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How Big A Problem Are Energy Drinks, Really?

Richard C. Senelick, M.D.   |   August 19, 2011    8:39 AM ET

"Red Bull and vodka is terrible for you. It's popular, however, because it makes you drunker, faster. While I don't enjoy that particular deadly cocktail, I like many college students, survive on energy drinks during finals, Sugar free Red Bull being my poison of choice. After two weeks of drinking one cup of coffee and two Red bulls a day (that's coffee around 9 a.m., first Red Bull around 3 p.m., second Red Bull around 10 p.m.), I often go through withdrawals at the beginning of my Christmas and summer breaks -- stomach aches, nausea, headaches -- and of course low energy. I know it's incredibly unhealthy for me. But for me, like many other college students with a demanding schedule, there is no way to get all of your assignments done without sleep deprivation even if you start them ahead of time and cut out all extra activities. Energy drinks improve your mood and the quality of your work." -- A College Senior

You might think these are the words of a marginal student trying to just keep up. However, I asked a high achieving college senior at a top tier school to give me some insight into the use of energy drinks at her University. My interest in energy drinks arose from the recent report of a seizure in a 15-year-old boy who drank two 5-hour Energy shots in rapid succession. Are energy drinks the new coffee? Do they have excessive health risks and do they need to be regulated, or is the problem limited to their excessive use in our youth?

Energy, Danger or Both?

Sports and energy drinks are an enormous business with projected sales in 2011 of more than 9 billion dollars. One half of these sales will be to adolescents and young adults under the age of 25 -- people like our college student who, with her Red Bull in hand, excels at all levels. A survey of 496 college students found that 51 percent consumed energy drinks on a regular basis and 54 percent of those students combined the drink with alcohol. Energy drinks contain caffeine, taurine, guarana, vitamins and herbal supplements. Currently, however, the FDA does not regulate them, because energy drinks are categorized as dietary supplements.

An energy drink may start with less caffeine than a cup of regular coffee, but guarana and other substances contain additional caffeine and can increase the amount of caffeine the drinker receives. The dose of caffeine increases as we graduate to 16 ounce cans (160 mg), Max Strength shots, Super Strengths -- and since many energy drinks have names like Monster, Rock-On, Rock Stars and Killer Buzz, their marketing is clearly focusing on a younger, risk-taking generation. Wired X505 contains 500mg of caffeine with a tag line of, "Get Wired-Stay Wired." This dose of caffeine presents a danger to the young and those who do not ingest large quantities of caffeine on a regular basis.

The major problem is in the ingestion of excessive amounts of caffeine and the ability of young people to gain access to large quantities of caffeine. Coffee has to be brewed, you may need to find a coffee shop and it is difficult to drink large quantities quickly. On the other hand, energy drinks are convenient, come in multi- packs and some, like 5-Hour Energy, come in small bottles as "shots," with websites prominently displaying banners that exhort you to "Take it in Seconds," and "Feel it in Minutes." The amount of caffeine is not listed on the 5-Hour Energy or Extra Strength 5-hour Energy Max, but is estimated to be twice that of a regular energy drink.

How Much is Too Much?

Energy drinks are promoted to increase energy and stamina, promote weight loss, improve concentration and enhance athletic performance. Since they are categorized as dietary supplements there are no regulations that require the manufacturers to prove their claims of efficacy or safety. Caffeine, the main ingredient of these drinks is the only psychoactive drug available over the counter and available to both children and adolescents. Unlike energy drinks, substances like NoDoz list a minimum age of 12 years and also list the adverse effects of caffeine.

