Experts: Don't take a study drug. Do this instead.

Whether it's cramming for an exam or pulling an all-nighter to wrap up a paper, studies say college students continue reaching for prescription ADHD medications for a serious boost. Schedule II drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse have become nearly as commonplace on college campuses as red Solo cups and backpacks.

A recent study claims 31 percent of the college students polled used these drugs at some point during their college careers.

Although kids may garner quick-fix results, side effects can be seriously detrimental. According to an article at, short-term problems include headaches, depression, trouble sleeping and nervousness.

Long term issues such as psychological and physical dependency may just be the tip of the iceberg. Several college student suicides, including the 2010 death of Vanderbilt University student Kyle Craig, have been linked to ADHD drug abuse.

The following is a list of seven suggestions for safer alternatives for students to use in order to to gain more energy and better retain information.

Power Up With Complex Carbs

Make complex carbs the focus of your meal. According to a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, complex carbs, including those found in whole grains, fruits and veggies, left subjects feeling more energetic. And the shot of glucose they provide can be brain fuel.

Grab a Cold Shower

A study conducted by Nikolai A. Shevchuk and posted on the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health website suggests a three-minute cold shower could help combat fatigue.

Water Down

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition says mild dehydration can make you drowsy. When the eyes get heavy, chug a couple of glasses of water.

Walk About

Although it may sound backward, exercise gives you more energy. According to an article on, experts say a 10-minute walk can boost energy, which can last as long as two hours.

Power Nap

Some say a 10- to 20-minute power nap can recharge you. Studies by the National Institutes of Mental Health say a one-hour nap helps reverse information overload, but assists in retaining what you've learned.

Then Power Snack

Nutritionist Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, an associate professor at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York and author of "The Uncle Sam Diet," told that a small snack that includes protein, a touch of fat and fiber can be a big help. According to Ayoob, the carbs deliver a quick pick up, the protein amps your energy and the fat makes the energy last longer.

A Whole Latte Energy

In the same article, Ayood suggests bypassing a cup of coffee and making it a low-fat latte. The milk, he explained, transforms the coffee into a protein drink for added energy.

Additional sources