Besides Solo cups, lying on the quad and meal plans, there is another image that often comes to mind when we think of college — the oh-so-dreaded all-nighter.
Even those who were amazing at time management in high school will fall prey to one of these sleepless nights at some point. If are lucky enough, maybe you’ll learn your lesson after just one.
For the rest of us, especially those who are minoring in procrastination, all-nighters are a way of life in college.
Since I’ve had my fair share of all-nighters, I can definitely share what worked and what didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll learn from my mistakes!
1. Make caffeine your last resort
If you start hitting the pots of coffee too early, you’ll crash and burn early on in the night. Try to avoid caffeine until you are on the verge of falling asleep sitting up so that you’ll be able to work steadily throughout the night. When you do have your beverage of choice, make sure to eat something with it. Spreading out your drink over time also helps.
2. Motivate yourself
Obviously, your main goal here is to finish your paper or to cram as much as you can before your exam, but you may need to think of smaller rewards to help get you through the night. Try to think of ways that you can motivate yourself to keep going, such as letting yourself have a 10-minute Pinterest break if you write three pages of your essay or allowing yourself to have a cookie if you get through the first five chapters. Whatever it takes!
3. Avoid your bed
The farthest you can get away from your bed or the nearest couch, the better. You do not want to be tempted to sleep at all. Even if you think you can study in bed, it’s not going to work. You’ll wake up drooling all over your laptop the next morning without having accomplished anything productive. If you can study in the school library into the wee hours of the night, that would be the most ideal. If you feel better being at home, try sitting at the kitchen table or somewhere else that forces you to sit up straight. Whatever you do, do not let that bed tempt you!
4. Know your body
Some people can take 15-minute naps and wake up feeling amazing. I am not one of those people. If you are, great! That means you can take a nap to break up the sleeplessness of your all-nighter. I sleep much too deeply to be able to nap, so my rule is that I’m getting less than three hours of sleep, it’s not worth it — I will sleep through all of my alarms. Figure out how your body reacts to a lack of sleep and learn to adapt to your advantage.
5. Limit the distractions
This seems like a no-brainer, but you’ll be amazed how easy it is to get sucked into a “Real Housewives” marathon when you only had the TV on for background noise. Turn off the TV, put your cellphone on the other side of the room and get cracking! If you don’t need your computer for studying, then turn it off. You may even consider temporarily blocking Facebook on your computer if you’re extremely addicted.
6. Plan ahead
There’s no way around it — tomorrow is going to be awful. You’re going to basically be sleepwalking your way through the day. Give yourself a break by planning ahead of time. You know you’ll be tired, so leave a Red Bull or have the coffee ready for tomorrow, too. You’ll thank yourself later when you’ve successfully made it through the the day after your all-nighter.