Healthy adults can safely consume fewer than 400mg per day of caffeine, or approximately 2-4 cups of regular coffee. Like all drugs, weight matters, so what is acceptable in an adult may be toxic and deleterious to a child or adolescent. Adolescents and children should not consume more than 100 mg/day of caffeine. Remember, one 8-ounce can of Red Bull contains 77mg of caffeine and 5-hour Energy shots have two to four times as much. While an adult may notice improved exercise endurance, better cognition, increased reaction time and improved mood, the same dose of caffeine in children and adolescents may cause anxiety, jitteriness, high blood pressure, seizures and behavioral problems. Much more serious problems have been reported with higher concentrations and abuse. Energy drinks have many other ingredients -- herbs, vitamins, supplements -- but studies of these substances are inconclusive and the claims of improved mental alertness concentration and performance should be taken with a dose of skepticism.

The Problem

It would be easy say, "What's the big deal?" We don't try to regulate coffee or who can drink it, but energy drinks are different for a number of reasons. Their marketing strategy is youth oriented with a prominent presence at sporting and athletic events. There are even posters on the walls of college dining halls with slogans like, "Nobody wishes they'd slept more in college." While the FDA limits the amount of caffeine in soda, there is no such limitation on energy drinks. They are packaged in such a way that it easy for someone to have instant access to large amounts of caffeine. This creates an environment that potentially promotes abuse and dependence, with withdrawal headaches and fatigue leading to increased use and dependence.

There are strong proponents for regulation, particularly when it comes to sales in children. On the other hand, energy drinks can be purchased by college students as part of their food plans and supporters of energy drinks will point to the lack of regulation of other forms of caffeine. In some ways it is not unlike the ability to sell and promote "healthy" supplements without solid scientific data. In this case, I think the main issue is the use and abuse of energy drinks by children and adolescents.

What does it all mean?

• Energy drinks have known and unknown pharmacologic effects that may put some children at risk for serious adverse effects.

• Caffeine in low to moderate doses does improve mood, attention, concentration and energy levels in healthy people.

• Energy drinks contain high levels of taurine and guarana along with other ingredients whose effects have not been scientifically studied.

• The marketing is inappropriately aimed at youth and risks taking individuals which increases the risk of overdose and abuse.

• Safe levels of many of these substances have not been established for children

Common sense would seem to tell us that we should have some regulations to protect children and adolescents. Likewise, it would make sense to force manufacturers to list the exact dose of the ingredients and known adverse effects. To be fair to all involved, it might not be a bad idea to raise the bar for scientific proof of efficacy and safety for not only energy drinks but also herbs and supplements. Tell us what you think.

  |   June 3, 2011    7:47 AM ET

PHOENIX -- Did you get a complete and restful night's sleep last night? If not, and if right now you're reading this article rather than focusing on work, your time might be better spent on a short nap to boost your focus and productivity.

Freshman 8 Sleep Contest: Who Should Win A Trip To New York? (WATCH)

Leah Finnegan   |   October 4, 2010   10:44 AM ET

September was sleep month on HuffPost College -- instead of warning new students about gaining the Freshman 15, we encouraged them to get the Freshman 8 instead. Adequate sleep, according to many experts, can lead to higher grades, heightened performance and better health.

But it's not always as easy as lying your head on a pillow and drifting off. Dorms are rife with distractions, students' bloodstreams are stoked with caffeine. So we challenged students to see if they could do the seemingly impossible -- get 8 hours of sleep every day for one month.

We tracked their progress on our Facebook page and, by September's end, we emerged with six well-rested finalists, all in the running to win a trip to New York City for the Huffington Post's Game Changers event on Oct. 28.

Which do you think learned the most from sleep month? Watch their testimonials below and VOTE for your favorite.

Voting will conclude Oct. 11.
Full rules here.

Sleep Month Is Over, But The Freshman 8 Is Not

Leah Finnegan   |   September 24, 2010    7:28 AM ET

YAWN. Good morning! It's 7:30 a.m., and I feel so alive! You see, just a short month ago, I would have awoken bleary-eyed and confused after an unsatisfying five hours of sleep. Throughout the day I would have had multiple caffeinated beverages to keep my brain intact. All day I would think about sleeping, only to stumble home at 8 p.m. and find myself wide awake, neurons somehow pulsing on the dregs of coffee in my veins. Sleep would come six sad hours later. And then the whole thing would begin again.

