Sleepiness is a common problem for many people, and the struggle to stay alert all day can feel impossible. However, there are some things you should never do to stay awake, because they can actually be quite dangerous to your health. Sometimes, it's better to just deal with your fatigue for a little longer, or give in to a few minutes of shut eye.
Feeling the need for a stimulant is something of a chronic problem for millions of adults. In fact, over one-third of American adults regularly do not get enough sleep each night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And because running on empty all day is a sucky feeling, it's no wonder so many people look to quick-fix stimulants for help.
In general, there's nothing at all wrong with the occasional jolt of caffeine to keep you going. But just about anything can be harmful when used in excess, and this goes for energizing substances as well. Knowing how much caffeine is really recommended for the average adult, as well as what other stimulants are easy to overdo, can help keep you safe and healthy. And for more long-term results, check out these steps to get a good night's sleep. Hopefully, your extreme fatigue is only a short-term problem.
1. Overload On Coffee Drinks
I will never shame a fellow coffee addict for getting a second (or third) espresso shot after a rough night. Sometimes it's necessary. But when it comes to coffee, espressos, and lattes, turns out you can have too much of a good thing.
In general, about 400 miligrams of caffeine per day is safe for most healthy adults, according to the Mayo Clinic. That works out to about four cups of coffee. Drinking more than this amount can result in migraines, rapid heartbeat, and general restlessness, as further noted in the Mayo Clinic. Also, using lots of coffee to combat a bad night's sleep can cause you to stay up at night again, leading to a vicious cycle of sleeplessness.
2. Take Loads Of Caffeine Pills
Widely available in pharmacies everywhere, caffeine pills are marketed as a convenient way to stay awake for people who don't like drinking coffee. As long as you take the recommended dose, these pills can be a safe way to get the temporary buzz you're seeking. However, it is easier to overdose on caffeine pills than coffee, tea, or soda, as noted in Healthline. In 2007, a 19-year-old died after consuming about 30 caffeine pills, according to Digital Journal. If the estimates are correct, he ingested about 2.5 grams of caffeine, which is several times over the recommended daily 400 milligram limit, as noted in Caffeine Informer. Like any other drug, caffeine can be abused.
3. Chug Endless Energy Drinks
Hey, the late-night energy drink is a rite of passage for worried students and party-goers everywhere. Like every other stimulant, though, these things can be abused. In addition to the caffeine, energy drinks often contain sugars and the ingredient guaranine, as noted in Time.
"In reality, when a drink is said to contain caffeine plus guarana, it contains caffeine plus more caffeine,” said the authors of a 2013 Pediatrics in Review study of energy drinks. With the confusing labels, consumers could ingest too much caffeine without even realizing it. That's why energy drinks are best enjoyed in moderation.
4. Take Someone Else's Adderall
Taking your own medication according to the prescription is one thing — "borrowing" your friends' meds is another question entirely.
First, there is the potential for a negative reaction with your own system. "I think it’s a dangerous thing; you never know how someone’s biochemistry is going to react with a substance," said Holly Anderson, a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist at Cornerstone Family, in The Collegian. It may have bad interactions with other medications the person is taking as well.
Plus, there is definitely the potential for addiction issues with Adderall. Sure, it can help you stay awake and improve focus, but Adderall is also an addictive stimulant, as noted by the American Addiction Centers, so by opening up the gates to this specific drug, you are making yourself vulnerable to longterm dependence issues.
It's really no surprise that so many people seek shortcut energy bursts throughout the day. However, it's important to keep yourself in check and to speak out if you see someone close to you possibly abusing specific products or substances to maintain alertness throughout the day. If you suspect that you or someone you know is struggling with any type of substance abuse, you can call the national Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357), anytime.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.