The first thing you need to know about pulling an all-nighter is that you shouldn’t. Honestly, if you have any other options, don’t do it. An all-night cram session is never a substitute for a good study strategy. Whether you have had past success with this last minute method or not, it is always risky, both for your grades and your health. However, as a university student myself, I know there times when this technique, though frowned upon and often ineffective, is unavoidable. Midterms and exams tend to cluster and no matter how accommodating your professors may be, there just aren’t enough hours in the day (or week. Or semester for that matter). Fear not – I am not here to shame you for procrastinating or criticize your FOMO (fear of missing out)-induced overscheduling. I’m here to help you survive the night. Everyone has their own style, but these are some of the tips and tricks students swear by to stay awake.
- Caffeinate: If you are currently attending a post-secondary institution, this should come as no surprise. Caffeine is like oxygen to the academic. So if it works, why mess with a good thing? Coffee, soda, or chocolate – get it any way you like, but remember to pace yourself. Too much of this stimulant will start to wear away at your ability to concentrate.
Tip: Try tea. Its health benefits may be able to offset the bodily strain of a sleepless night.
- Drink: Water, of course. What were you thinking? Staying hydrated is essential to fighting off the detrimental “I’ll just close my eyes for a few seconds” urge. It is also said to increase alertness and improve your focus.
Tip: Protect the environment. Always use a reusable water bottle.
- Move: Do jumping jacks. Run on the spot or attempt some push-ups. A few exercises can be just the kick start you need after hours of minimal movement. Get your blood pumping and give yourself a much deserved mental break.
Tip: Keep it quiet. Your sleeping roommates will thank you.
- Keep it light: Sleep is your body’s biological response to the dark of night. The darker your workspace, the harder it will be to fight this impulse. The solution? Turn on the lights and keep them on. Brightening your room will trick your body, and thus you, into thinking you need to stay awake.
Tip: To maximize light output, remove the shades from your lamps if possible.
- Set an alarm: It’s time to face the facts. No matter what you do, you may still fall asleep, and that’s okay, as long as you get up in time to write your exam, hand in your essay or fulfill whatever other obligation got you into this bind in the first place. Setting at least one alarm for the next morning is not negotiable.
Tip: Set your alarm for an hour or so earlier than you need to be up. That way you still have a chance to finish what dosing off may have prevented you from doing the previous night.