Every veteran of midterms and finals know that the all-nighter is sometimes a necessary evil. Sacrificing one night of sleep allows you to reap many benefits: the most peaceful hours of the library, the lack of distractions from your roommates, the only consecutive hours of your day during which you have no other obligations, and a newfound appreciation for the mid-day nap. All-nighters, however, are not for the faint of heart. If you want to survive this college student rite of passage, you’ve got to be equipped.
A Preventative Nap
Considering sleep is the first thing on the list of things you need in order to stay up all night, it might seem like we’re off to a bad start. However, studies have shown that a 1.5 hour nap between 1-3 PM or 1-3 AM helps to boost creativity, memory, mood, alertness, and brain performance. You’ll be less likely to suffer the effects of sleep deprivation and feel more focused on what you need to do.
As long as you’re not the type to abuse caffeine – as in, if you don’t drink more than a cup or two daily – caffeine is going to be your secret weapon. Here’s the trick: lay off the coffee for 24-48 hours before you intend to pull an all-nighter, then drink a cup as you start to study that night. This helps to work around your body’s caffeine tolerance and give you an extra boost. There is also evidence that proves if you mix butter or coconut oil into your coffee, it helps the buzz to last longer (it sounds gross, but don’t knock it ’til you try it!) Whether you’re sipping coffee or energy drinks all night, don’t chug. Sipping small amounts for prolonged periods will help to prevent a crash.
A Light, Healthy Dinner
Aside from caffeine, another thing that can cause a crash is too many carbs. It’s important to eat a dinner so that you don’t feel too full, but pass on the potatoes and bread for foods like avocadoes, leafy greens, and lean proteins. Carbs will spike your blood sugar, causing a crash shortly after, while proteins and fats will keep you full and energized so you can stay focused.
If you do start to get tired or just burnt-out from studying, you more prone to getting frustrated. Prioritize and plan out what you need to do and make it as easy for yourself as possible. If you’re writing an essay, try to go into your all-nighter with at least a rough outline and an annotated bibliography. If you’re studying, decide what material to cover and when. Not only will you be sure to have enough time to get everything done, you can feel a sense of accomplishment once you move onto the next part of your schedule.
Figure out what sounds help you to stay the most focused. Some people like to listen to some form of white noise, like RainyMood – the sounds of a rainstorm. Others like to listen to classical music. Maybe you need a playlist with something a little bit more upbeat to keep you energized. To remain focused, be sure that you’re listening to something that won’t distract you. Now isn’t the time to check out a new album – instead, listen to something instrumental or songs that you’ve heard a million times so that you can hear them without really “listening.”