What to Do When: You Pull an All-Nighter


As much as I loathe adages, I’m going to start my post off with this ubiquitously collegiate one: Friends, school, sleep. Pick two.

It seems that more and more students are choosing the first two, substituting sleep for power naps throughout the day or pulling an all-nighter and just not sleeping at all.

So…how do you do it? How can someone go a full night hours without sleeping?


All-nighters are a sometimes thing, not an every week thing. Try to limit their use as much as possible; your body and mental health will be glad you did.

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1. Budget your time.

Yes, you will need to budget your time even if you are pulling an all-nighter.

Strive for a 50-minute work session with a 10-minute break and adjust as you see fit.

2. Move.

Don’t waste your 10-minute breaks on Facebook (unless it’s midterm season, are there really going to be a ton of people online for you to chat with?) Instead, get up!

Do some jumping jacks, push-ups, running in place…really anything to get your blood flowing and brain thinking.

3. Keep it cold.

Warm air will only make you sleepy. Blast the A/C, open a window, eat some ice cubes, whatever it takes. (But not all at once. I’m not saying so cold you risk hypothermia.)

4. Eat protein-rich foods.

Lentils are great, as well as cheese and other dairy products.

As for drink, avoid caffeine like the plague (I know, I was shocked too) and opt for some cold water. Not only will the cold keep you awake, but you’ll have to pee more often.

5. Work at a desk, not a couch, bed or any kind of comfy surface.

I have a friend who, when faced with an all-nighter, gives his roommate his blanket, pillow, and sheets making his bed devoid of any comfort and therefore great to study on.

It’s a Spartan method, but it works (or has worked so far).

6.Listen to music.

Just not the soothing kind (jazz, classical, Gregorian chants, etc.) Try for more heavy-metal, rock, or country-anything you wouldn’t fall asleep to.

And don’t rely on the noise from the TV to keep you awake; white noise, once you’ve heard enough of it, is actually pretty soothing.

7. Congratulate yourself.

After it’s all over, give yourself a pat on the back (or an extra-big coffee).

All- nighters are hard and you just completed one. Just promise me you (a) won’t choose to screw up your Circadian rhythm on a weekly basis and (b) will proofread your work in the morning!

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