We don’t like to do it, but some of us have to. The dreaded all-nighter. No matter how hard we work to stay ahead, that deadline just creeps up faster than we expect. I’d like to think that it only happens once a semester but 4am and I see each other more than I’d like to. So to pull an all-nighter and not keel over at your desk, here are some simple guidelines.
Don’t do it often.
You need sleep. By depriving yourself of so much sleep so often, you’re only going to throw your sleep schedule and your body out of whack. Make sure you don’t get behind on sleep.
Don’t stay up to study.
Have an 8am exam? Don’t stay up till 4am studying. You’re going to do more harm than good. A lack of sleep is not good for memory, attention or focus the following day. Even if you spent all night reading, you probably didn’t retain any of it. During your deep sleep, your brain stores everything you’ve learned. That’s when you retain your readings. Not four hours before with no sleep.
Eat proteins, not carbs.
Your body needs fuel to get through the night. We all know that eating after 8pm is bad but that’s if you go to bed before midnight. If you’re going to stay up, you need to grab a snack or even an extra meal. Don’t eat chips and cookies but eat yogurt, granola bars, beef jerky or a protein drink. They will keep your energy levels up.
Grab some caffeine.
While not the healthiest option, energy drinks actually do help you make it through the night even if you crash at the end of your energy trip. Use these as a last resort though. Avoid caffeine during the day if you know you’re going to pull an all-nighter so your body doesn’t have as much of a tolerance built up.
Do periodic workouts.
Exercise can help boost your brain’s ability to learn and retain information. It gets your blood flowing and kick starts your creativity. Don’t build up a sweat but do a few push-ups or jumping-jacks, anything to get your blood flowing. Physical activity signals the brain that it should be alert and focused.
When you’re done, regroup.
Now that you’ve met your deadline, you can relax but try to get your sleep schedule back on track. You can take a short nap, approximately 30 minutes, but don’t go to bed much earlier than you normally do. Try to go to bed around the same time.
We don’t like to go on dates with 4am but sometimes we have to. If you do it right, you’ll make it through without turning into a total zombie. Good luck on your night!