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9 Quick Tips on How to Study Without Caffeine

  • Sean 

How are you supposed to stay awake if you are one of those people who don’t like coffee or even caffeine in general? I put together a simple list of 9 ways you can stay awake naturally without the help of caffeine.

Let’s get into the tips.

How to Study Without Caffeine

1. Turn up the lights

One of the simplest ways to stay awake is by lighting your studying area well. You can do this inside by using a good desk lamp and light in your room. If you are studying during the day you can also open a window or study outside for maximum effect.

This is because light affects our circadian rhythms. It’s a signal for your brain to keep you awake and alert.1

2. Drink water

Drinking enough water is important in general. But it also does a great job of keeping you alert when you are trying to study without caffeine sources like coffee.

When you drink water, it helps to hydrate your body and improve your circulation, which can help to keep you awake and alert.

So, if you’re feeling tired and sluggish, try drinking a glass of water and see if it helps to boost your energy and keep you awake.

3. Take a power nap

A great way to study without coffee is by boosting your energy naturally using a power nap. Even 10-20 minutes can be enough to make you feel better.2

Just avoid taking a nap longer than 30 minutes, otherwise, you might feel groggy when you wake up. Also, don’t nap too late in the day, otherwise, your regular sleeping schedule (that I hope you have) might be disrupted.

4. Eat Snacks

Eating obviously gives you energy through food. Try to avoid eating large meals that will make you drowsy. Instead eat small light snacks as you work like nuts, dried fruits, etc. If you eat food like this you will not have the crash that comes so often with caffeine. Instead, you will have more steady and constant energy.

5. Chew Gum

Beyond snacking, just the physical act of chewing can help. Try chewing some gum to stay awake.

There is research that indicates chewing gum can be helpful for staying awake due to increased blood flow to the head.3

But beyond this, it’s possible that the benefits extend into learning in general. There is evidence that students who chew gum during learning outperform students who don’t during testing.4

6. Exercise

The research indicates that exercise keeps you awake. For instance, a study examining NASA flight controllers’ alertness in overnight shifts found that exercise and lights helped keep them more alert and happy.5

I work out late in the day a couple of days per week and I always find that sleeping on these days is a bit harder afterward. This is because exercising naturally increases alertness and wakes you up.

7. Use a standing desk

If you are tired and sitting at your desk you can start to feel more and more sleepy. But if you have to stand up it’s much easier to stay awake and alert. After all, It’s kind of hard to fall asleep while standing because of the natural effort that it takes.6

Additionally, research indicates that standing could slightly improve cognitive performance.7 But besides this small benefit, I tend to find that I can just think much better by pacing around or walking in general. Using a standing desk makes pacing easier.

8. Lower your room temperature

Room temperature can have effects on alertness. A study found that keeping a work environment at 20.0 °C led to discomfort and a cooling sensation. While it was the least comfortable they also found that this excited the sympathetic nervous system, increasing mental alertness.8

Although this will get less and less comfortable as time goes on, you should consider temporarily decreasing your room temperature.

9. Cold shower

A more radical version of lowering your room temperature is taking a cold shower. While this will definitely wake you up, it’s last on this list for a reason. Cold showers come with a trade-off. Cold showers have been linked to decreased cognitive performance that lasts well into warming back up again.9

While you will definitely feel awake after taking a cold shower but it can come with lower cognitive performance.


  1. Effects of Light on Circadian Rhythms | NIOSH | CDC. (2022, May 16).
  2. Milner, C. E., & Cote, K. A. (2009). Benefits of napping in healthy adults: Impact of nap length, time of day, age, and experience with napping. Journal of Sleep Research, 18(2), 272–281.
  3. Allen, A., & Smith, A. (2011). A review of the evidence that chewing gum affects stress, alertness and cognition. Journal of Behavioral and Neuroscience Research, 9, 7–23.
  4. Ginns, P., Kim, T., & Zervos, E. (2019). Chewing gum while studying: Effects on alertness and test performance. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 33(2), 214–224.
  5. Barger, L. K., Sullivan, J. P., Lockley, S. W., & Czeisler, C. A. (2020). Exposure to Short Wavelength-enriched White Light and Exercise Improves Alertness and Performance in Operational NASA Flight Controllers Working Overnight Shifts. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 63(2), 111–118.
  6. Creasy, S. A., Rogers, R. J., Byard, T. D., Kowalsky, R. J., & Jakicic, J. M. (2016). Energy Expenditure During Acute Periods of Sitting, Standing, and Walking. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 13(6), 573–578.
  7. Rosenbaum, D., Mama, Y., & Algom, D. (2017). Stand by Your Stroop: Standing Up Enhances Selective Attention and Cognitive Control. Psychological Science, 28(12), 1864–1867.
  8. Tham, K. W., & Willem, H. C. (2010). Room air temperature affects occupants’ physiology, perceptions and mental alertness. Building and Environment, 45(1), 40–44.
  9. Muller, M. D., Gunstad, J., Alosco, M. L., Miller, L. A., Updegraff, J., Spitznagel, M. B., & Glickman, E. (2012). Acute Cold Exposure and Cognitive Function: Evidence for Sustained Impairment. Ergonomics, 55(7), 792–798.