Nobody likes skimping on sleep, but chances are you’ve done it. Whether to study for an exam, finish a tough project, or simply because you got stuck in an airport, pulling an all-nighter happens.
There’s no denying that sleep deprivation has negative effects, including bleak moods and poor cognitive function in the short term, and weight gain and increased likelihood of diabetes in the long term. Nedeltcheva AV, et al. (2014). Metabolic effects of sleep disruption, links to obesity and diabetes. DOI: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000082 Short MA, et al. (2015). Sleep deprivation leads to mood deficits in health adolescents. DOI: 10.1016/j.sleep.2015.03.007 Liu Q, et al. (2015). Effects of 72 hours total sleep deprivation on male astronauts’ executive functions and emotion. DOI: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2015.05.015
That’s not all. Check this out: More recent research suggests that sleep deprivation blurs our ability to accurately recognize emotions on the faces of others, particularly happiness. Killgore WDS, et al. (2017). Sleep deprivation impairs recognition of specific emotions. DOI: 10.1016/j.nbscr.2017.01.001
One 2019 study also showed that participants in a sleep deprivation study had decreased motivation and “attentional performance.” Basically, a chronic lack of Zzz’s may leave you with the attention span of a goldfish. Massar SAA, et al. (2019). Sleep deprivation increases the cost of attentional effort: Performance, preference and pupil size. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.03.032
But with all that in mind, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage and treat your body (and brain) as well as possible under bad circumstances. Here’s how to survive the night —and recover ASAP.
Bank sleep ahead of time
While you can’t always anticipate an all-nighter, if you happen to know a stressful time or multi-time zone trip is headed your way, there are a few ways to prep your body.
“If you’re already a sleep-deprived person and then you pull an all-nighter, you’re going to have more cumulative effects,” says Shalini Paruthi, MD, who specializes in sleep medicine at St. Luke’s Sleep Medicine and Research Center.
But if you’ve been sleeping the recommended seven to nine hours a night, you won’t feel as bad after one missed night. Arnal PJ, et al. (2015). Benefits of sleep extension on sustained attention and sleep pressure before and during total sleep deprivation and recovery. DOI: 10.5665/sleep.5244
Get any amount of shut-eye
Yes, we know this is about how to stay up, but if you can, even a 20-minute nap is better than nothing.
“Opt for either a brief nap of less than 20 minutes or a longer nap of 60 to 90 minutes, if possible,” says Natalie Dautovich, PhD, an environmental scholar for the National Sleep Foundation.
“This will allow you to wake up during the lighter stages of sleep and feel more rested.”
Bring on the lights
“We need darkness to have the onset of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us sleepy,” Dautovich says. “So if you’re trying to stay awake, bright light can be very effective.”
Specifically, light close to your eyes (for instance, a desk lamp or your computer screen) will help kick your brain into high alert.
Keep your room temperature moderate
We sleep best when the room is cool, between 65 and 70 degrees. If you need to stay awake, the solution is to find a not-too-cool, not-too-hot sweet spot. “Make the room temperate or layer on clothing,” Dautovich says.
Keeping the temperature around 75 degrees should keep you alert, and also prevent any heat-related drowsiness.
Skip the sugar and snack on protein and carbs
This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but refined sugar will lead to a crash within a few hours.
“Eating candy to stay awake is not sustained energy,” says Tamara Melton, RDN, co-founder of Diversify Dietetics. “It’s a simple sugar that will spike your energy levels up and then drop you down.”
Instead, focus on foods that provide long-lasting energy. “Eat something with lean protein,” Melton says. Greek yogurt and berries or an apple and peanut butter make great choices.
Just make sure you avoid heavy foods. “Anything really high in fat — like fettuccini alfredo or fried chicken — will not promote staying awake,” Melton says.
Instead of one big meal, snack a little throughout the night so you’re less likely to suffer an energy crash.
Drink a little coffee — and a lot of water
The FDA says that, for most adults, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day (about four cups of coffee) is safe. If you’re staying up all night, spread that out. FDA. (2018). Spilling the beans: How much caffeine is too much. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much
“You want to aim for 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine, or a cup or two,” Melton says. Have your coffee with a snack to allow a slower release of caffeine into your system.
