Reader Approved

How to Pull an All Nighter

There are many legitimate reasons to pull an all nighter on occasion. Perhaps you've got to cram before an important test or finish off an essay, or you just want to have a movie marathon. You might even be off your typical sleeping schedule due to travel abroad, so pulling an all nighter can help you get back on schedule. Whatever the reason, pulling an all-nighter doesn't come naturally to all people and it takes some practice to do it effectively and safely.

Part One of Three:
Staying Awake and Alert

  1. 1
    Keep moving. Do a simple movement, like tapping your feet and stretching. If it becomes a habit, it might just save you from falling asleep during those final dire moments and it can keep you awake without being distracting.[1]
  2. 2
    Take breaks. Avoid a decreasing sense of energy and motivation by setting a constant pace for yourself: For example, try 40 to 55 minutes of work, and taking a 5 to 20 minute break, or perhaps a quick walk around outside in a safe and well lit area.[2]
  3. 3
    Watch a horror film. Take a short break to watch a part of a scary movie if you think it will help your productivity. Scary movies can keep one alert, but don't watch if it becomes a distraction; it's enough to watch a little during a 5-20 minute break.[3]
  4. 4
    Avoid caffeine if possible. Coffee or tea may seem like an ideal solution at the time, but you may get a temporary buzz then crash badly the following day (perhaps halfway through your test or meeting). Try staying hydrated with water instead.[4]
    • Drink two glasses of ice-cold water every 30 minutes. Not only will the cold water help to keep you awake, but you'll need to urinate often, which will keep you alert.
    • Non-caffeinated herbal tea will also naturally keep you awake due to tea's extensive amount of herbs.
  5. 5
    Eat protein-rich foods to stay energized. Foods like sandwiches, cheese, and other dairy products can allow you to feel more alert. Sugary foods may make you feel awake for a little while, but will eventually make you crash and feel drowsy. Apples keep your blood sugar stable so you're able to stay awake longer. Any fruit or healthy food is better than eating sugary foods.[5]
    • Avoid eating a heavy meal the evening of the all-nighter. This will leave you feeling lethargic and sleepy. Eat a light, healthy meal, such as a stir-fry.
    • Avoid alcohol, as this depressant will make you sleepy.
  6. 6
    Play hardcore metal music. You may not enjoy it, but harsh and a arrhythmic music will keep your mind alert. Try to stick to instrumental music, which is less distracting. This will keep you from being lulled to sleep.
    • If others are sleeping around you, clearly you'll need to keep the level of the music low. Use earphones if necessary.
  7. 7
    Squeeze and massage your ears. There are acupressure points on your ears, and when stimulated, send electrical signals into your brain. Placing pressure on the tip of your ear can relieve pressure in your back and shoulders. Pinching the upper-middle part of the ear can help to relieve pain in your joints. After doing this, you'll feel buzzed and more awake.[6]

Part Two of Three:
Staying Optimistic and Planning Ahead

  1. 1
    Make sure that pulling an all nighter is unavoidable. You should not stay up all night just because you need to study; your sleep is the time when memories are properly processed. Denying yourself sleep can make your brain less effective at retaining information. In most cases, it is better to get at least a little bit of rest during the night rather than none at all.[7]
    • To remain healthy, never stay awake for two whole nights in a row. Pull an all nighter as infrequently as possible.
  2. 2
    Think positively. Thoughts such as: "I am almost done," "This is actually not too hard," "I will get to see the sunrise," "I will get a good grade," or other affirmations can help. Negativity will only slow your productivity, so assure yourself that you will be rewarded for your time and effort.[8]
  3. 3
    Reward yourself for each accomplishment. You can decide to reward yourself if you make it to certain checkpoints throughout the night. For instance, if you stay awake to finish an assignment, you can reward yourself with chocolate or a brief Netflix break. These small motivators can guide you toward completing your overall goals for the night.
  4. 4
    Try to take a short afternoon nap. This will allow you to have more energy during the night. If at all possible, make this a two to three hour nap and limit any potential distractions during this time. Be sure to take out your contacts if you wear them, since leaving them in could harm your eyes and prevent proper sleep.[9]
    • Set a timer if you're going to nap. Don't nap for more than 20 minutes during the all-nighter itself, and stay half-awake. Be aware that napping during the night could lead to you to staying asleep, so it is best avoided. The afternoon nap should suffice to see you through.

Part Three of Three:
Improving Your Workspace and Limiting Distractions

  1. 1
    Turn off all of your devices. Distance yourself from your cell phone, the TV, and other electronics. Do not surf the Internet.[10]
    • Download an application that blocks distracting websites, such as SelfControl. You can also turn off your Wifi connection if the Internet is an overall distraction to you. Do not be tempted to turn it back on until you have completed your work.[11]
    • Set your cell phone to Airplane mode so that any incoming messages will be received when you are ready for them.
  2. 2
    Work with the windows open. Cold air will help to keep you awake, while warm air knocks you out. Think of the nights you can't sleep because of being cold compared to the nights when the cozy warmth of a room causes you to nod off. If you find the cold air is effective in keeping you awake, you can even go to the bathroom and splash your face with cold water.
    • Not everyone improves their alertness in cold air and feels sleepy in warm air. For some people, it works the other way around. Obviously, choose whatever works for you best.
  3. 3
    Avoid working in comfortable places. Do not set up a workspace on your bed, on a couch, or on the floor. If you work in any other place than a cold, hard table and chair, you will feel very tempted to sleep and the more comfortable the location, the worse you'll feel. If possible, work somewhere far away from your sleeping area or bed, so that it's an effort to go back and sleep. Try to be around some other people, too, so that you do not feel comfortable sleeping in your chair.
  4. 4
    Maintain an upright posture. Careful of slumping! When you're tired, slumping your body becomes a natural habit. However, make yourself sit up straight. It increases your state of alertness and helps you to feel better.
    • Try sitting in different places around the room.
    • Don't lay in bed with your eyes closed. You will fall asleep, falling into a crazed dream state in which you convince yourself that the work has been done already.
  5. 5
    Acknowledge your limits. If you can't even remember what you just read or you're nodding off involuntarily, you need sleep. Sometimes it is better to get three or four hours of sleep and cram what you can in the morning, rather than be in a complete daze the next day.[12]

