How to Pull an All-Nighter

Your essay is due tomorrow. And aside from jotting some notes on a scrap of paper, you haven’t really started working on it yet. Or maybe you’re giving a presentation at work tomorrow, and you still have hours of preparation ahead of you.

Yep, it’s time to pull an all-nighter.

All-nighters are never fun, especially if you’re used to going to bed at a reasonable hour. But there are things you can do to make an all-nighter a little less painful.

No Caffeine!

An all-nighter might seem like the perfect time to fire up the coffee maker. But while drinking a cup of coffee will give you a temporary energy boost, sooner or later you’re going to crash. If you don’t crash during the all-nighter, it’ll probably happen tomorrow, while you’re giving your presentation or taking that test.

When your energy is starting to flag, a nice, tall glass of ice water will reenergize you. If you want a little variety, you can add sports drinks to the mix. Just make sure your sports drink doesn’t contain caffeine.

Take a Nap

Naps aren’t just for kindergarteners anymore. Many of the most famous and successful people in history believed naps were the secret to their success.

The trick is not to nap for too long. If you sleep for more than 20 minutes, you could wake up feeling more tired and groggy than you did before you took the nap.

Short, 10 minute power naps are the way to go. Set you alarm clock for 15 minutes, then lie down and try to relax. You’ll probably fall asleep in the first 5 minutes, and get at least 10 minutes of nap time. When you wake up, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go.

Choose the Right Snacks

Like caffeinated coffee, sugary snacks can give you a temporary energy boost. But you will eventually crash from that sugar high.

When choosing snacks for your all-nighter, it’s all about the proteins and complex carbohydrates. If you want something sweet, grab an apple, or spread some peanut butter on whole grain bread. Dried fruit is another good, sweet snack option.

If you want something savory, try whole grain crackers topped with slices of your favorite cheese. A small handful of nuts—like pecans, and cashews—can also give you an energy boost.

But be careful when choosing snacks. Some foods can actually make your feel tired and sleepy. As much you as you love turkey sandwiches, eating one during your all-nighter probably isn’t a good idea.

Take Breaks

You might think working straight through the night will help you get done faster. But if you don’t take breaks, you’ll start to feel run down and sluggish. Not only will this make the work go more slowly, the work itself will be subpar.

So every half hour or so, you should stop for a 5 or 10 minute break. And, if you’ve been working for two or three hours, you can break for 15 to 30 minutes.

What should you do during the break? Do some stretches. Listen to energizing, heart-pounding music. Step outside and breathe in the chilly night air. Or take that power nap.

All-nighters aren’t easy. But follow these tips and you’ll make it through the night. And get that important project done on time.

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