Apples are healthy, and may keep you awake better than coffee. Photo: CC, pexels, Chevanon.
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Your go-to guide on coffee alternatives for midterm season

Coffee is a regular go-to solution for many students trying to pull all-nighters in this month’s midterm season. However, excessive coffee consumption can come with its own range of side effects—including nausea, anxiety, heart palpitations, and other things that no one wants to deal with while trying to squeeze in that one last chapter. So, the Fulcrum has put together a list of healthy food and drink alternatives to help you stay awake longer this month.


You’ve probably heard that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but you may not have heard these vitamin-rich snacks can also be used as an effective way to stay awake. While apples are known for their rich antioxidant, flavonoid, and fibre contents, they can also help to improve neurological health, and their natural sugars can help stimulate the brain in a way comparable to coffee.

Flax seeds

Flax seeds have so many health benefits that some people have come to classify them as a “superfood.” Alongside rich omega-3, lignan, and fibre contents, these seeds contain high levels of protein and energy. So, flax seeds make for a perfect late-night snack, or even as a breakfast food to help you prepare for the studies ahead of you, that can be blended into a smoothie, mixed into salads, or eaten by themselves.

Green tea

The U of O dining hall, which is open into the wee hours of the morning, is the perfect place to be when you want a hot cup of green tea, and most coffee shops have closed down. This drink increases brain activity, with less caffeine than your normal cup of joe to help you stay alert, and productive, for longer periods of time. Green tea is also rumored to help improve memory function, prevent sickness, and promote a sense of calm—so, it may be just what you need before an exam.


Water is one of life’s basic necessities—yet, so many people fail to get enough of it. Water can have a multitude of healthy side-effects, including increased energy, removal of the natural buildup of toxins in one’s body, and reduced dehydration-related fatigue. In fact, since water does not consist of any calories, or fat, it is a practical substitute for those who want to avoid high-calorie drinks like french vanilla lattes, which may give you a sugar rush, but can unintentionally lead you to a sugar crash. So, if you are looking for a drink that will keep you awake, pour yourself a glass of water and throw in a couple of ice cubes—the immediate cold, and long-term effects should help you to power through the worst of your drowsiness.

Staying awake for extensive hours to study not only overloads the brain, but tends to make the body more susceptible to infection. So, while these food and drink suggestions might help you to stay alert, they are no substitute for sleep. If you have to make your paper’s deadline, then grab an apple, and start cramming. Otherwise, you may want to close your laptop, and get some rest—nothing helps to refresh the brain like sleep does.


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