You crack open another can of Red Bull around 3 am feeling your eyelids droop. Every college student has been here at some point in his or her four years pulling the dreaded all-nighter.

Whether it’s finals week or just one of the many hell weeks we all suffer through, what we eat and drink greatly affects the productivity of the all-nighter. Here are some key drinks and snacks to keep your body and mind awake throughout the night and into the morning.



Photo by Caroline Liu

Put that Red Bull down. High sugar, caffeinated drinks will be the downfall of your all-nighter. While they may help you feel energized in the moment, the crash from the sugar will ensure that you won’t make it to the morning with your eyes open. If you find caffeine a necessity, sip a single cup of coffee or black tea throughout the night for a steady, low dose or try to make your own healthy energy drinks.

The best thing to drink to ensure that your mind and body keep pumping into the early hours is ice water. Two or three glasses an hour are ideal to help keep you awake. Dehydration can be one of the main causes of fatigue. Another plus: drinking this much water forces you to take bathroom breaks. Getting up and walking around every hour or so can help to wake you up.

Eat Protein


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According to Dr. Nathan Shier, an Indiana University professor of nutrition science, “consuming high-carb foods releases high levels of a hormone called serotonin into the brain. Too much serotonin makes you lethargic.” In everyday terms: avoid high-carb meals before and during studying unless you want to spend your all-nighter asleep on top of your keyboard.

Snacks high in protein can help you to feel more alert and motivated. Some good high-protein late night munchies include mixed nuts, granola bars, and veggies dipped in hummus. Reaching for these snacks late at night and early in the morning will give your brain the food it needs to keep chugging. Avoid candy and processed foods, as they can lead to a sugar crash and foods with high carbohydrates cause a spike in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling groggy.

#SpoonTip: Pack protein-rich snacks in your backpack to take to the library so that you’re not tempted to buy a bag of chips at the snack store.

Natural Sugars Only


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Like I’ve mentioned multiple times, too much sugar will ultimately cause you to crash due to the spike in blood sugar it gives you. However, you can keep your body energized by snacking on natural sugars found in various various fruits. They key is fiber. Cheryl Harris, a registered dietitian from Virginia, explained that it really helps to have fiber with sugar as it slows the effects of sugar down. Because fruits contain fiber as well as the natural sugars, they are good to eat during your all-nighter.

That being said, it’s vital to remember not to eat them all at once. Have a couple apple slices every hour or a half of a banana. Avoid cherries as they are a natural source of melatonin and can make your body prepare for sleep.

#SpoonTip: Apple slices and peanut butter is a great snack giving your body natural sugars as well as protein.

Chew Gum


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Believe it or not, chewing gum has been proven to help people stay awake and alert in times of boredom. Science shows that this is due to the stimulation of the facial muscles which causes an increase in blood flow to the head. Chewing gum also stimulates the brain because it’s a voluntarily motion, helping to keep you awake.

#SpoonTip: Choose mint flavored gum to help yourself even more. Not only does mint increases cerebral activity, but smelling peppermint has been shown to improve your memory.

Stick to these food and drink tips to perfect your all-nighter. Don’t forget to catch up on sleep the next day after your exam to replenish your body. Happy studying!