How to Survive All-Nighters
My random but fun guide to making it through those ‘studious’ nights and still make it to class the next morning.
By Diana Odero, Chapman University
All nighters were the bane of my existence in college, especially during my sophomore and senior year. So clearly in Freshman year and Junior year I was doing something right. Most of us pull all nighters when finals or midterms are around the corner or actually taking place, and some of us pull all nighters because in real sense there just really aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes. My friends and I were all in extremely different majors but somehow we would always end up experiencing all nighters together from time to time during the semester. So we soon found some full proof ways to surviving these nights whether we were suffering together or working the graveyard shift solo.
1. Stock up on Food
I cannot emphasize this enough!! It’s 3am, you had your dinner around 6/7pm.. you are definitely starving at this point. If you went to school like where I went to school where most places close at 10pm then you know how frustrating an all nighter can be on an empty stomach. But then again, most colleges, like Chapman have little canteen type shops within the dorms that sell various food, snacks and other miscellaneous items and stay open till around 2am if not later. I hated walking out late at night because so I would go to the canteen/store after dinner, grab some snacks because I know myself, if I stay up past midnight, hunger will be knocking down my door by default. I’d store them for later and I especially stock up on sugar because random bursts of sugar rush give me the energy to do a lot more even though I know it’s not really one of the healthiest option.
But yes, always have food nearby because your brain needs energy to stay awake and keep working otherwise you’ll work yourself to an exhausted state and will definitely not make it to class the next day.
2. Work in Intervals
Whether its a term paper or more than one paper that you are writing/researching on, or an exam you are fervently doing some last minute studying on, you can’t power through the entire night non stop. No one can. Breaks are necessary to keep your mind fresh, balanced and focused. Whatever you do during these short breaks though, don’t include any form of shut eye. Taking a nap and then waking up minutes later to get back to your work will actually make you work slower and you may end up just blacking out in the end… Unless you have some really powerful coffee. Once you take a short nap, at an hour that your body knows as sleeping time, your mind automatically switches to that mind set due to the time of the ‘nap’ and waking up proves to be a struggle during that time as opposed to when you are waking up after a short afternoon nap.Long story short, take breaks from your work if you are pulling an all nighter, but don’t let yourself take a nap, or that will basically be the end of your night.
3. Watch Funny Youtube Videos
As the saying goes, ‘All work and no play…’ You need to have some light hearted moments to ease the stress you may be under while staying up all night working. And youtube was always our go to thing for my friends and I. My friend, Snook had a knack of finding the strangest, yet funniest videos ever that would have us cracking up for practically an hour. Laughter brings life into a room and raises endorphin levels thus increasing energy and viola, you have the strength to clock more hours, write more pages, study more notes. Below is a parody video that soon became our all nighter must see and dance to video, I wish I had a video of us doing this minnie mouse dance!!
4. Give Yourself A Deadline
This is one way to ensure you complete all your assignments or complete that chapter you have been trying to master for so long. Give yourself little deadlines for each of your assignments and if you have your friends with you, they can hold you accountable and viceversa and it turns out to be like some kind of race so makes the work a tad bit more fun and helps the time fly by, you won’t even notice 5am dawn on you.
People strive off of coffee, tea and all forms of caffeine to stay awake all night, I prefer to stay hydrated and alert for a longer time by just drinking water. As much as I love my sugar as expressed above, sugar highs only last for so long and once you crash, your body can really crash. That’s the downside of caffeine as well, so to keep yourself more alert have a water bottle on stand by for those last few hours before the sun rises. If you can’t take cold water and want something warm but will still do the job, have green tea. Green tea is basically just hot water and a whole load of antioxidants so its a win win for your mind and your body. Staying hydrated will not only curb any more hunger pangs you may feel at around dawn, it will also get you feeling alert and refreshed for the day ahead, sleep won’t be an agenda anymore and you’ll find yourself working without feeling that heavy fatigue you would normally feel in the morning after a long night of working or reading.
6. Have Several Playlists
Whoever invented music is sheer genius. Out of all the things on this list, my playlists on my iTunes and Spotify are the main things that keep me going during all nighters. If I’m working alone I just put the music on blast and power through the night and if I’m working together with friends, we all plug in our headphones and all you see are hands moving rapidly across keyboards until one of us calls for a break, then it’s back to food, youtube and recharging ourselves for the remaining hours ahead.
All nighters are really not as brutal as they sound. I’ve actually gone 4 days with no sleep whatsoever and that my friends, is the WORST thing I ever did to myself. Please don’t put yourself in that situation, I don’t know what was going on in my head at that time but I just couldn’t let myself even touch my bed if my projects were not done. But I digress, all nighters should last just the ONE night and not a continuous 72+ hours. Get through the next day and make sure you get rested on the night of the next day that way your body can recuperate. Sleep was made for a reason folks, but if you MUST stay up all night, then yes, follow my guidebook above and you’ll get through it with no problem whatsoever!