It's really no way to live, and it's a cycle that started for me in college, when varied wake-up times, free-flowing legal stimulants and midday naps were new and interesting (and plausible). This month, we HuffPost College set out to to break those habits both for us and you with a series we dubbed the Freshman 8.

Here is a rundown of some of the things we've learned:

-Light is the enemy.

-All-nighters -- not worth it.

-Good sleep habits should start early.

-Your dorm room setup can change the way you sleep.

-Less sleep = increased chance of mental illness.

-More sleep = increased chance of higher GPA.

Read the full Freshman 8 archives here. We hope you've enjoyed sleep month as much as our psyches have. And remember, today is the LAST day to qualify for our Freshman 8 Sleep Contest to win a trip to New York! Enter here.

How did sleep month go for you? Did you gain your Freshman 8? Let us know below!

Dr. Ronald Kotler Sep 22nd 2010 11:12AM   |   September 23, 2010   10:39 AM ET

George was filled with delight when he arrived at the beautiful suburban college campus. While he was happy to be independent, he was completely overjoyed at the prospect of starting classes as late as noon.

Since George was a high school freshman, he had experienced problems falling asleep before 3:00 a.m. He routinely looked forward to weekends, when he could sleep until noon. Getting up for school at 7:00 a.m. was a major challenge. He was chronically sleepy and often looked for an opportunity to snooze -- even in class. His parents, while supportive, were not pleased when his teachers reported his naps.

An Open Letter to Our Elected Officials: How Do You Sleep At Night? Lunesta?

Ross Luippold   |   September 22, 2010   10:19 AM ET

Dear Government Leaders:

I am so very, very angry with you. You have betrayed the implicit trust that the American people have placed in your leadership, and with a callousness and flippancy that make me believe that in the moral compartment where most house their conscience, you have a cavernous black hole of rotten, stinking greed. How can you possibly sleep without being haunted by the undeniable betrayal you have committed upon millions?

I'm serious, what's your secret? Ambien? Therapy? Indian food right before bed? Because I've tried everything and just can't get a decent night's sleep.

How about this: I'll tone down my indignation if you tell me who your guy is, and give me his number. Are you using Dr. Kutner? I've heard good things. I know that you must be seeing someone good, because the never-ending blow to our national identity that you commit with every nay vote can't come from someone taking cat naps between meetings with corporate lobbyists. I see a certain stamina in you that is unmistakably the mark of someone who takes sleep habits seriously.

You clearly have no decency, but if you do have a fail-safe way to secure eight hours of sleep, I'll be happy to listen. By the way, I'd kill to have your skin and metabolism. They tipped me off to your impressive sleep habits. After the initial realization that it must be at the expense of any self-awareness of your role in our country's destruction, I became obsessed with your health secrets. You vile scum, etc.

My sleep lately has been much like your respect for America: nonexistent. I know I'm not alone. And yet I see you on TV, spouting your usual lies, and I think to myself, "How do these guys sleep at night? How are they not kept awake by the silent screams of the children who will have to pay for their greed? Do they have one of those white noise machines? Do those actually work? I hear they actually lull you into semi-hypnosis. That's pretty cool. I bet they drown out the children pretty well, too. Or maybe after a while the screams of the children become a kind of white noise. I bet that's it."

As a qualification: If your methods involve some use of the supernatural, I'm not interested. No, thank you! Come to think of it, though, you must employ some sort of voodoo curse in order to lull yourself to sleep, right? Assuming, as I do, that Lucifier purchased your soul wholesale in your younger days, it can't have been too much of a stretch to start performing a shamanistic ritual each night to secure sleep. I'm not necessarily saying that it's unconstitutional for you to keep your spells a secret, but it wouldn't hurt to leak them.