The key is to not OD on caffeine. “Often when you’re pulling an all-nighter, you need to concentrate,” Melton says. “More than two cups of coffee, and you might get jittery and your focus will decrease.”
After 3 or 4 hours, Melton says it’s okay to have another one to two cups of java. “Just know that it won’t work as well because you’re even more tired at that point,” Melton says.
And once you’re done with coffee, start chugging H2O. “When you’re hydrated you can concentrate better and every part of your system just works better,” Melton says.
Several studies have shown chewing gum can increase alertness, improve intellectual performance, and even enhance productivity. Allen AP, et al. (2015). Chewing gum: Cognitive performance, mood, well-being, and associated physiology. DOI: 10.1155/2015/654806
Get up and move
“Take short breaks every 45 minutes or so to walk around,” Paruthi says. If you’re drinking lots of water, as Melton suggests, it should be easy to build in a bathroom break about every hour.
Paruthi also says you should give your eyes a break occasionally to help stay alert. “If you’re on your computer screen, try looking up at a point in the distance to relax your eye muscles every now and then.”
Despite the fact that my most recent post on course-notes.org discussed reasons “why the infamous all-nighter is a terrible idea,” I would like to share some advice for those of you that will, without a doubt, pull numerous all-nighters in the coming years.
For starters, it’s common knowledge that the human body is not meant to ever spend 24 hours awake at any given time. In order to pull an all-nighter successfully, the combination of preparation, planning and execution are essential. I use the word successful boldly; there is a major difference between staying awake for 24 hours versus having the ability to efficiently and effectively study throughout the night. If you’re able to abide by the majority of the suggestions below, you’ll be much better off than you otherwise would be.
- Choose your study location wisely. I recommend selecting a bright and stimulating spot where you can focus on your studies with minimal interruptions. If possible, open a window or two; the combination of naturally occurring sounds, the breeze as well as cold air will help you stay awake.
- Study buddy. It’s always risky attempting to pull an all-nighter on your own. If you have a good friend that will be staying up late, be sure to do so as duo. I recommend doing so with only one other individual. From my experience, adding a third person into the mix creates distraction and will decrease your productivity for the night.
- Be sure to lower your screen brightness throughout the night to ensure your eyes are not strained excessively.
- Be sure to limit the number of possible distraction you surround yourself with. If you are to remain focused for hours on end, the TV should be off, your cell phone should be set on silent and you should only surf the web if it’s a value-add to your studies. It’s very easy to get sidetracked when tired, especially when your overall motivation to study is lacking.
- If you work well to music, subtle background music will help keep you focused and alert. Don’t play the music too loud and be sure to select genres and artists that will benefit your overall concentration. Avoid slow and depressing music at all costs.
- Set an alarm to go off every 30 minutes. Doing so will help you manage your time and productivity as well as give you the much needed quick break here and there your mind and body so desperately need. After each alarm sounds, try to do a combination of jumping jacks and pushups to increase your heart rate; doing so will increase alertness. In the event you nod off, your alarm will help minimize the risk of you accidentally sleeping for hours on end.
- If you’re one of the lucky people that can fall asleep quickly, I recommend taking several very brief 20 minute power naps throughout the night. WARNING – Only do so if you have someone to keep you company that will ensure you’re awake on time and that you get back to your studies promptly.
- Laughing and smiling keep you awake. Every so often, watch a five to ten minute youtube video you know you’ll enjoy. I suggest compilation videos that consist of epic fails, bloopers and the best vines.
- If you’re becoming excessively tired and grow increasingly concerned with your lack in alertness, take a quick and extremely cold shower five minute shower and you’ll return to your studies feeling rejuvenated.
- Avoid caffeine! If caffeine is absolutely necessary, limit yourself to a sip every 30 minutes (when your alarm sounds – wink wink) to prevent yourself from crashing later on. Consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the night is a terrible idea. Not only do you put yourself at risk of crashing around exam time, but your body builds a tolerance to caffeine throughout the night forcing you to consume far greater amounts of caffeine in order to feel the same effect.
- Stay hydrated at all times; dehydration makes us sleepy and lazy. Unlike room temperature liquids, cold liquids shock your system and can help you stay awake. Consuming large amounts of water will force you to use the restroom often which provides you the opportunity to take a quick study break as well.