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • How much sleep do I need per day?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It depends on your age. Recommended sleep for adults is somewhere between 7 to 8 hours a night.
    Thanks! 11 2
  • Can I stay awake just for fun?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, you can stay awake just for fun!
    Thanks! 11 2
  • Can I just stay awake because I want to?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, of course.
    Thanks! 11 2
  • Why should I take an afternoon nap?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Taking an afternoon nap can help you feel rested, which can make it easier to stay awake throughout the night.
    Thanks! 4 0
  • Will coffee help to keep me up all night?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • The caffiene will give you energy for a short period of time, but it will cause you to 'crash' afterward, so it isn't helpful to keep you up all night.
    Thanks! 8 2
  • Can I drink Coke, tea, or Mountain Dew?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Tea is recommended. Coke & Mountain Dew will boost you up for 20 minutes and then make you 'crash' energy-wise.
    Thanks! 9 3
  • What should I do if I fall asleep?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • If you fall asleep, you just have to accept it. You can try staying up all night another time.
    Thanks! 6 2
  • Why shouldn't I eat candy or drink soda? Sugar makes you hyper and will help you stay awake, right?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It makes you hyper, for a short period. Then it will always come crashing down. Some candy is okay, as long as you combine it with food that 'lasts' longer, like apples.
    Thanks! 7 3
  • How do I know when to sleep?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Your body will tell you when it's time for you to sleep by making you drowsy, causing your eyelids to feel heavy, etc.
    Thanks! 3 1
  • What if I pull an all nighter and then have a strenuous practice the next day?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • You could sleep in on the day you do the all nighter, or you can take an afternoon nap. Otherwise, I suggest you try to pull an all nighter another night.
    Thanks! 1 0
Show more answers
  • If your in a hostel where you get less space and more time for study then how are you gong to take the night for the study when you know that someone is going to disturb you the next minute afterwards
Ask a Question
200 characters left
Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered.

About This Article

202 votes - 81%
Co-authors: 254
Views: 3,515,079

Reader Success Stories

  • AG

    Ava Gregory

    Apr 26

    "I love your website, you're not like any other website which are like 'no you shouldn't do that.' Your website is helpful and good!"..." more
  • CG

    Chloe Gurdon

    Mar 21

    "I love this site, it helps me so much with school, packing, and so much more. I get so many ideas, and my life is getting organized now. These articles gave me inspiration to clean out and organize my desktop on my laptop. "..." more
    Rated this article:
  • A


    Mar 18

    "Great website, I use it for everything and highly recommend it. Love its primary goal of helping people by being a nonprofit organization."..." more
  • RM

    Ricardo Mariano Jr.

    Jan 9

    "It's good and so practical."
    Rated this article:
  • JD

    Jayde Davis

    Jun 12, 2017

    "The thing that helps me is how to sleep through the night. I'm always trying to sleep, but I keep waking up and I'm so sleepy in the morning."..." more
  • BH

    Briony Herring

    Jun 30, 2017

    "This helped me by telling me lots of different things and that have now helped and my friend and me out on our all-nighter!"..." more
    Rated this article:
  • RB

    Rose Backer

    Jul 28, 2017

    "I know this article is very, very helpful because if you guys are saying it was, then it is. Thank you so much!!"
  • H


    Aug 9, 2017

    "I'm staying up all night because I want to and I'll be sure to try that water thing. "
    Rated this article:
  • A


    Jan 25, 2017

    "This article absolutely helped me! It was perfect and I was able to stay up. Thanks!"
  • MQ

    Mackenzey Quartucci

    Jul 8, 2017

    "This was a very useful article, you guys are such a help! Thanks so much!"
    Rated this article:
  • CB

    Cora Bolen

    Mar 8, 2016

    "This really helped me get my last minute work done for school."
  • L


    Mar 20, 2016

    "It was so helpful. Thanks a lot for those who created this."
  • A


    Nov 19, 2017

    "I love wikiHow so much I honestly use it for everything!"
    Rated this article:
  • LD

    Lexi Davidson

    Jul 13, 2017

    "It helped my friend and me stay up for many reasons."
    Rated this article:
  • JM

    John Mikison

    Dec 14, 2016

    "The horror movie suggestion works like a charm."
  • LD

    Livia Del

    Jul 19, 2017

    "Simple, but helpful! Nice tips and tricks too!"
  • TB

    Toni Bullimore

    Feb 19, 2017

    "I liked that it was separated into sections."
  • SS

    Srinidhi Sritharan

    Oct 13, 2016

    "I love the way you people explain things."
  • SR

    Scarlett Rowell

    Apr 4, 2016

    "This was awesome! It helped a lot."
  • A


    Nov 20, 2017

    "It helped me to stay focused."
    Rated this article:
  • CB

    Caitlyn Brown

    Mar 8, 2016

    "Tips were very helpful."
  • A


    May 18, 2016

    "Very useful. "
Share your story

Did this article help you?