I hope that when you lie down tonight, you toss and turn, unable to ignore the pangs of guilt over the recklessness with which you lead. It's appalling and disgusting. It's irresponsible. And I vow that I shall not rest, I shall not sleep until I see some real, fundamental change in this great nation of ours.

Or until you just email me your sleep secrets. Whichever comes first.


Ross Luippold

  |   September 21, 2010    8:30 AM ET

Eminent U.S. sleep specialist Dr Matthew Edlund now suggests that if you can't sleep, or simply don't have time to get forty winks, a rest can be just as beneficial for your health.

Work a Little, Play a Little, Sleep a Lot

Danielle Wiener-Bronner   |   September 20, 2010    8:49 AM ET

Many colleges will tell you that their students work hard and play hard, but I am not a work-hard play-hard kind of gal. I'm more of a work a lot, play a little person, or play a lot and work a little -- everything in moderation -- so I rarely pushed myself to the brink during my four years in school.

The one all-nighter I pulled during my college career was a disaster. It was mercilessly sandwiched between two all-dayers, and it was the type that makes you feel like you've been hit on the side of the head with a bag of sand and then been instructed to carry it on your back for a few hours.

What happened was this. I'd grossly (grossly!) misjudged the amount of time it would take me to put together a PowerPoint presentation for my thesis, mostly (well, entirely) because I had assumed that some figures I'd slapped together a few days before were correct when they were most definitely not. So rather than take a few hours to spruce up a more or less finished slideshow as I had intended, I faced the Sisyphean task of figuring out where my data had gone awry, fixing it, redoing the corresponding charts and then sprucing up the PowerPoint. Which was terrifying, not only because I didn't think I'd have time to do all that, but because the shoddy data might throw the entire validity of my thesis. The possibility of sleep disintegrated as I considered the gruesome hours ahead.

To backtrack. One of the reasons that I don't usually pull all-nighters is because I am an irrational tired person. When I don't sleep I don't think very well, and I don't think very quickly. Which is why in the midst of this thesis disaster, I decided that it was imperative that I go to my half-day unpaid internship the following morning. They could have done without me, but tired logic was having none of it, so I decided that, no matter what, I would make it to my internship, and on time. It was about midnight, and the plan was this. I'd work until I could reasonably take a nap, do that, go to work, come back, fix up my slides, present and go to sleep. Naturally, the time at which I could reasonably take a nap was nonexistent, so I replaced nap with shower and tried to cover up the woeful bags under my eyes before heading to work.

My slides were as done as they were going to be. I wasn't late to my internship, and I had so much coffee coursing through my veins that my hands were unpleasantly shaky, but I was awake. All things considered, things were OK. I started to think that maybe I could work hard and play hard, never sleep, do my work, go out, have my cake and eat it too. Until I realized that I wasn't following the plot of the website I was reading, and then I realized that websites don't have plots. But it took a long while for me to remember that, and even then only after I'd shaken myself awake from an involuntary and upright bathroom nap.

Needless to say, the presentation did not go well. It did not go horribly, either, but it could have been significantly better, and that's never a good feeling. That night it took me some time to fall asleep, over tired and over-caffeinated as I was, but when I did I slept for 14hours. And it was glorious.

So from now on, I'm sticking to my guns -- work a little, play a little, sleep a lot.

The Life Of A College Student Is Pretty Awesome, Report Reveals (INFOGRAPHIC)

Leah Finnegan   |   September 17, 2010    1:36 PM ET

College students may complain about lack of sleep, excessive workloads and stress, but in general, life as a co-ed is pretty good.

A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics details how an average college student spends his or her day. According to the report, titled "Back to College" (PDF), the biggest chunk of a student's day is spent in bed sleeping (no word on whether lecture-sleeping, library-sleeping or lawn-sleeping was factored into this number). And surprise, surprise: the least amount of time is spent grooming.