- Don’t drink alcohol or depressants of any kind.
- Avid fatty, sugary and carb loaded foods.
- Eat foods that help maintain your blood sugar levels; Apples are perfect for the occasion.
- Pour on the hot sauce! If you don’t mind a little spice, add some hot sauce to everything you consume throughout the night. The burning sensation (lips and mouth) will keep you awake and ensure you keep up on your fluid intake.
- Avoid eating heavy meals. Stuffing yourself (think Thanksgiving) makes you full, bloated and excessively sleepy. If possible, eat small, protein rich snacks. Remaining hungry will limit how tired you get; we all know how hard it is to fall asleep on an empty stomach.
Daniel Blackgraduated from Claremont McKenna College in May of 2011. Considered by many to be a thought leader in the education space, Daniel is a regular contributor to a number of sites and blogs and enjoys providing advice, suggestions and recommendations to both students and recent college graduates.
Finals, due dates, exams, and deadlines all have one thing in common: they convince us that skipping sleep is a good idea. While that’s certainly not true, sometimes pulling an all-nighter is your only option to get things done. If you have to go that route, you may as well do it right.
First, let’s talk about what we mean by an “all-nighter.” Some people are naturally night owls and tend towards later schedules. If you work the evening shift, go to bed at 4am and wake up at noon, you’re not pulling an all-nighter, you just have an atypical schedule. However, if you’re planning to get three hours of sleep tonight so you can meet that deadline, congratulations! You’re an all-nighter candidate. Before you grab that energy drink, though, ask yourself if this is really worthwhile.
When to Pull an All-Nighter
Denying your body sleep is naturally unhealthy. As such, there’s one rule above all others for pulling an all-nighter: don’t. Obviously, that’s not always the most practical solution and some days you just have to work late. However, you should always keep in mind that reducing your amount of sleep takes a toll on your body. If minimizing sleep is a part of your typical routine, you’re going to ruin any of the productivity benefits you’d gain with those extra few hours.
All-nighters are also not great for your memory, attention, or focus the following day. Staying up til 4am to study for a test at 8am is a bad idea . Just because you spent all night reading words on pages doesn’t mean your brain retained the information. If you need to function the following day, cut your losses—or at least compromise and get some sleep.
There are still some situations where staying up all night might not kill any benefit you would otherwise gain:
- When your workload is light the next day. It’s a bad idea to coast through your job or classes, but we all have slower days than others. Staying up late on Thursday to finish a project due Friday isn’t going to be nearly as bad if you only have to work a couple hours for the rest of the day.
- When you have time for naps. Losing sleep is a problem that’s only solved by getting sleep. Staying up all night to get a project done for the morning can be alright if you can find time to nap in the afternoon. If staying up all night means you won’t get a chance to sleep for two days, reconsider.
- When you haven’t pulled another all-nighter recently. Staying up all night means losing sleep. Staying up every night means wrecking your sleep schedule permanently. If you’ve skipped a substantial amount of sleep within the last few days, don’t do it again until you’re well rested.
How to Tackle the Big Night
Pulling an all-nighter should be treated like any other physically challenging endeavor: you need to make sure you have the right supplies and prepare yourself before going in. When you know you’re going to be skipping sleep, follow these guidelines:
Many a student will know the struggle of having more work than hours in the day. Like me, during the prickly end of the semester/term, you might find that you’re gearing up for an all-nighter to catch up on some work, deeply regretting the massive Netflix binge that you pulled yesterday instead of doing anything productive. Sometimes, it’s inevitable that you will have to push through the night, bleary eyed, just to get shit done.
1. Go in with a game plan
Don’t decide to pull an all-nighter without some idea of what you need to get done. If you have a massive list of shit to do, figure out what’s most important. 40% essay due the next day as well as a lab report due the day after and a couple of bits of homework chucked in there too? Just focus on getting the essay done. The more work you give yourself to do the harder it will be to actually get anything done and you’ll feel like you’re running towards a finish line that isn’t getting any closer.
2. Don’t fall for the ‘I’ll do it in the morning’
When you’re starting to fall into the gales of sleep deprivation you’ll probably start making these sorts of promises with yourself, ones like ‘If I go to bed now I’ll get up early and finish it in the morning’. You know you’re lying- once your head hits the pillow you’re down and out, so don’t trick yourself into falling for these false promises.
