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Exam season can be tough. Adrenaline alone can push some students through a tightly-scheduled exam week, but if you've got exams, papers, and portfolios spread out over a longer period, you're bound to burn out halfway through and lose focus. This is where caffeine saves the day — an energy booster and focus enhancer, caffeine can make you feel like you actually slept 8 hours the night before the test, and can carry you through those lecture notes when your focus starts to slip. Caffeine consumption in students increases significantly during exam season every semester, but many students don't use it effectively. As a result, it's pretty common to hear horror stories about late-night jitters, mid-exam bathroom breaks, and persistent late-afternoon headaches.
We've been through exam season and we want to help. Drowning yourself in extra-large coffee refills the day before an exam only to be up all night with the jitters is not the way to success, but with strategic planning and implementation, caffeine really can be your best friend. Here are some practical tips for how to use caffeine to make your exam season survivable and stress-free.
Caffeine works on the body by preventing drowsiness, which in turn creates a feeling of increased alertness. When taken to the extreme, this can turn into anxiety, but caffeine-induced anxiety only occurs if you suddenly and sharply increase your caffeine intake. This is why knowing your caffeine intake is crucial to ensuring you enjoy all of its benefits and none of its drawbacks. The actual levels of caffeine in caffeinated beverages and energy drinks can vary substantially, making it hard to monitor consumption, and even harder when you want to adjust your dosage to tackle a big test. Energy drinks are also high in sugar, which can elevate anxiety levels when paired with caffeine and result in the dreaded sugar crash. However, with BLOCKHEAD Energy Gum, you know you'll be getting exactly 50 mg of caffeine, zero sugar, and zero calories with each piece. This way, you can plan out your caffeine consumption to the milligram so you know you'll never get the jitters or have to face a sugar crash.
Caffeine can increase focus, but it isn't a replacement for sleep or nutrition. If you drink a large coffee on an empty stomach, your body will absorb the caffeine too fast and you'll feel some anxiety or shakes that you wouldn't otherwise feel if you were well-fed. Similarly, if you're under-rested and try to use caffeine to replace a full night's sleep, you're likely to experience some jitters. In this case, a more moderate caffeine dosage to bring you closer to normal levels of alertness is likely to be more effective than sharply increasing your dosage to try to make up for a lack of sleep.
Drinking a cup of coffee before a 20-minute nap increases alertness far more than only doing one or the other, because caffeine from beverages takes 20 minutes or longer to be absorbed by the body. However, a 10 minute nap is actually much more effective at increasing alertness. With BLOCKHEAD Energy Gum, caffeine is absorbed into the body through the mouth, not the digestive tract, so you start feeling the effects of caffeine in as little as 5 minutes. So when you are plowing through pages of lecture notes and need an energy boost, instead of chugging a coffee and taking a 20 minute nap, try a 10 minute nap followed by some BLOCKHEAD Energy Gum when you wake up. It'll kick in right away and you'll be able to get back to studying faster than if you'd downed a coffee.
This might seem obvious, but since most students get their caffeine fix from beverages, caffeine consumption is usually accompanied by increased bathroom breaks. So don't chug a 500ml energy drink before your 3-hour exam, because you'll be running to the bathroom within the first hour. Using BLOCKHEAD Energy Gum for your caffeine needs means you can focus on the exam material instead of when you'll be able to get up to use the bathroom.
Caffeine is like anything else you consume: when taken in moderation with knowledge of how it works, it can be hugely beneficial. When you're on a tight schedule and have to sacrifice basic needs like sleep and nutrition for study time, caffeine can be a lifesaver, but only if you use it wisely. Our goal at BLOCKHEAD is to get you to be the best version of yourself you can be. BLOCKHEAD Energy Gum can help you get there in ways that conventional caffeinated beverages can't. We're putting the power in your hands — it's up to you to use it well and soar.
Keenan Guillas holds a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from the University of Alberta and is no stranger to the pressures of exam season. With years of experience both in biology and as a barista, he's spent his fair share of time drinking coffee while cramming and is well-versed in the benefits of using caffeine as a study tool.
Keenan G is a freelance writer who writes about health. Medium ➡︎