Check out the below graphic for the full lowdown on a student's day. Does this measure up to a typical 24 hours in your life? Let us know in the comments section.

Who Needs Sleep? One Professor 'Fesses Up

Lee Skallerup Bessette   |   September 17, 2010    7:56 AM ET

For some of you, this is the first month of school. You're full of enthusiasm and energy, ready to take on the world. For me, we've been back at school for almost three weeks. Standing in front of my once bright-eyed, now baggy-eyed students, I am reminded how important sleep is for young undergraduates. It may only be week three, but I am already getting a number of emails from students who are missing class because of sickness, handing in work that was obviously done under less-than-ideal conditions and falling asleep right in front of me.

I think there is more than a little karmic payback going on; as an undergraduate, I was an admittedly terrible student. My grades were fine, but my classroom behavior was less than respectful. If I even managed to show up. All this because I barely slept. Eight hours? Try four or five hours, if I was lucky, starting at three or four in the morning. I was living the undergraduate dream: no parents, no curfew and an endless supply of willing partners-in-crime. When I was having trouble showing up on time for an afternoon class starting at one, I knew I was in trouble.

My entire first semester, I was fighting a nagging cold that never seemed to go away. It might have stopped me or slowed me down one night every few weeks, but I pushed myself forward, soldiering on through midnight hockey games and subsequent late-night eating binges. I also missed a lot of classes and the classes where I did show up, I was nursing as large a coffee as I could find. Sometimes two. I paid the price.

When I went home for Christmas, I was sick the entire time. And not just a little sick. I was in bed, completely miserable for my whole trip home. My mom took good care of me and sent me back to school with a massive amount of over-the-counter medicines, immune system boosters and vitamins. But she couldn't make me sleep. As soon as I got back to campus, my body retreated into the pattern I had trained it follow. Even if I wanted to, I could never fall asleep before three or four in the morning.

I would lie in bed, my mind racing; I could never calm down. The blackout curtains in our residence rooms didn't help because it meant that my body couldn't correct itself naturally with sunlight. I was starting to be able to sleep in, but the later I slept in, the later I would stay awake at night. The problem became especially brutal when I was working nine-to-five at a regular job during the summers: a zombie all day at work, yet still unable to fall asleep at night.

My educational experience was poorer as a result. In graduate school, books, stories and information that I knew I had read as an undergraduate were completely absent from my memory. Going back over the essays I had written, I wondered how I had even made it through my degree at all, let alone gotten accepted into grad school. I actually emailed some of my professors to apologize for my behavior and shoddy work. At one point as an undergraduate, when I received an A on a paper I had written in a sleep-deprived haze, I emailed one of my professors in shock, asking him if he had read the same paper I had written. He said that although it was extremely sloppy, it had a lot of good ideas and insights. He told me I had a lot of potential. I was just too sleep-deprived to see it fully realized at the time.

I am the teacher now, and a mom. I see my students in the same state as I was in while in their exact position. I want to tell them to calm down and take care of themselves: sleep, eat well, and de-stress in healthy ways, rather than "blowing off steam" the way undergrads typically do. Find ways to calm your body and your mind so you don't just do well in school, but actually learn something in the process. The purpose of the university is to acquire knowledge, something that is almost impossible to do when your brain is running on energy drinks and little else. It took me until grad school to realize all that I had missed out on because I never got my poor sleep habits under control. I know most of my students probably won't get the chance until much later to see the lost opportunity while they thought it was better to sleep when they were dead.

Your Freshman 8 Dorm Room Makeover

Dr. Michael J. Breus   |   September 16, 2010    8:19 AM ET

Trying to get your Freshman 8 is never easy in college living quarters. Why? Lots of reasons:

  • You now have a new roomie
  • You have a boatload of new electronics
  • You now live with a few hundred of your new best friends who likely have a different bedtime
  • You mostly likely have an irregular eating schedule
  • And of course you have a brand new twin extra long bed, which is probably only six inches thick

So what is a college student to do? A dorm room makeover, of course!

