Your Ultimate Survival Guide to Pulling an Effective All Nighter

Student Life

April 21, 2021

With just a few weeks left in the second semester, final exams are fast-approaching. Of course, it's not the healthiest thing to do, but many of us will have to pull an all-nighter at least once in our life to get in the last bit of studying or finish up that term paper we've procrastinated on. In this article, I'm going to lay out the key steps to pulling an effective all-nighter including some tips that I have picked up from experience. But first,

What is an all-nighter?

To put it simply, an all-nighter is an activity that runs throughout the night till daybreak. Pulling an all-nighter means choosing to stay awake throughout the night to do stuff.

Working throughout the night is not the best thing to do as your brain is naturally programmed to sleep during night hours. However, it can be a very attractive option especially if you have a lot of work to do in a short period of time (especially school work). So without further ado, here are some tips, in no particular order, that can help you work effectively at night so that all those sleep deprivation doesn't go to waste!

1. Don't drink coffee!

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This has to be the first and probably the most important tip. Coffee is easily the first thing most people would reach for when they're trying to stay active and this is with good reason because it has tons of benefits. However, excessive consumption especially with an intention of staying awake past your bedtime can actually do you more harm than good.

Drinking coffee late at night can give you a temporary boost in energy and alertness, but it might backfire later in the day and make you crash. High intake of caffeine can also lead to serious problems such as high blood pressure, anxiety, digestive issues as well as insomnia.

You really don't need coffee to stay awake and if you have an addiction, here are some steps to help you get rid of it.

2. Take a nap beforehand

Sleeping in the afternoon or taking a "power" nap can be a lifesaver when it comes to pulling all-nighters. Unless you're a 'sleepaholic', sleeping during the day will naturally make you less tired at night. If you can, sleep about 2-3 during the day so that you'll be refreshed for your night duties.

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3. Drink warm water.

Of course, staying hydrated is very important and it's not only in the daytime. When grabbing a bottle of water, don't reach for something in the fridge, drink warm water instead.

Drinking cold water may help you stay alert for a short while, but it'll cause burnout sooner. This is because your body is going to use up some energy in order to heat the cold water up thereby causing tiredness. On the other hand, drinking water that is just at room temperature can help you stay awake for long whilst removing toxins from the body at the same time. You can also add some lemon or cucumber slices if you want a little flavor.

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4. Increase the temperature of your room

From experience, I can assure you that comfort is the enemy when it comes to staying awake. Science claims that cooler temperatures induces sleep faster than hot. Even without research, everyone can testify that sleep is sweeter when the weather is chilly, especially if it's raining and you are wrapped up in a comfy blanket.

Switch off the air conditioner and open the windows instead. If you have a room heater, put it at room temperature which is between 20 to 23°C (68 to 73ºF). Don't make it too hot though, you definitely don't want to be dripping sweat all over your study sheet!

5. Have a to-do list

You probably pulled an all-nighter for a reason and those reasons have to be achieved so that you don't feel like you've sacrificed your precious sleep for nothing. What better way to make your plans more achievable than having a to-do list?

To-do lists are very effective for productivity and time management. Having one helps you stay organized and focused which is essential if you want an effective work time throughout the night so be sure to make one.

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6. Stretch

Run around your room, jog at a spot, do some yoga poses and stretch to wake those muscles up. Exercising helps to alert your brain and muscles, which can help you be more active during the night.

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7. Reduce screen time during the day.

Your eyes are definitely one of the hardest things to keep awake at night and that's already going to be a struggle so don't overwork it during the day. It can be hard to stay away from your phone during the day because we do a lot of stuff with our phones and laptops, but try as much as possible to reduce the screen time during the day so that you'll have less tired eyes to work with when the night comes.

Reduce your phone's brightness to the minimum and set intervals or breaks for your gadgets. Also, try not to check your phone every five seconds while you're working at night (unless it's a crucial part of your study equipment).

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8. Avoid unnecessary distractions.

How can you concentrate on your paper if you keep getting up to search for something, or if your phone's screen keeps lighting up with a new message every minute? It's not surprising that you can set out tons of work to be done only to be distracted by the likes of Tiktok, YouTube and Netflix halfway into your study session, that's perfectly normal. However, that sort of distraction is not one you can afford if you really want to get stuff done.

The best way to avoid distractions is to stay organized. Arrange everything you'll need beforehand so that you won't have to get up every five seconds in search of a pencil or a new bag of chips. Also, turn off the TV, (..throw the remote away..(lol):-D) and put your phone, laptop, etc far from reach unless you need them while studying. If you're going to use your phone, freeze all social media apps so that you won't get distracted by notifications buzzing every now and then.

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9. Switch on the light.

Putting on the night will not only help you stay awake but also to see things clearly so that you don't strain your eyes while reading (or bump into stuff).

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10. Take short breaks.

I get that you want to get much work done, but remember you're not a machine so you need a break (even machines need breaks too!). Take 5-10 minute breaks in between work so that you don't burn yourself out.

Walk around for a bit, stretch a little, use the toilet, drink some water and maybe even grab a little snack while you're at it as this will help you feel refreshed and ready to continue after.

I hope these tips helped you. Comment down below your thoughts and other tips you might have as well. Have a wonderful all-nighter!

Ikwuegbu Ihuoma
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Writer since Dec, 2019 · 23 published articles

A very creative Nigerian Christian teenager who is passionate about content and digital creation. She loves music, playing the piano, chess, puzzles and any other thing that challenges her intellectually. She also loves learning, meeting new people and taking on challenges. Be sure to read her blog!