3. Stay away from your bed
It’s tempting to set up shop in the middle of your bed, cocooned by study notes and blankets. Don’t do it- you’ll find yourself five minutes in and fast asleep. Get out of your bed and out of your room if you can. You want to be comfortable, but not comfortable enough to fall asleep, and when you start getting to the early hours of the morning even your bedroom floor will seem like a good place for a nap.
4. Know when to give in
Sometimes, the all-nighter isn’t going to work. You might be running off too little sleep in the first place, and your eyes will refuse to stay open no matter how hard you try to focus on the notes in front of you. If this is the case, give it up. Try a power nap and if you still can’t get into gear pack it up and call it a night. Half-baked ideas and sentences that trail off into nothing are not going to fare well with your marker, and sometimes the penalty for handing in the assignment a day late will be worth the extra time. For exams, you’re not going to be getting any marks if you’re dozing straight through it, so take the sleep and hope that something from class has sunk in.
5. Get a good sleep the next night
Pulling constant all-nighters might be a trademark of student life, but you need to give yourself a chance to catch up on some good solid sleep. For the following night, read this for some advice on making sure you’re banking some deep sleep and if you really need to keep yourself up to power through more work, at least take a good nap. Aim for no longer than 30 mins so you can avoid waking up feeling groggy and not knowing what year it is, and have some sort of caffeine boost beforehand. By the time you wake up the caffeine should kick in and keep you going for that little bit longer.
Sometimes the dreaded all-nighter just can’t be avoided. Maybe you have a new job working night shifts, it’s finals week, or you’re having a sleepover party. Regardless of your reasons, staying up all night is tough.
Human sleep patterns follow natural circadian rhythms. Your circadian rhythms are like internal clocks affecting the way you think, feel, and behave throughout the day. Circadian rhythms are based on the lightness or darkness of your environment.
When your brain perceives darkness outside, your body begins to release a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin makes you drowsy and prepares your body for sleep.
Staying up all night means fighting this natural process, which is not only difficult, but also unhealthy. Sleep deprivation can impact your ability to learn and focus. It can even be dangerous. In 2013, there were at least 72,000 car accidents caused by drowsy driving.
If you must stay up all night, the following tips can help you do it safely.
The easiest way to stay up all night is to reset your internal clock. This can take up to one week, but it’s possible. You may experience serious drowsiness at first, but your body does catch on.
If you’re switching to the night shift, give your body a few days of practice. Your circadian rhythms still rely on light cues, so make sure you’re sleeping in a very dark room during the day. Blackout curtains and eye masks are particularly helpful.
Caffeine is a helpful pick-me-up and can increase your alertness. It helps fight one of the natural substances your body releases to make you drowsy.
Studies have found that moderate doses of caffeine (600 milligrams [mg] or more than four cups of coffee) can improve your ability to think and perform tasks, but high doses (900 mg or more) have the opposite effect. High doses of caffeine can cause symptoms like anxiety and shakiness that make it harder for you to concentrate.
To stay up all night, don’t rely on one big dose of caffeine. Too much coffee can lead to stomach upset. Instead, try taking several smaller doses throughout the night such as espresso shots, caffeine pills, or caffeinated gum.
Energy drinks contain varying amounts of caffeine, typically the equivalent of one to five cups of coffee. They also contain guarana, an ingredient that also contains caffeine, which makes the total amount of caffeine higher than it appears.
When using energy drinks, it’s difficult to know exactly how much caffeine you’re ingesting, and extremely high doses of caffeine can be toxic. They’re especially dangerous when mixed with drugs or alcohol. In 2011, more than 20,000 people went to the emergency room because of energy drinks.
Taking a series of small naps throughout the night may help you stay alert. Although it’s not equal to a full night’s sleep, short naps can be restorative. Most studies on night-shift workers find that naps reduce sleepiness and improve performance.
Try to catch 15 to 20 minutes of sleep during a break. If you’re driving through the night, pull into a rest stop for a quick nap.
Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to stay up all night. We all need adequate sleep to function properly in day-to-day tasks, and sleep deprivation can be dangerous. For example, sleep-deprived people shouldn’t drive because a lack of sleep causes slower reaction times and poorer decision-making.
But unfortunately, sometimes pulling an all-nighter and struggling through the next day is the only option. If you’ve reached that point, here are a few tips to make the process as painless as possible.
If you can, take a nap ahead of time.
You can either take a nap before the all-nighter to give yourself some energy, or you can take a brief nap (20-30 minutes) at some point during the night. A little bit of sleep is better than none at all.
Make the room as bright as possible.
If you typically sleep in a dark room — which you should! — having a lot of lights on will make it difficult for you to feel sleepy. Plus, you know how looking at the blue light emitted by electronics can suppress melatonin release, making it harder for you to get tired? Pulling an all-nighter is one of the very few times when this could actually be beneficial.
Stay away from sugar.
“Eating candy to stay awake is not sustained energy,” Tamara Melton, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Greatist. “It’s a simple sugar that will spike your energy levels up and then drop you down.” Instead, snack on protein-rich foods, and eat small amounts throughout the night rather than one large meal. Trying to digest a single, carb-heavy meal could also cause your energy to crash.
Hydration is key.
Drink as much water as you can — research suggests that staying hydrated will improve your focus and keep you alert. “Staying hydrated can help your brain work better when you need to survive on less sleep,” Sammy Margo, sleep expert and author of The Good Sleep Guide, told Livingly.
Try to power through the next day.
As tempting as it may be to crash after an all-nighter and sleep for hours throughout the day, that will just set you up for more sleep issues going forward. If at all possible, take a nap in the morning, then stick to your regular schedule and go to bed as close to your normal bedtime as you can manage.
Evaluate your energy levels during the day to make sure you have enough energy for the tasks you need to complete and don’t push yourself – if you feel too tired to drive, or need to take a step back before making an important decision, that’s okay.
[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]
Featured images: Naraoneill/Shutterstock
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I’m pretty sure every college has the same urban legend: you know, the one about the guy who stays up all night studying, surviving exclusively on Red Bull and Sour Patch Kids, only to miss his exam the following morning because he passes out on his way to class and winds up at the ER with a concussion. Okay, this might be a bit of a worst case scenario, but the reality is: at some point in college, you’ll inevitably be forced to stay up studying way into the early hours of the morning. And, if you’re going to put yourself through that, you might as well make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. Here are our top tips for pulling an all-nighter:
Get At Least Some Sleep
Whether it’s at night right before you start studying or earlier that day, try to get a 30 – 60 minute nap in so you’re not totally running on empty. And if you start dozing off while studying? Take a quick nap to get yourself a boost. But, be sure to set more than enough alarms on your phone so you’ll actually wake up.
More Caffeine Isn’t Always the Answer
Even though your first instinct may be to hit up Starbucks to prep for your all-nighter, it’s actually better to start by drinking plenty of ice water. More caffeine will only cause a bigger crash in the end and cause you to be super dehydrated. Save the coffee and energy drinks for when you do inevitably crash (and then switch back to water).
Late Night Food Delivery
Whatever snacks you choose, you want to stay away from pure sugar. Aim for food with a balance of protein and carbs to keep your energy level stable (i.e. you officially have permission to order pizza).
Your Surroundings Matter
Keeping the lights bright and the temperature down will help keep you awake. Just make sure you’ve got a good jacket or blanket with you so that you’re still able to concentrate.
Turn the TV Off (and get off Instagram)
If you’re going to stay up late and study, you need to, well, actually study. Limiting distractions will help you stay focused and get the most out of your all-nighter. And yes, even just having Law & Order: SVU reruns playing for “background noise” will distract you.
But Most Importantly: Don’t Do it Too Often!
Pulling frequent all-nighters and having an irregular sleep schedule causes not only an increased risk for long term mental health problems but an immediate increase in risk for addiction and impulsive behavior as well. So save all-nighters for when you have absolutely no other choice.
