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What Singaporean youth think about their dependency on coffee

Consuming a large amount of caffeine every day may not bring about positive effects in the long run.

Sitoh Shanice

Dances in her free time and can also lick her elbow.


Published: 31 August 2021, 10:11 AM

It is not uncommon to see people drinking coffee daily in Singapore. In fact, we consumed six million kilograms worth of coffee in 2020.

Being a central nervous system stimulant, caffeine keeps people from feeling sleepy. As a result, many working adults and even students rely on it to be more focused and feel more energetic for upcoming tasks.

However, depending on the amount of coffee one drinks, there could also be some unhealthy effects.

We spoke to some youths to find out how they felt about their coffee drinking habits.

Growing dependent on coffee

For most youths we spoke to, getting into the habit of drinking coffee started out during their time in school.

Nur Syafiqah, a 24-year-old preschool teacher, started drinking coffee during her school days in polytechnic. She would usually drink one to two cups a week to stay awake in school, and this has increased to three to four cups since entering the workforce.

She said: “Just preparing an activity for my students will result in me sleeping late. When I wake up in the morning sometimes it’s hard to stay energetic to engage the kids so I have to drink coffee.”

Similarly, 14-year-old student Ashley Lim drinks coffee to stay awake during her examination period as she stays up late to study. She often goes to cafes with friends to study and would order a cup of coffee to keep herself awake.

 

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Syafiqah feels that she is definitely dependent on coffee as it has become part of her lifestyle. PHOTO CREDIT: KIMIYA OVEISI VIA UNSPLASH

 

However, starting to drink coffee at such a young age could have some negative effects, such as developing a dependency or addiction to the beverage

Chloe Ho, a 20-year-old intern, used to drink about six to nine cups of coffee a day when she was in school. This is far above the recommended limit of four to five cups for adults and one cup for adolescents.

Now working from home, she has found her attempt to reduce her daily coffee intake to one or two cups challenging.

“Without coffee, I do feel like I’m a little more on edge. I get irritated easily and I’m not able to focus on a task properly either,” said Chloe, who shared that she would not be able to survive a week without coffee.

 

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Caffeine can cause interference with sleep at night and lead to feeling sleepy in the daytime. It then results in intaking more coffee and having a repeated cycle. PHOTO CREDIT: MEGAN TE BOEKHORST VIA UNSPLASH

 

In the long run, the over-reliance on caffeine can lead to negative effects like worsening anxiety and insomnia, high blood pressure and more.

Actively cutting back on coffee

All the youth we spoke to agreed that too much caffeine is unhealthy.

And while it does help them keep awake, youths like Syafiqah regret not cutting back on coffee earlier, before she became reliant on it.

She is now taking steps to curb her addiction by exercising regularly, taking a morning stroll or doing a workout whenever she has the chance. This way, she gets her mind working and does not have to drink coffee in the morning to kick start her day.

Syafiqah said: “It may be hard to do at first if you are really dependent on it for your day to go by, but I think if you really try and make small changes in your lifestyle then it will benefit you in the long term.”

 

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Apart from exercising, some other ways to cut back on coffee include substituting it for non-caffeinated drinks or using decaffeinated coffee to satisfy coffee cravings. PHOTO CREDIT: ŞULE MAKAROĞLU VIA UNSPLASH

 

As banishing coffee completely seems too big of a change for most, youths like Ashley think the key is to drink it in moderation, limiting consumption to when you really need it or when you want to treat yourself.

You hear many stories about how drinking too much coffee is bad for you, but just like anything in life, using the same thing multiple times or even abusing it will lead to harmful effects,” she said.


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