Since times immemorial, we have been listening to the advice of getting about 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. We have been told that it is a prerequisite to good health and efficiency in daily life. But in the modern day, our lives as students don’t just revolve around the courses that we take. Other things are just as important, if not more important, and they can help us stay grounded and sane during the madness of assignments and exams. These things include friendships, volunteerism, and time with family. But, these things don’t come easily—they require a lot of time. And, along with our coursework, these responsibilities can make it hard to get the ideal number of hours of sleep every night. So, as the term progresses and final papers and exams get closer, you might end up finding yourself with no choice but to pull an all-nighter or two. Sleep is important and regularly depriving yourself of it can cause many problems with learning, memory, and mood, but in desperate times you might have to pull of an all-nighter. So, in the rare instance when sleep becomes a luxury you cannot afford, there are a few ways you can pull an all-nighter in the least unhealthy and most productive way possible.
Here are some tips to stay awake all night.
But first, lemma takes a nap.
Pulling an all-nighter is stealing sleep from your future self. Make up for it by topping off your metaphorical tank before you get started. The more sleep you can get beforehand, the less you’ll hurt yourself later on. Researchers call it the “prophylactic nap.” Taking a nap of any kind boosts your memory, creativity, mood, alertness, and cognitive performance, and preventive naps have been found to be more effective at staving off the negative effects of sleep deprivation than multiple doses of caffeine.
Illuminate your room to keep yourself awake.
We need darkness to have the onset of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us sleepy. 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 kick your brain into high alert.
Group study. If possible, find a motivated group of friends to study with.
It is much easier to stay awake when you have to keep yourself accountable to each other. It also helps to reduce the monotony of studying in the night. Work at a proper desk with a chair as far away from your bed as possible. Sitting upright can help to increase your alertness and help you feel better.
Caffeine is not your holy grail.
Do not overdose on caffeine in order to stay awake. Often when you’re pulling an all-nighter, you need to concentrate. More than two cups of coffee, and you might get jittery and your focus will decrease. For most adults, up to 400mg of caffeine (about four cups of coffee), per day is safe. If you’re staying up all night, spread that out. You want to aim for 100 to 200mg of caffeine, or a cup or two. Have your coffee with a snack to allow a slower release of caffeine into your system. Also, try substituting coffee for herbal tea. It is a healthier option and helps you concentrate better. And if all else fails, water is your best friend. When you’re hydrated you can concentrate better and every part of your system just works better. Also, drinking water makes you want to urinate and thus keeps you awake because you have to get up and use the washroom.
Say no to carbs and yes to protein.
Your body needs something to burn to get through the night, particularly if you’re focused on a brain-intensive task like preparing for a test next morning, so it’s a good idea to grab some snacks or an extra meal. What you eat matters, though. Instead of focusing on carbs (potato chips, pizza, and most of the biggest late-night cramming staples), focus on protein consumption. Why? Carbs store energy for later and can even make you sleepier in the short term. Consuming high-carb foods releases high levels of a hormone called serotonin into the brain. Too much serotonin makes you lethargic. Translation? Stay away from high-carb meals before and while studying or you’ll spend your “all-nighter” asleep on top of your keyboard. Proteins are going to be much more helpful in keeping you going through the night. So, instead of a bag of Doritos and some cookies, reach for some beef jerky and a protein drink.
Indulge in mild exercise during your breaks.
Take short breaks every 45 minutes or so to walk around. What can also help is doing a few push-ups or jumping jacks, or something to get your blood flowing will help keep your brain on the right track. When your body is exerting physical energy, it signals to your brain that now is the time to be alert and focused, not to drift off to dreamland.
Go to sleep when you are done for the night.
Be honest with yourself when you hit the wall, and admit when no further studying is going to help. At this point, it would be far more productive to go to sleep and wake up earlier in the morning to study. Make it a goal to give yourself time at the end of the night for at least a couple hours of sleep. Set your alarm and have someone wake you up just to be sure. The rest will help you to focus better later in the day.