How to Stay Awake Without Coffee

It’s a tale as old as time: College student is overloaded with work. College student stays up all night studying. College student shotguns some overpriced coffee to stay awake in the next day’s classes, where college student receives more work, and stays up all THAT night studying, and downs some more coffee the next morning and… you see where this is going. 

If dogs are a man’s best friend, then coffee is a student’s. Anyone who has attempted to enter Quadbucks at 9 A.M. will nod in assent when I say: we are quite possibly single handedly keeping Starbucks in business. Okay, so maybe that’s a slight stretch, but not by that much. With the kind of schedules we’re maintaining, sleep is definitely not the highest priority, so a lot of us need coffee in order to function.

But what about those of us who don’t, or can’t, drink coffee? We have to pull all-nighters too. What are we supposed to do in the mornings?

Never fear, friends! There is hope. I’ll be your knight in shining sweatpants, here to guide you through the basics of How to Stay Awake Without Coffee (alternately: Surviving Caffeine-Free in a Starbucks World):


1. Eat something. A good something.

As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the coffee away… or something like that. But seriously, thanks to the vitamins and natural sugars in apples, they can allegedly keep you awake just as well as a cup o’ joe. Even if apples aren’t your type, consider not skipping breakfast on those days when you’re absolutely exhausted. Something small and nutritious like a granola bar or fresh fruit can work wonders. Be careful not to overeat, though... a full-blown IHOP meal might sound tasty and fill you up, but there’s few things worse than hitting a food coma in your 10 A.M. class.


2. Also, drink lots of water.

Hydration is the most important meal of the day. I think. Keeping your body fine-tuned by getting a kickstart on hydration for the day can also help you shake off those z’s. If you’re certain that the only thing you’ll be thinking while drinking that tasteless water is the infuriatingly tantalizing taste of coffee that you could be drinking instead, try infused water! There’s so many combinations out there to try, so hit up Pinterest and drink some good ol’ H2O.


3. Work out! Move yo body! Get that blood pumpin’!

Maybe a ten-mile run at 6 A.M. doesn’t appeal to you (or maybe it does; hey, you do you!), but even something simple like a few jumping jacks in your dorm room can perk you up. Find a morning routine that works to get your blood circulating, and go take on that 8 A.M.!


4. Plan your sleep, even if it means getting less.

This one sounds a little counterproductive, I know. Prepare for some science: essentially, when we sleep, we experience the 90-minute sleep cycle over and over. A portion of that cycle is deep sleep, and if your alarm wakes you up during that portion of the cycle, you won’t feel refreshed. Many times, this is why we feel groggy and worse after we take a nap than if we hadn’t taken one at all. If you’re not going to be getting very much sleep (or even if you are! I do this every single night), calculate the best times to go to bed based on when you have to wake up. If you don’t want to do the math by hand, a quick Google digs up numerous “sleep calculators” on the world wide web. It may freak you out a little to wait and get 4.5 hours of sleep instead of falling asleep instantly and going for 5, but I promise, once you find your groove, you’ll start waking up feeling much better. Dare I say, even rejuvenated. Give it a shot. 


5. Let there be light!

If you’re having trouble getting out of bed in the morning - let’s be real, who doesn’t? - try not to leave your room so dark after turning off your alarm. Immediately opening the curtains or blinds to let in some sunlight will interact with your body’s circadian rhythms and basically tell your brain it’s time to wake up now. If only it were that easy to do consciously. 


Look, coffee or no coffee, we’re all just doing our best to survive in the chaos of college. No matter how much sleep you get, or how overwhelmed you are, or how many times you’ve dozed off in your 8 A.M., you’re doing a wonderful job. In the immortal words of Kris Jenner:


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