If you’re one of the many who visits some of the well-known insomnia doctors around your area, you are definitely dealing with the hardships of hitting the sack regularly and flawlessly. While there are some who needs to stay up and pull an all-nighter due to a lot of reasons on certain occasions. It could be because you need to finish a school project, or is wrapping up a proposal to present to your boss the next day, or you just simply wanted to binge-watch a Netflix series from season 1. For whatever reason it may be, pulling an all-nighter is not that easy, especially to those who are not used to staying past their bedtime. While it takes a little practice to pull it off quite effectively and safely.
Everyone knows that procrastination is never a good move, however, it has to happen due to some unexpected instances or simply because you don’t have a choice. If you are caught up needing to pull an all-nighter to attend to a very important matter or business, here are some effective tips to pull an all-nighter like a functional and responsible adult.
Technically, you have to acquire a complete rest the night before you plan to stay up late. If you’re a night owl or is a nocturnal being you don’t need any preparation because you’re likely to be more energized while the rest of the world sleeps.
- Establish a goal and a plan of action.
For someone who is a newbie in pulling an all-nighter will find this task really hard and the body will find it hard to adjust as well. So, if this is a one-time thing, make sure that this time you will not procrastinate. Make it clear to yourself that whatever it is that you need to finish tonight, has to be done tonight.
Establish an action plan for the night and the list of things that you need to settle just so you know your progress and what still needs to be done.
- The caffeine power nap.
It’s a no-brainer that caffeine boosts attentiveness and you won’t mind drinking more cups of coffee till the sun knocks on your window, but remember this, too much consumption may just backfire and you won’t like that. Instead, use the power of caffeine wisely by taking a power nap before starting your all-nighter.
How To Master The Caffeine Nap:
- Take a short nap before your regular sleeping time.
- Drink a cup of your favorite Jo before you nap.
- Dim all the room lights and keep a cool atmosphere, but do this during nap time only.
- Set your alarm for 15 to 30 minutes only – NO EXTENSIONS!
- Wake up and start moving around to awake your senses too, then proceed to your to-do list and get started.
The truth is, it is much better to drink caffeine when you feel tired before starting an all-nighter. This will make you take coffee naps before your bedtime, halfway through the night, and lastly, in the morning. It means that you’ll be able to balance your caffeine naps.
A healthy adult body can consume around 400 mg of coffee per day. Since you are an adult and you know how sensitive your body is to coffee, you are responsible for limiting yourself to drink more than what your body can handle. Because for some, excessive intake can lead to anxiety and palpitation.
An Idea of what a 400 mg of COFFEE is:
- 5 shots of espresso
- 8 to 12 cans of a 12oz soda
- 16 to 32 ounces of coffee
- Ditch unnecessary distractions.
When you’re an all-nighter, bear in mind that your time is LIMITED and truly VALUABLE, therefore, sneaking some YouTube and social media threads will just take most of your precious time. Practice self-control and focus if you wanted your all-nighter experience to be all worth it.
- Keep a bright and warm room.
Your body temperature automatically drops, especially if it feels like you are close to your bedtime. Therefore, a dim and cool room ambiance will just make you more drowsy.
But since you are staying up all night, set aside all your bedtime regimen. Start by keeping your room warm. Turn all your lights on and your laptop or computer screen at full brightness and a bright lamp by your workstation. This will keep you alert and your senses active.
- Be smart in snacking.
If you need to stay awake, munch in small, but frequent snacks rather than eating a full meal. This will keep your metabolism working and your blood sugar controlled. Avoid eating carbs like bread or rice because they can influence drowsiness into your system.
It’s best to opt for an all-nighter protein-rich goodies such as tuna, cheese, chicken, nuts, and protein shakes. Fresh fruits and veggies are also a great option.
- Pump up some energizing tunes.
Listen to upbeat music that has a fast tempo and hype lyrics. Although, classical music is good for study and is a memory booster, however, it can also invite you to doze off and will just put your all-nighter plan to waste. Fast and happy music are still the best choice for an all-nighter playlist.
So if you badly need to stay up, try these tips to pull off a successful – one time – night owl lifestyle. But for those dealing with sleeping disorders and needs to stay up, check with the insomnia clinics Rockville and seek professional and medical advice regarding your condition.
Pulling an all nighter should be treated like any other physical endeavor with much preparation and the right supplies. If you haven’t pulled an all-nighter in your college career, you will at some point before graduation. Especially around midterms and final exams, you’ll find there really aren’t enough hours in the day to study all the potential material that may or may not be covered on an exam. So we’ve listed some helpful tips to follow when having to embark on your very first all nighter session. Fear not, there is some sleep involved!
