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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


You can sleep when you’re dead

It’s the most common fairy tale told in the academic community. Our brave protagonist, perhaps a film major trying to score a “”real subject”” minor through organic chemistry mastery, is faced with defeating a daunting course load. The test, an evil specter, looms overhead. Our stoic hero cannot sustain lucid wakefulness on his own.

Luckily, modern science advances in exciting and slightly disturbing ways, presenting a myriad of toxic beverages that allow us to fight the REM sleep cycle. Since consuming all of them would probably kill you in an impressive, spastic explosion, a choice needs to be made. With the help of one of these (I can’t say which, as I would hate to present a bias before the jump), we shall explore the wide, scary and hyper world of sleep-defying beverages.

Let us begin with coffee. Perhaps the most basic of the choices, and yet most culturally varied, coffee has been a favorite vampire set drink since the 15th century. Hipster monks in Arabia were thought to harness the power of the drink and talk about new religious chant albums coming out soon, and their religious fervor for the drink soon spread to the rest of the world. This head start and its energetic benefits soon made it a hit with the secular population, which is why it has such a rich cultural stigma attached to it today. Different cultures enjoy it different ways — Italians love their coffee quick and concise, so it’s essentially shots of the wake-up juice, since Italians are always on the move (that Vespa isn’t going to swerve itself through traffic). Americans, being the ignorant plagiarizers that they are, decided to use Italian words in most of their mainstream coffee shops, despite selling a completely different caffeine experience. The most embarrassing example is of course the trenta, an abysmally large Starbucks drink built around the super-size mentality. It’s a pathetic option that would make most Italians exclaim “”Basta cosi!”” and spew their half-mouthful of espresso over the counter.

Coffee potency varies. I personally shake like a malfunctioning massage chair after any coffee from a hip cafe, and overstimulation usually detracts from the productivity boon I am trying to receive. For those with the power to harness the coffee though, it’s a great choice, although expensive and harder to find late at night.

What is not hard to find in any self-respecting gas station, but no less expensive, is the energy drink. These devices of the new world have emerged in rampant popularity in front of our very eyes. What started as a tentative fad is now a full-fledged epidemic of glucose, caffeine and taurine. Coffee may have the edge on cultural and social gathering appeals, but we are probably only a decade away from Red Bull bars, where we can have it directly injecting into our cerebral cortex before work. They have become the face of our generation, bottled speed for help in both work and play. For the most part, they taste like the captured essence of melted Jolly Ranchers, and the positive aspects of that analogy decrease rapidly in direct correlation with the generic nature of the brand. Red Bull is a reliable standard, Rockstar is not far behind and Full Throttle tastes like a bag of Twizzlers left to die in the sun. In terms of omnipresence, the energy drinks are key, which is why they are probably the best option on the list.

Four Loko (Pre-2011): OK, I can see where you’re coming from. These drinks certainly packed a hyperactive dynamic when they had caffeine present. I’m not really sure how this would help for homework, though, since they also entertain an absurd amount of alcohol.

Four Loko (2011): Oh. You just want to get drunk. Homework accomplished like a true Wildcat student.

No matter how you slice it, humans have managed to harness the power of nature to create us into a race of amped up zombies, impervious to our bodies’ cries for sleep and rest. In an increasingly multitasking and A-type system for productivity, these devices will just grow in notoriety (Trenta), until we finally use MacBook batteries to sustain our all-night needs. Until then, reach for one of the above drinks, and stick it to that pesky Circadian rhythm.

— Johnny McKay is the multimedia editor of the Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at


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