We’ve all pulled an all-nighter at least once in our lives. It’s a rite of passage, a trial, and definitely one hell of an experience. But it can also wreak havoc on our metabolism, cause difficulties with concentration and brain function, and make us feel really off. Here’s how to effectively stay up all night without feeling like a total mess the next day.
How to Prep
1. Have a (semi) decent reason
Getting sleep is actually fun. Pulling an all-nighter is (usually) not. And like I said, sleep is super essential to your health. So if you’re going to skip for the night, make sure it is going to be worth it.
#SpoonTip: Tentative about no sleep, but still have a ton of work? Going to bed early and waking up early gives you the time to work without as much sleep deprivation.
2. Fill your sleep bank
Plan ahead. If you know you’re going to pull an all-nighter, make sure you’re doing so on a full “sleep bank.” In other words, if you’ve only had five hours of sleep the night before, you’re already pretty sleep deprived, so continuing that trend is only going to make the all-nighter more difficult.
Try to have a good night’s sleep the night before, and if you have time that day, take a 2-3 hour afternoon nap beforehand. This will ensure that your sleep bank is as full as possible.
3. Gather the necessary provisions
Peppermint candy and gum
Lots of ice cold water
While caffeine is great for a boost of energy, it can make you jittery and keyed up at first, and then even more lethargic and dehydrated when you crash. A better choice for your all-nighter is ice cold water, which still shocks your system but leaves you refreshed and hydrated. Fill your Brita, friends!
It’s ok to have some caffeine, just make sure your consumption is spread out throughout your all-nighter. I like to eat caffeinated chocolate instead of drinking coffee or energy drinks since I can more easily track how much caffeine I’m consuming.
#SpoonTip: Can’t resist your nightly Starbucks? Here’s how much caffeine is in your favorite drink.
Light snacks and mini-meals
A common impulse when we’re tired is to wolf down as much sugar and carbs as we can. Not only is junk food highly addictive, it only gives us a quick burst of energy, meaning we’re guaranteed to crash at some point. Make sure to stock your dorm room or library cubicle with foods that are high in protein and complex carbs, like the banana yogurt bites pictured above.
3. Set up the right environment
If there’s a window nearby, leave it open. Studies have shown that colder temperatures stimulate brain function, so try to keep the room on the colder side. Some people also suggest ice cubes on the eyes as a quick way to wake up the mind.
Work in a space with bright lights. If your roommate needs to sleep, find another room. Working with the lights off can make you more sleepy, and looking at bright screens in the dark can strain your eyes and exacerbate symptoms of exhaustion.
1. Do cognitive tasks first
As you get more tired, it will be more difficult for you to concentrate and perform brainpower-heavy tasks. Get your most difficult assignments out of the way first, and then move on to your more mindless tasks. Still struggling? Eat one of these foods for an extra boost.
Continue to drink ice water frequently throughout the night. If you need caffeine, I would recommend a small sip (or a small piece of chocolate) every 30-60 minutes. This will prevent (or at least prolong) the inevitable caffeine crash.
Every 2-3 hours, eat a light snack or meal. Like I said earlier, don’t go into carb overload – this will just make your body feel heavy and tired.
3. Take a break
It’s important to take frequent breaks every 1-2 hours. This will ensure your body doesn’t fall into a slump. Go on a walk, prepare a snack, or do a quick cardio burst or dance party (I love late night Beyonce, just ask my roommate). THIS BREAK SHOULD NOT EXCEED 20 MINUTES. Trust me. What’s worse than the work slump? The break slump.
#SpoonTip: While a change of scenery can be good, don’t use it as an excuse to relocate to your bed. You’re going to be way less productive and more tempted to sleep.
4. If you start to doze off…
Pinch yourself. I’m serious. Do what you can to jolt yourself awake. Want something slightly less painful? CARDIO BREAK! This will rev up your heart rate and your brain.
If you feel the urge to yawn, resist it and try to keep your breathing as normal as possible. We commonly associate yawning with being tired, so excessive yawning can actually trick your brain into thinking that it’s more tired than it actually is. When you feel a yawn coming, try to laugh instead. Studies have shown that this increases energy and endorphins.
5. Refill your sleep bank
*Round of applause* You’ve made it out alive. Now relax, drink some coffee, and remember to get a really good night’s sleep to catch up from your ~wild~ night.