8 Kamal 166 B.E. (Baha’i Caelendar)
Soundtrack in my head: J Boogie, “Do What You Love”
I am embarrassed to admit this, but until recently, I was addicted to energy drinks. Yes, I partied like a Rockstar.
I first encountered these energy beverages in 2004, a time when I was driving frequently between Chicago and Madison. My return trips were sometimes kind of late at night–10:30, 11:30 p.m. and there were many instances when I came close to falling asleep at the wheel. At such times, even coffee was insufficient to keep me safely awake. One such late night, I went into a gas station off the interstate desperate for something to keep me conscious and that’s when I encountered sugar-free Rockstar. I felt the name was so obnoxious that I had to try it. It was remarkably effective, and I was surprised and pleased at the level of alertness I felt for the remainder of the drive.
Later, this late-night driving staple began to creep into my workplace. Starting in 2005, I began to have some difficulties staying awake at work, and my supervisor caught me starting to fall asleep a couple of times. During one of those times, I was told to do “whatever it takes to stay awake.” You can guess what happened next. One can of Rockstar per day turned into two, and on some days even more.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was likely dealing with the first noticeable symptoms of sleep apnea. I don’t know how long I’ve had sleep apnea–sometimes I suspect I’ve had it most of my adult life, but the struggle with daytime sleepiness was definitely noticeable by 2005.
At some point, maybe during 2007 or 2008, I realized that the crash following the buzz was beginning to interfere with work. That’s when I began to see the advertisements for the 5-Hour Energy Supplement. This little bottle–not much bigger than a bottle of Liquid Paper–promised five hours of energy, and no crash. Well, it wouldn’t always deliver on the promise of five hours of energy, but I didn’t crash as much either.
Whether it was Rockstar (sugar-free Monster was another favorite) or 5-Hour Energy, this was turning into an expensive habit. Both the big cans and little bottles cost about $2.50 each. This amounted to $16-25 per week.
Last November, it began to become clear to me that I had sleep apnea, though I couldn’t get into a sleep study to confirm this until late February. My doctor said that my case of sleep apnea was a severe case. Certainly, things had gotten so severe, that every night was a struggle to sleep and every day was a struggle to stay awake. The amount of energy drinks and caffeine I was consuming just to stay at a functional level at work–well, I could only characterize as embarrassing. Finally, starting at the end of April, I got a CPAP machine, and within a couple of weeks, normalcy began to return to my sleep patterns.
I found myself not quite so dependent on energy drinks, yet I still found myself needing them. Finally, I talked to one of my doctors about it, and she recommended the supplement L-Tyrosine, which is one of the ingredients the 5-Hour Energy drink. She said she herself took it, though with a cup of coffee (because she said she “liked the taste of caffeine”). She also recommended vitamin B supplements, which can also be found in energy drinks. In short, she was recommending the healthiest and least problematic ingredients in such drinks.
I’ve been doing this for a month now, and I really notice a difference. I’ve cut out energy drinks from work completely. I take two capsules–1000 mg total–of L-Tyrosine in the morning. Sometimes I’ll have some caffeine along with it, sometimes I won’t. My day operates on an even keel, and I no longer feel like I’m on a stimulant roller-coaster. I’m also noticing a difference in my wallet. I was spending $15-20 per week on stimulation–but a bottle of L-Tyrosine costs me $13 and lasts six weeks–a savings of over $50 per month.
I am writing this because I know there are other people in situations similar to mine, and I thought I’d publicize what’s worked for me. Though I recommend that people see their doctor like I did. L-Tyrosine can potentially have side effects, though they haven’t affected me in any way.