Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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The science behind coffee shops and studying


Something that every student is familiar with when it comes to finals week is caffeine; more specifically in the form of coffee.

The week leading up to finals is often made up of busy days of attending classes and long nights of filling your mind with information for exams. Those long nights can leave students feeling exhausted.

Where do you go when you’re feeling exhausted? A coffee shop.


Coffee and teas that are high in caffeine help to increase activity in a person’s brain and nervous system. These beverages prevent students from feeling tired because the caffeine in them blocks adenosine, a natural substance in the body, from triggering fatigue. The caffeine also interacts with dopamine to improve cognitive function.

Not only does the caffeine in coffee prevent drowsiness; it also can help to improve short-term memory. Caffeine has been shown to improve the brain’s ability to process information due to the increase it causes in resting brain entropy.

While coffee shops are a go-to place for caffeine, they are also a place many students take to for studying.

Many people wonder why they get their best work done in coffee shops. Could it be the high-paced environment, the calming music or possibly the ambiance or aesthetic of the shop itself?

A study done at the University of Illinois looked at the effects of noise on creative thinking. The study found that the level of ambient noise in the average coffee shop is around 70 decibels, this level of noise enhanced the creative performance of participants compared to a lower decibel range.

The study was led by Dr. Ravi Mahta, an assistant professor of business administration at U of I. Mahta said being in an environment that is extremely quiet can prevent you from thinking abstractly; complete silence sharpens your focus too much.

Mahta’s study showed that moderate noise levels can give students just the right amount of distraction to where they are able to think “outside of the box.”


The whir of a milk steamer, the light roar of the blender and the quiet voices of the baristas helping other customers can be a big help to students when preparing for a week full of exams.

Along with the level of distraction that coffee shops supply for students when studying, they also provide a change of environment.

A person’s surroundings play a large role in the effectiveness of their study session and the information they retain. Classic advice says that studying in the exact same place each day can help you learn better, but recent studies say otherwise.

Studying in the same area or room each day can become stressful or uncomfortable. A change of scenery can be a refresh for your brain and help prevent burnout. Studies have shown that studying the same material in different locations can increase a person’s ability to retain information.

Carbondale offers a wide variety of coffee shops for students to study at.

The SIU Student Center’s Starbucks has cozy seating inside the shop as well as high top tables along the outside of the shop. Another on-campus coffee shop is Delyte’s in Morris Library; while the shop may be small, it offers multiple booths that can fit anywhere from one to six people for solo or group study sessions.

Off-campus studying is a great way to switch up the scenery. A standalone Starbucks location is located off of East Main Street and offers tables and booths, as well as a study room for groups to be secluded from other guests.

Common Grounds Coffee House is located off of East Grand Avenue. With a wide variety of caffeinated drink choices, the coffee house has table seating for small group studying, as well lounge chairs and individual seating for a more isolated study area.

Lastly is Blend Tea and Crepe Lounge. As the name implies, the shop has a cozy lounge environment good for studying or taking a mid-study break. Not only do they offer indoor and outdoor seating, they also have a variety of options when it comes to teas and sweet or savory crepes to offer students a little caffeine and food to fuel their studying.

Switch up your environment by studying at a coffee shop for this semester’s final exams. Sit down with a cup of Joe and see the change studying in a coffee shop can make.

While coffee can be good for studying, it is important to remember that there is such a thing as too much caffeine. An excess amount of caffeine can cause side effects such as tension headaches, feeling lightheaded, nervousness, dehydration and insomnia.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends 400 milligrams or less of caffeine per day; this is equal to around five cups of coffee.

Reporter Joei Younker can be reached at [email protected]


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