internet. For a complete listing, check out the Coffeehouses section in the Student Directory located in the back of this publication.
Don't have time to trek off-campus? Most campuses have cafés and food courts for all your late-night needs. UR boasts an on-campus Starbucks (WilsonCommons) and Pura Vida (Goergen Hall). RIT and MCC have their own version of downtown coffeehouse Java's: Java Wally's (Wallace Library, RIT) and JavaCity (Damon City Campus, MCC). SUNY Brockport offers three on-campus cafés -- Aerie's (Drake Memorial Library), Hartwell's (HartwellBuilding), and Jitterbug's (Seymour College Union) -- as does Nazareth, with Sorelle (GolisanoAcademicCenter), Roost (Shults), and Colie's Café (George Hall).
If you're not into the coffeehouse scene, but still need a place to study, try a library. It may sound lame, but libraries are a great place to hit the books (and are usually much quieter than the dorms). Most schools have adopted late hours to help accommodate students' studying habits.
Even though UR's Robbins/Koller-Collins Library is only open weekdays (Monday-Thursday until 9 p.m., Friday until 5 p.m.), the Gleason Library is open 24/7 (with a few holiday exceptions). RIT's Wallace Library is open until 3 a.m. during the week, and until midnight on weekends; it even has an "after hours room" that stays open 24/7 (except weekends). Check your school's library website for more specific hours.
Whether you're into the latest über-caffeinated energy drink or you just love your coffee, caffeine gives us that quick jolt of energy we need to get through a cram session. But caffeine is still technically a drug -- a legal and socially acceptable one, but a drug nonetheless. So make sure you know what you're putting into your body before you're set to study all night. According to the Nemorous Foundation, anywhere from 300 to 400 mgs of caffeine a day is considered a healthy amount for young adults.
A good ol' cuppa coffee will get you about 13 mgs/oz, on average. But be careful: due to variations in blend and brewing techniques, it can be tricky to measure caffeine intake accurately. Coffee's healthier counterpart, tea, has some caffeine, but the amount depends on what type you're drinking. Brewed breakfast tea and iced tea will give you 2-3 mgs/oz, while others, like white tea or green tea, will give you 3-4 mgs/oz.
With vending machines all over campuses, it's no wonder many students reach for a can of pop (or what non-Rochesterians might call "soda") to help keep their focus late at night. Jolt Cola takes top marks for caffeine in this category -- more than 9 mgs/oz -- but Coke or Pepsi still hold their own with around 4-5 mgs/oz.
It all seems to be about extremes these days, from the sports we play to the fuel we put in our bodies. According to recent studies, a third of 12- to 24-year-olds regularly down energy drinks. But just how much caffeine bang are you getting for your buck? A one-ounce can of Ammo, which contains 171 mgs/oz of caffeine, is all you need to straighten your spine and keep yourself awake for hours. The makers recommend you mix this energy drink with water to dilute the caffeine, but it's technically safe to down the whole thing in one gulp.
From the makers of Mountain Dew comes Amp, an overly sweet energy drink that packs a punch of about 9 mgs/oz. Monster, which tastes sort of like liquefied Pixie Stix, may sound scary, but it's relatively tame -- with only 10 mgs/oz, it's barely more potent than a cup of regular coffee.
Though it may "give you wings" to get you through your late-night cram session, Red Bull is actually not as powerful as you might think. The popular drink contains less than 10 mgs/oz of caffeine. Meanwhile, Starbucks' Doubleshot, packaged in a trendy slim can, packs a comparative punch. With about 20 mgs/oz, it'll definitely get you wired.
Make sure you know what you're drinking -- with all those tasty super-caffeinated drinks out there, it's easy to get carried away and cause serious health problems, such as heart arrhythmia and increased strain on the respiratory system.
What most students don't believe -- or don't want to believe -- is that water is actually one of the best ways to keep yourself going during a homework marathon. The body is more than two-thirds water, and it needs to be replenished frequently, especially if you're going to be pulling an all-nighter. If plain tap or bottled water just doesn't do it for you, try flavored water. The sugar will give you an extra kick, but you'll stay hydrated and awake without any of the drawbacks of caffeine. Or if you really need a boost, try a bottle of Water Joe, caffeine-enhanced water with about 3.5 mgs/oz.
Let's get snackin'!
What's a can of pop or cup of coffee without a bite to eat? Late-night food options are becoming more readily available to college students, but what you're eating can affect how you study.
Even though you endured years of your parents' nagging to eat your fruits and vegetables, try apple slices and peanut butter for a healthy, yet satisfying, late-night option. It might not sound as tempting as junk food, but it's actually better to keep you going because of the protein and natural sugar. Most dining halls let you carry out fruit, so if it looks like it's going to be a late night, grab an apple or two. You can also try pairing your fruits and veggies with some low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese for a late-night pick-me-up.
Sure, that chocolate bar from the vending machine might not be as healthy as fruits or veggies, but if you need to reward yourself for your hard work, it isn't a bad alterative -- as long as it's only occasionally. The natural caffeine will even give you a little boost.
While a late-night pizza order or greasy burger run sounds tempting in the midst of a study break, do your best to resist. Fatty foods may be immediately satisfying, but they take longer to digest, causing you to feel sluggish -- that's the last thing you want when you're trying to plow your way through a paper at 2 a.m.
Though it may be healthier than reaching for a sugar-filled energy drink or soda, milk contains animal protein, which can make you sleepy late at night. Anything with animal protein, like milk, ice cream, and meat, contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which increases the body's production of serotonin, causing you to feel drowsy. And that's the last thing you need while scouring your calculus text in the wee hours of the morning.