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 AlertEdit
1Keep 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.
2Take 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.
3Watch 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.
4Avoid 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.
- 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.
5Eat 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.
- 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.
6Play 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.
7Squeeze 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.Advertisement
Part Two of Three:
Staying Optimistic and Planning AheadEdit
1Make 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.
- To remain healthy, never stay awake for two whole nights in a row. Pull an all nighter as infrequently as possible.
2Think 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.
3Reward 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.
4Try 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.
- 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 DistractionsEdit
1Turn off all of your devices. Distance yourself from your cell phone, the TV, and other electronics. Do not surf the Internet.
- 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.
- Set your cell phone to Airplane mode so that any incoming messages will be received when you are ready for them.
2Work 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.
3Avoid 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.
4Maintain 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.
5Acknowledge 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.Advertisement
You're helping people by reading wikiHow
wikiHow's mission is to help people learn, and we really hope this article helped you. Now you are helping others, just by visiting wikiHow.
World Possible is a nonprofit organization focused on connecting offline learners to the world's knowledge. They work to ensure that anyone can access the best educational resources from the web anytime, anywhere, even if they do not have an internet connection.
Click below to let us know you read this article, and wikiHow will donate to World Possible on your behalf. Thanks for helping us achieve our mission of helping people learn how to do anything.
About This Article
Reader Success Stories
A"I love wikiHow so much I honestly use it for everything!"
A"It helped me to stay focused."
RM"It's good and so practical."