Sleep is a sensory experience, and an in-depth consideration of the five senses is a great way to evaluate your bedroom and create the ideal sleep environment. The senses have a hierarchy based on their effect on your ability to get a great night's sleep. They are as follows, from the sense with the greatest impact to the sense with the least:

1. Sight (light)

What we see significantly affects how our other senses process information and respond. Sight directly affects the circadian pacemaker, which tells you what time to sleep and what time to wake.

Quick Tip: Proper placement of your bed should take the windows and any streaming light from natural (i.e., the sun and moon) to unnatural sources (lamps and street lights) into consideration. You'll also want to limit the total wattage of light you have in your bedroom at night. During the evening hours try to have no more than a total of 300 watts of light on, and while you're trying to wind down for sleep be sure no one source of light emits more than 65 watts. Use a book light for studying or reading in bed right before going to sleep. But REMEMBER -- candles and sleep are a definite NO-NO. And you're probably not supposed to have them in the dorm anyway, right?

2. Sound
Sound rings in as the second most important variable to creating a good sleep environment. Your brain can still process information while sleeping and your hearing actually becomes more accurate since your eyes are no longer providing stimuli for your brain to process.

Quick Tips: Consider music -- nature and ocean sounds can help with relaxation and sleep. Consider white noise machines. Some companies specialize in "sound conditioners" that drown out noise. Consider ear plugs. Check your alarm clocks: If you and your roommate wake up at different times, consider a vibrating alarm clock that fits in your pillowcase so it doesn't disturb your roommate. Or attach pillow speakers to the alarm clock for your ears only.

3. Touch
How you feel physically while in the comforts (hopefully) of your dorm room has a major influence on your ability to sleep well.

Quick Tip: Bring your pillow from home. But make sure it is the right pillow for proper head and neck support. Also consider a mattress topper to help customize your new sleep surface. I like the ones that are zoned for better support. The mattress on your dorm bed is not likely to provide the best support or comfort without some help.

4. Smell
Your olfactory system is one of the most influential sensory parts of the body. It's also one of the oldest and most vital components of the brain; scents stimulate your command center for emotion, motivation, and memory.

Quick Tip: Be careful not to over-odorize your bedroom, but if smell is a problem consider aromatherapy. Recent studies have offered evidence that aromatherapy can not only lift your spirits, but possibly reduce anxiety, agitation and even pain -- all good effects for inducing sleep. Specifically, consider relaxing smells such as lavender, rose and chamomile. For safety reasons, never light aroma candles (remember, candles and sleep = not a good combo). Use sprays, powders or even fresh flowers (if no one is allergic).

5. Taste

Eating too close to bedtime can be a major cause of insomnia and troubled sleep. If your digestive tract is trying to process food while you're attempting to settle into a long and cozy slumber, your body might find it difficult to conduct these two competing tasks.

Quick Tip: Experiment with the timing of your meals and snacks before bedtime to see what works best. Avoid large meals within three hours of bedtime. A good small snack just before bed is a complex carbohydrate with a little protein plus calcium, such as a piece of whole wheat toast with a thin slice of low-fat cheese on top. The lactose intolerant can choose peanut butter as a topping, so long as they stay within 200 calories for the entire snack. And be careful about any caffeinated foods and beverages close to bedtime.

Any finally, a few quick ideas for sleeping in cramped quarters:

  • Position your bed in way that signifies it is part of its own entity or room. Consider the use of a room divider or screen.
  • Decorate the area around the bed differently than the rest of the room. It should visually stand out. Use cool, calming colors and textures (blues, greens and purples).
  • Splurge on good bedding materials that are comfortable for you.
  • Install low-wattage lights anywhere near the bed or add dimmers to all the switches, and again set the mood for sleep 2-3 hours before you retire.
  • Position your entertainment, television and/or computer area so it's not directly aligned with your line of vision when you're in bed. Consider the use of covers for the monitor and turning off the CPU itself.
  • Face the bed to the west if possible so that you don't get direct sunlight in the morning.

