One of the many side effects of school starting is the disruption of my normal sleep schedule. During the summer months, I feel like a cross between a teenager and an elderly woman: staying up until 2 a.m., taking naps in the middle of the afternoon. The start of school means the end of naps, which turns my 2 a.m. bedtime into something closer to 7 p.m.

Of course, I use the term "bedtime" loosely, as I typically fall asleep on my couch for a couple of hours, wake up, and shuffle down the hall to collapse in bed for the rest of the night.

The problem? Falling asleep early tends to make me wake up earlier than usual...like 3 a.m. early, apparently.

I was hoping a little TV would lull me back into oblivion for a couple more hours, but that plan has been nixed. Why? Possibly because 3 a.m. TV is a frightening experience that could lead to nothing but nightmares.

Without a Trace on TNT: because being a single woman awake in a house alone at 3 a.m. isn't sad enough, now I have to be afraid that I could be abducted by the pizza delivery guy, or worse, the Winged Monkey who I may have failed to notice is really a sociopathic drug dealer.

Or an infomercial for Slim in 6 two channels over: because being surrounded by anorexic 17-year-old girls and the tradition of post-30 ballooning bottoms on my mother's side of the family isn't enough to make a girl body conscious; now I have to watch complete strangers, many of which are currently as thin as I am, talk about their weight loss struggles.

Then there's Hardball Weekend on one of the news channels, which sounds like porn but is really politics--not that there's much difference between the two, since it's a bunch of unattractive people yelling and groaning, and it's all for show, and no one ever really does anything, though someone's sex life is frequently the topic of conversation.

One more channel and you hit Suze Orman, who let's face it, is just altogether frightening. The contrast between her overly tan skin and her shockingly white teeth is rather unsettling. And what's with the pointing? She keeps pointing at you the whole time. And the cadence of her speech? I can't quite place it, but it comes close to Jack Nicholson's monologue in A Few Good Men, so I always feel like she's barking "You can't handle your finances!"

And we wonder why Americans, with their average 2.4 TVs per household, suffer from growing rates of depression and anxiety. Duh! Look at the shit we are watching! And that's at 3 a.m. In the middle of the afternoon? Well, you have soap operas (pick one) where no one every really knows who their daddy is, or you have Law & Order SVU where a woman gets raped, murdered, and, more often than not, chopped into little pieces every hour on the hour.

And the children's stations? Lilo & Stitch. Aliens, people. Aliens. And I don't care how cute he is, or how much he looks like a cuddly blue koala bear. Have you seen the teeth on that thing? My advanced education has taught me that most creatures with teeth like that like to eat meat and that little Lilo is a plump little thing with golden brown skin...kinda like a rotisserie chicken. Perfect for an alien snack if you ask me.

It's disturbing, people. Disturbing and dark in a way that only a breakfast of leftover pizza and vanilla wafers, enjoyed while listening to the testimony of actual Bowflex users, can cure.