There are plenty of ways to stay awake while studying for finals, but not all of them are exactly that great for you. Sure, Red Bull and other less-than-savory alternatives may get the job done, but you just know they'll end up making you feel like crap by the next morning. On top of the lack of sleep and the stress caused by all the studying you need to get done, you're going to put yourself in a pretty bad place come finals time if you use super unhealthy stuff to stay up. So why rely on sugary, harmful, crash-inducing substances to help you stay awake when there are so many other better alternatives out there?
I'm not going to tell you that you shouldn't stay up till the wee hours to cram before exams. (Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?) But you're putting your body through plenty of stress throughout finals week, and you should try to take care of it in some compactly, and not using harmful ways to keep it awake is one of them. So do right by your mind and body this finals season by following these 15 healthy ways to go about staying up late, and avoid the inevitable crash and burn at the end of the evening.
1. Study In Bright Light
Not only is it hard to fall asleep when it's super bright, but Everyday Health notes that lots of light tricks your circadian rhythm into still thinking it is day, fending off sleepiness for a little longer.
2. Chew Ice Or Gum
Chomping on something keeping your mouth busy, which makes it hard to fall asleep. Psychology Today also notes that chewing gum also makes you much more alert, making it an ideal late-night studying tactic.
3. Stand Up While Studying
Though sitting upright at a desk can be more helpful than studying on a sofa in the evening, what's even more effective is standing up, as it is virtually impossible to fall asleep while standing, and the constant shifting of weight will keep you wide awake.
4. Exercise Before Hitting The Books
Plan your workout right before diving into your studies. A study cited in The Telegraph suggests that exercise can actually help keep you awake, as the extra blood flow and racing heartbeat are guaranteed to put yourself in an alert place to keep studying into the night.
5. Keep A Cold Environment
It's no secret that being warm can make you sleepy. Don't get too crazy with the heater and ditch the blanket to ensure you're not so comfortable temperature-wise that you find yourself nodding off.
6. Drink Caffeine In Small, Spread-Out Doses
One study suggests small, frequent doses of caffeine over long periods of time is actually the best strategy for keeping yourself awake. Good news: it's significantly healthier for you to do it this way, too.
7. Eat Healthy Snacks To Keep Your Blood Sugar Up
Your blood sugar levels are no doubt falling late into the evening as dinner recedes into a distant memory. The folks over at Lifehacker suggest you skip the sleep-inducing carbs in favor of protein-packed alternatives like beef jerky and peanut butter to give your brain an extra boost.
8. Study In A Group Or With A Friend
This isn't always possible, but studying next to someone or with a few people guarantees you at least one person there to stimulate your brain by chatting with them or to poke you awake should you pass out.
9. Switch Topics When You Start Feeling Sleepy
While this might be one of the oldest tricks in the book, it's definitely one to keep in mind. If you just can't muster getting yourself through the next six chapters of a boring subject, switch after two chapters and come back to it. You'll likely fall asleep if you try to power through.
10. Try Acupressure
Psychology Today notes that acupressure is an effective way to recharge and wake up. If you're feeling like you're about to doze off, set aside a 30-minute break to either lightly tap or massage the five central pressure points of the top of the head, the top of the back of the neck, on the back of the hands, just below the knees and on the bottom of the feet. Within no time, you'll start feeling your energy coming back.