Sleep enough, win a trip to New York! Enter HuffPost College's Freshman 8 sleep contest today!

Take the Freshman 8 pledge, and participate on Facebook!

  |   September 15, 2010    8:47 AM ET

Young adults getting fewer than eight hours of sleep per night are at greater risk of experiencing high levels of anxious and depressive symptoms, according to a study of almost 21,000 Australians between 17 and 24 years old. If people whose biggest concerns include surfing and Kylie Minogue are suffering from any form of anxiety, then we really need to take a look at how our sleep patterns might be affecting us. We kid, we kid...

Shedding Light on the Freshman 8

Dr. Michael J. Breus   |   September 14, 2010   10:12 AM ET

By now I hope I have proven to you how important the Freshman 8 can really be. We know more sleep will help your GPA, memory and performance. But getting that precious eight hours can be a bit of a challenge in a dorm room. I believe that sleep is a sensory experience and that if all five senses are satisfied, then sleep is but a few winks away.

Here is a quick tip about one of the most influential senses: light. Light is the signal to your brain to stop producing melatonin, that hormone that helps regulate your body clock, and can start the process of sleep. If you need to study before bed, I suggest using a book light. This way the light is focused, you should not strain your eyes and you are not sending a signal to your brain it is morning, but rather that it is almost time for bed. Look for my next blog to go over all five senses, and how you can have a dorm room makeover for your Freshman 8.

And don't worry, your R.A. will not mind a bit!

An Open Letter To My Twin Bed

Saba Hamedy   |   September 13, 2010    7:06 AM ET

Dear generic twin bed in my college dorm room,

I decorated you with a beautiful bedspread and colorful pillows in hopes that I could lie down and rest.

But even after all that, I still can't sleep. I've tried many different methods to trick my mind into dozing off. I've counted sheep, but the age-old trick I was once told would help me only seems to make matters worse. I've read my assigned readings for my philosophy class. But, alas, not even Descartes can bore me to bed. I've even tried some "how to sleep" tips, courtesy of the Google search engine., for example, suggests 52 tips -- some I've tried, some I know for a fact won't work:

1. "Soundproof your room" -- Sadly, in college, soundproofing my room is not an option, as I can normally hear both my suitemates and floormates 24/7.

10. "Use aromatherapy and scent solutions" --Scents just make me sneeze.

And my personal favorite:

34. "Limit Daytime Naps" -This suggestion is actually impossible. I am at the newspaper office from about 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Naps are the only reason I function.

In fact, my whole schedule is reversed -- 4 a.m. feels more like 4 p.m., class at noon requires caffeine to get me energized and cereal = dinner.

In addition to my four classes, I am an editor at my college paper -- which is fun but definitely time consuming. On average, I sleep about four hours a night, which isn't too bad.

I think I feel worse when I sleep five hours because it's not long enough to make you feel rested and it's not short enough to be a nap. Then again, maybe that's my twisted logic.

My dad made me look up Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN primetime special "Sleep" from 2006 because apparently Dr.Gupta also has sleep issues.

In his article "To sleep, perchance to live," Dr.Gupta said scientists say being chronically sleep deprived can raise your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Thanks, scientists. Now I'm sleep deprived and stressed.

So in the end, maybe I'm an insomniac or maybe I just drink too much coffee. All I know is that after one year of college, I've already turned into a night owl.

My only comfort is knowing that I make up the 11 percent of American college students that don't sleep well.

It's time to kill time by playing Robot Unicorn Attack or Bejeweled Blitz.

The night is forever young for the insomniacs like me.

Thanks a lot, twin bed.


Sleepless Saba