Have Plenty Of Protein Snacks
Your body needs something to burn to get through the night, so it’s a good idea to get some good snacks and have a good meal prior. What you eat does affect you, trade the carbs like potato chips or pizza for a protein drink or some beef jerky. Other great snacks are apples, peaches, and bananas. Fresh fruit is packed full of complex carbs and natural sugars.
Anything high in fats like pasta or fried chicken will not aid with staying awake. Another tidbit is instead of eating one big meal while studying opt to snack a little throughout the night so you’re less likely to crash.
Caffeine is an obvious staple to pull an all-nighter through the night. Avoid coffee until you really need it so you are not crashing mid-study session. Energy drinks are also a great alternative if you are not a coffee drinker but use the same precaution and only drink it when you feel sleep calling for you.
Avoid coffee overloaded by balancing with cups of water. Too much coffee and you might get jittery and your focus will decrease. When you’re hydrated you can concrete so make sure to get in some water too.
Take Some Cat Naps
At different intervals throughout the night, it might be beneficial to take a cat-nap for 20 mins or less. A short nap can help improve mood, alertness, and performance. I wouldn’t recommend taking more than 2 naps during one all-nighter it might do more harm than good.
Have A Study Playlist
A good playlist is helpful, especially in the wee hours in the morning, to not only keep you awake but to keep your mind sharp and in the zone. You can’t just play any old type of music, some great instrumental music like Classical is a great choice to have on your study playlist. Explosions in the sky is a popular instrumental rock band that can be another great alternative if one finds classical music to dull.
Study With A Friend
Having a study buddy is a good way to have someone to keep you accountable while studying for exams. Sharing your goals of what you like to accomplish within a certain time will help you stay on track. Keep it to a minimum of one or two friends, anything more will be a party, and that’s not the point of an all nighter. If you know you have a friend who is on the chatty side or goofs off all the time maybe think twice before inviting them to study with you.
Find A Good Place To Work
Studying in your bedroom is a big no-no when trying to pull an all nighter. Unless you have the super- human ability to study in a place for hours when a warm and cozy bed is nearby; not likely. So don’t set yourself for failure by studying in a place where the majority of your sleeping takes place. On-campus, the library is the perfect designated study place for an all nighter. Usually, during midterms and finals, the library will stay open late to accommodate students who will be up working and studying through the night.
11 Secret Things Nobody Tells You Before Going to College
Know What To Study
Set a goal for yourself of what you want to accomplish during an all nighter. If you are working on a project have all materials with you before sitting down to complete it. If studying a bunch of chapters, creating flashcards and going through the set a certain amount of time is wise. Whatever the plan, make sure you have one. Set a timer to periodically check in with yourself and see if you are accomplishing the task at hand. You may find you have to spend more time on certain sections than others. So having a timer is a good way to stay on track and adjust if needed.
Eliminate Social Media Use
Don’t allow for distractions! Easier said than done, of course, but to pull off a successful all-nighter you can’t allow your self to be easily distracted by your phone. Turn off your phone unless you absolutely need it, then just turn off the wifi connection. Taking a small break to surf the web or scroll on Instagram and Facebook will easily pull you away from the task at hand. Do yourself a favor and eliminate as many distractions as you can. You’ll be grateful you did in the morning.
Get Some Good Rest Before The Exam
Finals, due dates, exams, and other deadlines in college may convince us to sacrifice some sleep. Begin your study session by being well-rested before pulling an all-nighter. The more sleep you get before the less likely you are to cause serious disruption to your sleep cycle. It’s equally important to rest up before your exam. Don’t be that person who nods off in the middle of the exam and wakes up to see the class has been dismissed and you’ve only written your name. More common in movies, but you get the pictures. You want to be rested and alert when it comes to taking that test.
Tackling all nighters might seem like a daunting task but setting yourself up prior will make all the difference. Whether to study for an exam or finishing up a project pulling an all nighter will happen at some point in your collegiate career. If you have any other tips or suggestions for what helped you pull to get through an all-nighter please leave us your thoughts below in the comment section.
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