Pill Claims to Increase Morning Alertness

By Timothy Jue

(U-WIRE) DAVIS, Calif. – Skip that morning cup of coffee to get
you perky for your 8 a.m. class. Makers of a new dietary supplement
promise that a new pill taken before bedtime can help people wake
up feeling energized with the jittery effects of caffeine without
taking a sip of java.

“This is a great way to add in the extra time that everyone
needs each day – by waking up earlier each morning,” proclaimed
Cathy Beggan, creator of the pill Wake Up On Time, in a written
statement. “My product helps you to effortlessly wake right up in
the morning feeling alert, happy and ready for anything your
demanding schedule throws at you.”

The Wake Up On Time pills are available for sale online for
$29.95 a bottle. Buyers receive a total of 30 pills, each
containing B vitamins, amino acids, Siberian ginseng and Guarana
seed extract – a time-released caffeine component that gives the
consumer a boost of energy hours after taking the pill, makers

“I’d be interested to see if it works, so long as it isn’t
deadly or anything,” said Philip Riley, a University of
California-Davis sophomore. “But it seems like a bad idea in the
long run, because it might screw you up.”

Riley said he averages six to eight hours of sleep daily, but on
some days last-minute studying and polishing term papers can turn a
good night’s rest into a brief nap.

“I would be willing to try the pill,” he said.

With sleep as a perennial problem for many college students,
supplements such as Wake Up On Time may become increasingly
appealing to fatigued individuals seeking a quick energy recharge,
according to some researchers. A National College Health Assessment
survey administered to UC Davis students found that difficulty with
sleep was the third most common item to negatively impact academic

“That could be getting an incomplete grade, having to drop a
course or getting a lower grade in class or on an exam,” said
Michelle Johnston, health promotions supervisor at the UC Davis
Cowell Student Health Center.

Johnston said students’ sleep patterns are a primary concern for
her staff at the health center, and noted that an influx of energy
drinks and pills is complementing more traditional forms of
stimulants such as coffee, soda and sweets.

“There’s always a market out there leading people to believe
that they’re going to get a quick fix or giving people an edge over
others,” she said. “I think the people making the products are
taking advantage of that.”

A high demand for the products in Davis exemplifies the
energy-supplement industry’s firm grasp on the area’s exhausted
college students and middle-aged consumers.

“They’re definitely our best sellers,” said Ryan Beeman, a sales
associate at Davis’ GNC franchise on Cowell Boulevard. “I would say
it’s probably 50 percent college kids that come in and get the
energy pills, and then there are a lot of people in their 30s, 40s
and 50s.”

Many customers who purchase the pills take them to assuage
fatigue, but also use them to lose extra pounds and build muscle
mass, Beeman said.

UC Davis Director of Sports Nutrition Elizabeth A. Applegate, a
renowned expert in the field and team nutritionist for the Oakland
Raiders, said dietary supplements such as Wake Up On Time – which
claim to enhance energy levels through a pill – should be taken at
a person’s own risk.

“The company can state what they want on the label; they don’t
have to prove what it does,” Applegate said. “The Food and Drug
Administration does not require them to uphold their claims because
dietary supplements are under different labeling regulations.”

A lack of clinical trials to evaluate Wake Up On Time raises
crucial questions about the efficacy of the pills, she added. Still
to be determined is whether the time-release effect of the pill’s
caffeine content varies from person to person.

“I would not take them the night before you have a midterm just
to make sure you wake up on time,” Applegate said. “Some people
might wake up at 3 a.m., others at 6 a.m.”

As for shelling out $30 for a bottle of pills that lack proof of
being effective, Applegate expressed wariness.

“Your money is much better spent on a good alarm or a nice
roommate,” she said.

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