Staying up to cram for final exams and writing papers you should have started weeks ago is essential, but when you're running on 4 hours of sleep, it can be tough. Before you reach for a 5-Hour Energy or your eighth cup of coffee, try out these 10 foods, drinks, and exercises to help you stay awake and healthy through finals. 

1. Apples

juice, pasture, apple
Meredith Ross

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but an apple can also keep sleep away with natural sugars. The boost you get from eating in apple is prolonged and steadier than anything you get from caffeine, and you don't have to worry about crashing. In addition, apples contain Vitamin C and fiber, making them a much healthier alternative to coffee. 

2. Water

dropping ice, water splash, water cup, cup of water, splash, water, ice
Jocelyn Hsu

Not only can dehydration tire you out, but research has shown it can also cause decreases in cognitive functions like memory, attention, and language skills, which are crucial for studying.

Especially if you've been drinking coffee and using the bathroom a lot, your body is likely to be low on water. Keeping a bottle or glass of water with you at your desk will remind you to stay hydrated and keep your brain functioning at 100%. 

3. Dark Chocolate

beer, coffee, tea
Jeanne Kessira

I'm already sold, but the science behind chocolate's caffeine content is pretty cool too. Dark chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine as well as a similar compound called theobromine which acts as a cardiac stimulant. In addition, flavanols found in cocoa may improve memory and attention

4. Salsa

tomato, onion, pepper, meat, parsley, vegetable
Emily Chaisson

Not only can the spice of salsa be a jolt to your senses, but tomatoes are high in an amino acid called tyramine, which triggers the release of norepinephrine, a stimulant that can boost brain activity. Make sure it isn't too spicy, though, because you don't want heartburn to keep you up when you finally get to bed.

5. Exercise

Gabby Phi

When you sit for long periods of time, not only do you get bored, but you're also more likely to start dozing off. Luckily, there's no need to head to the gym or put on your workout clothes, as 10 jumping jacks or some yoga or stretching should get your blood flowing.

If you need a longer break, try taking a walk outside where the fresh air should wake you up.

6. Tea

hot chocolate, chocolate, cream, cappuccino, tea, milk, espresso, coffee
Julie Lau

Tea contains less caffeine than your average cup of coffee, but it's the other compound it contains, L-theanine, that you should really get excited about. L-theanine is an amino acid that increases energy, improves mood, and enhances cognition and memory.

Matcha and other shade-grown green teas have the most L-theanine, but all teas have at least some, which can also counteract the negative effects of caffeine.

7. Walnuts

hazelnut, meat, cashew, nut
Kirby Barth

With the highest concentration of omega-3s among nuts, walnuts provide sustained energy for your body. However, all nuts are a good source of these fatty acids and proteins, so you're welcome to switch it up. Try to limit yourself to about an ounce, though, as they are way too easy to overeat.

8. Salmon

smoked salmon, salmon steak, sushi, lemon, meat, steak, sashimi, trout, fillet, seafood, fish, salmon
Jonathan Chan

Another food rich in good fats and protein is salmon. Salmon is low-calorie and high-energy, providing a needed boost to help you stay awake. Baked, smoked, grilled, in sushi, on a bagel – you name it, salmon will provide you with the long-term energy you need.

9. Citrus

study snack, textbook, notebook, taking notes, notes, studying, Snack, citrus, orange
Jocelyn Hsu

Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, clementines, and pummelos are high in Vitamin C, and the freshness of the scent itself may wake you up. Aside from boosting your immune system, Vitamin C can increase alertness and energy.

10. Eggs

cream, milk, egg
Susan Bean

Eggs are such a versatile food that it's hard to get bored with them. They're also another great source of protein, which can increase energy and mental alertness. Try one of these recipes in the morning or at night to get an egg-cellent energy boost (sorry about that one).

It's easy to get overwhelmed at the end of the semester – or the middle – and let your self-care go out the window. Make sure to give yourself a break every once in a while and stay awake and alert with these 10 tips.