How to Stay Awake & Alert While Studying (without Coffee!)

With midterms and final exams rearing their very ugly heads, you’re probably finding that study time is increasingly important. Too bad you have a job, clubs, a roommate, friends, family, dorm-room sleep hours (read: 3 am bedtime), a cafeteria diet, and a bunch of classes wearing you down. Once you start reading that textbook, suddenly a nice nap seems like a much better idea.

Read on to find out how to keep yourself awake, even if you’re studying in the wee hours of the morning:

Drink a Lot of Water

Remember this from my tips on how to stay awake in class? Well, water is even better for staying up when you’re studying. Dehydration can make you sleepy, so keeping your body hydrated will stave off those symptoms. If you are really sleepy, drink a lot of water to make sure you stay up—if you have to get up to go to the bathroom, it will definitely keep you awake! (Weird, but it works!)

Take Breaks

Your brain needs to rest if you want to study hard for a long time AND do well on your test. Schedule out your time so you can take a break—I would study for 45 minutes, break for 15, and so forth. Set the alarm on your cell phone so you don’t forget (or if you’re afraid you’ll fall asleep). Watch a TV show, talk to a friend, read a book, or listen to some music—but nothing school related at all!

Exercise

Exercise can be a great way to wake yourself up—take a short walk, dance to some music on your iPod, or head over to the gym for a little while. Taking a shower after a workout can wake you up even more.

Don’t Study Somewhere Comfortable

Don’t curl up on the common room couch or lean against some pillows in bed and expect to make it through 50 pages of text—getting comfortable is a sure fire way to sleep through your study time. Go somewhere with good, strong lighting, a non-squishy chair, and a table or desk. Sit up while you study, and change positions now and then.

Eat a Snack

Get your blood sugar up by eating a healthy snack (junk food will just give you a burst of energy but then you’ll crash). Apples are a good food to help you keep your blood sugar stable so you can stay awake (a lot of people say they will wake you up better than caffeine!)

Remember, I also shared some ideas to help you stay awake in class, so if you’re really sleepy, you might want to try those, too! Good luck!