Commentaries
7:00 am
Tue February 4, 2014

A World Powered by Caffeine

Fresh Voices-On-Air commentator Torrance Yang shares some insight on the drug that runs the world. 

Torrance Yang is a junior at Hoggard High School where he participates in the Math, Science Olympiad and Quiz Bowl clubs.  He’s also on the Hoggard Swim Team and he’s an Eagle Scout.  

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                                                                              As I sit here thinking about what kind of paper I want to write, I have managed to yawn about twenty-three times, rub my eyes twice, and stare off into space for over ten minutes. The worst part is it is only 7:30 in the morning and this really got me thinking. Here I am, at one of the most important stages of my life in which sleep and rest are crucial to my mental development, yet I am seemingly coerced by society, school, and my own volition to ignore my bodily demands for them. It is undeniable that sleep is an integral part of the human process, so why do we choose to get so little of it?According to several medical advice websites, someone at my age should get around 8-9 1/2 hours of sleep, but on my best days, I go to sleep at 11 o’clock at night, and wake up at 6 in the morning. This, in turn, totals to around 7 hours of sleep maximum on weekdays. At this point, I became intrigued about the topic of sleep. I asked a few of my fellow students, and I also questioned several adults about their sleep habits and found out that none of my peers reached anywhere close to the recommended hours, and that the adults were also close to not getting enough sleep. Despite this small sample size, I thought to myself, “What is getting people through the day?” The answer that I found was: coffee.Although coffee is not the only caffeine stimulate out there, it is certainly the most popular. According to statisticbrain.com, the total percentage of Americans over the age of 18 that drink coffee every day is 54%. This number does not include people, like me, who are underYang 218 and have to drink coffee daily to function, and it also does not include the number of peoplewho drink coffee irregularly. They may drink coffee every other day or when they feel that theyneed a boost. According to census.gov, there are around 313,914,040 people in this country, and76.5% of those people are over the age of 18. This brings the number of adult daily coffeedrinkers to approximately 120 million people. Of this number, 60% claim that they cannot startthe day without coffee, 54% say coffee makes them feel like themselves, and 68% have a cup ofcoffee within the first hour that they wake up. But why are these numbers significant to me?These numbers show me how fragile the waking world is. If 120 million people drink coffeeevery day for energy, and more than half of those people claim that they do not function properlywithout it, then do you feel safe on the roads? How do you feel about the doctors that take careof your health, or about the people that control your finances? One accident caused by sleepdeprivation is just waiting around the corner.Thankfully, these things don’t happen that often. However, it can’t be denied thatAmericans are getting too little sleep and the negative effects that come with it can only becontrolled by caffeine, which is usually in the form of coffee. My solution is to start promotingthe power of sleep to the next generation so that our dependency on coffee and our attitudesabout rest are changed for the better.

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