September 29th is National Coffee Day! I'm actually NOT a coffee drinker myself, but I know many of you out there are...especially you paranormal investigators and ghost hunters! Often we have to put in a full day's work at a traditional job, take care of family and home...and THEN spend all night on high alert at a potentially haunted location. Coffee is an excellent source of caffeine, a stimulant that wards off drowsiness and makes you feel more alert. Being more alert is definitely useful during a paranormal investigation, but too much caffeine can be a very, very bad thing.
A 2011 study conducted by researchers at Australia's La Trobe University actually found evidence that too much caffeine can cause auditory hallucinations. In other words, the same stuff that makes you feel alert and awake can also cause you to hear things that aren't really there. Obviously, hearing things during a paranormal investigation that aren't really there isn't exactly conducive to a successful, scientific-based endeavor.
But just how much caffeine does one have to consume to start hearing things? Well, that amount is slightly different for everyone, but the study notes that even five cups a day led to a significant increase in the test subject having the auditory hallucinations. I don't know about you, but I've definitely seen people consume that much and more. When you factor in energy drinks and highly caffeinated sodas as well, its pretty easy for one person to reach that threshold.
However, one doesn't have to completely give up on coffee on other caffeinated drinks before or during an investigation. Like with many other things, moderation is key. Too much caffeine, in addition to potentially causing auditory hallucinations, can also cause one to feel jittery, anxious, have a racing heart beat, and since its a diuretic, cause one to have to use the restroom often (and any investigator knows that clean, working restrooms aren't always readily available during a ghost hunt!).
Just know your own body and what it can and cannot handle. If you regularly consume large amounts of caffeine, you can probably handle it better than someone who normally would have a small caffeine intake, but downs shot after shot of energy drink right before heading out into the field. Also, instead of relying solely on caffeine, try a few different approaches to maximize alertness and ward off sleepiness. If you know an investigation is coming up, try to get sufficient rest beforehand. Take snack breaks featuring healthy choices of proteins and carbs. Stay hydrated. And, most importantly, know when to say no. If you don't feel alert or in top shape, it may be time to head on home.