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How to get through college without caffeine? - November 7th 2016, 02:35 PM

Why would I want to get through college without caffeine? Caffeine causes me health problems. I have a digestive problem, so I am sensitive to caffeine, particularly if the caffeine is in something acidic (so caffeine pills are better for me than coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc). Caffeine causes me physical pain, but as a result of physical health problems, I am always fatigued and lack the energy to get through college as a normal person would, and the average college student consumes large amounts of caffeine on a regular basis. How can I have any chance of keeping up without it? I do try to limit caffeine on a daily basis because I hate coffee and energy drinks anyway, but when major exams come up, I see no other way. Diet and exercise and all the usual advice doesn't help, and I often don't have energy to exercise more than the required walking around campus of several miles per day. The doctors can't do anything about fatigue; they've tried. It's less bad but still bad. Just a symptom of my illness but college does not go well with it.

Any ideas for how to get through college without caffeine?

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Re: How to get through college without caffeine? - November 7th 2016, 02:56 PM

I went through college/university (depends on where you live) without caffeine and undiagnosed narcolepsy so I know the feeling. Honestly, a strict bedtime routine is one of the best things you can do. If naps help, try to make some time for short ones when you need to be awake. It's possible you may have to take longer than the average person to finish. Consider lowering the number of classes you take at once. You can also probably talk to your teachers/professors and let them know you have a medical condition that makes you tired. You can also look into whether your school has a student disability office you could register with, it's possible you could get accommodations on deadlines and absences/lateness.

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Re: How to get through college without caffeine? - November 7th 2016, 07:18 PM

Does your school have any accessible learning services? They might be good people to consult if you have diagnosed / known medical problems that are affecting your school. They can help you to adapt your learning and studying style to your healthy conditions and make sure you're still successful. Where I live, there was also a law / legislation/ rule where I could take less than full time course loads (eg. 3-4 courses instead of 5) and still be considered full time, this way I wouldn't suffer financially because of my disability (because if cutting off some funding meant I had to work more to make up the difference, then that would mean I was basically wasting my time by not taking a full course load if I'd justjapce to replace it with more job hours) and this is also something accessible learning could also handle for you. I hope that that helps.

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Re: How to get through college without caffeine? - November 7th 2016, 08:35 PM

As far as I know, there's no law here about staying full time with reduced courses. I also can't financially afford to take less classes per semester. I am already registered with disability services but the accommodations for assignment extensions are only applicable for when I have a full blown flare up or something of the sort, not a day to day basis. It's a pain to work with DS and my doctor so it's not easy to just change it to a day to day basis.

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Re: How to get through college without caffeine? - November 10th 2016, 07:24 AM

I recently stopped caffeine. I had a bad bout of anxiety a while back so stopped caffeine and now I cant have any of it without getting super anxious. So now the only time I drink caffeine is when I also am drinking alcohol.

It is a bit harder - but it isnt as hard as I thought. You just have to take 100 percent advantage of the times where you feel you are focused- so when you feel like that - go do homework. I am sometimes fatigued--not because I have a problem but because I am not a morning person whatsoever and my schedule demands I wake up in the morning- so I end up having little sleep. Sometimes though, I feel like I am stimulated enough -almost like a cup of coffee- and feel like I can do homework. You just gotta take advantage of those times you feel up to it- and don't let them go to waste.

You don't actually need caffeine- your body will learn to do without.

It may also help to adjust the dose of caffeine. Sometimes, I take a smaller dose of it than I used to - maybe the equivalent of a cup of green tea rather than coffee- and then maybe again later if I feel up to it.

If you are constantly fatigued- it may actually help to ask for a low dose of an ADHD stimulant medication. Of course don't request it by name- but just ask "do you think adding a stimulant medication would help?"-and leave it at that. It is unlikely to work with most doctors since it would off label (provided your problem doesn't rise to the level of narcolepsy) and they are considered "controlled"/regulated medications, but it is worth a shot. These meds are stimulants that are stronger than caffeine and may not produce the same negative effects. But you would have to have a very understanding doctor who is not 100 percent "by the book" for this to work.

I agree with what others are saying about disability accommodations. The ADA guarantees "reasonable accommodations" for those with disabilities- provided they can do the same level of work. Allowing students to take reduced credit hours without being financially considered a part time student is almost always considered a reasonable accommodation where it would be beneficial for issues related to a person's medical condition or disability. This would include people with fatigue issues, people with executive function (planning and regulating time) problems , etc. So that is worth a shot- but you would need an official diagnosis and assessment to back it up- not just a doctor's unofficial diagnosis. You would need paperwork showing an assessment with a formalized diagnosis.
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Re: How to get through college without caffeine? - November 11th 2016, 03:57 PM

Have you tried decaf coffee? Maybe have a friend/family fill up your coffee one day (randomly) with decaf (so that you don't know when they do it). Then the placebo affect will take over, and you'll just be drinking decaf. Otherwise, you just need to get adequate sleep (8+ hours), and make sure to take frequent breaks (studies say 52 minutes studying, 17 minutes breaking).

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Re: How to get through college without caffeine? - November 14th 2016, 05:30 AM

I have chronic fatigue so I get the super-frustration about it. It's ridiculous that of all of modern medicine's great achievements it still has absolutely no answer for fatigue. We can control pain, we have tons of drugs with sedating effects, but nothing to help with being fatigued.

I was really fortunate to have a friendly study buddy who helped keep me on track, he made sure I got up at a reasonable time and got enough stuff done before giving up for the night etc. Left to my own devices I would probably never get out of bed.

I would give decaf a try. I found it somewhat helpful. Not the caffeine, but the coffee-ish taste and the feeling of drinking some warm beverage, would help at least get me into the focusing mood.

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Re: How to get through college without caffeine? - November 18th 2016, 03:07 PM

Budget your time carefully. Make sure you're not overspending time doing other activities instead of school and work.
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Re: How to get through college without caffeine? - November 19th 2016, 09:33 AM

Here's my two cents. Try to stay on top of your work. Chances are you will get some time before an assignment is due to stay on top. Thats the biggest thing.
Next, while going out and having fun is important, going out all the time and stuff isn't the best idea. Decide on like maybe once a week or whatever works for you. Takes a little bit of discipline, especially if your friends go out loads, but I think it will be worth it.
Next, try non caffeine alternatives. A cold shower jolts me to my senses in the morning, so try that. This website offers some idea.
Lastly, have you told your uni about your health problems? They often have provisions for this, such as extensions etc. Take a look
Hope this helps

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