All-nighter 101: a guide to making your last resort count

We get it. Maybe your extracurriculars got the better of you. Or maybe you are the unfortunate victim of the dreaded three midterms in one week, in which case we’re really, really sorry. Or maybe you really did have time to write that paper, but you were too sucked into binge watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix to care about anything else three days ago. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. But now that you’re facing the terrifying task of completing an all-nighter, you have a difficult task ahead of you: How do you get everything done and stay awake long enough to do it? When you only have one night to complete your work, there are a few steps you can take to make sure everything gets done.

1. Get uncomfortable.

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That favorite comfy chair of yours in your living room or study lounge? Nope. Your precious reading pillow on your bed? Evil. If you want to stay up, you need to put yourself in an environment that’ll make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Bright light is your friend, so try libraries and common areas if you can, instead of your dim desk lamp. After all, you can’t do an all-nighter if you’re not awake for it.

2. Hydrate … but, like, actually hydrate.

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We know your reliance on caffeine at 3 a.m. is inevitable, but don’t forget to drink water, too. Hydrating properly gives you more energy than you realize and helps you avoid the headaches and listlessness that come with dehydration, both of which are disasters when efficiency is key.

3. Set yourself a schedule and pretend like it’s the only thing in the world you know to be true.

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Don’t forget you’re in a time crunch here. Set yourself a schedule. Finish chapter one by 12:30 a.m., write the introductory paragraph to your psychology paper by 1 a.m., take a 15-minute stretch break, finish half of the problem set by 2:30 a.m. … Well, you get the idea. You don’t have time for “I’ll get to it later” anymore. If you fall behind your schedule, no sweat. Just try to leave yourself an extra hour to tie up all the loose ends.

4. Napping is the devil.

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Don’t lie. When you say you’re just going to snooze for five minutes, you know it won’t be just five minutes. And you know you’re going to wake up four hours later panicked and wondering why you ever closed your eyes to begin with. Even setting yourself an alarm for a power nap risks waking up disoriented or turning off the alarm in a half-awake stupor. If you really can’t stay awake, go caffeinate, splash some water on your face or take a 15-minute exercise break to get your adrenaline going. Napping seems like a good way to go at first, but it’s a dangerous path to go down.

5. Make your own motivation.

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If you have someone else sharing in your all-nighter misery with you, then it’s easy for you to keep each other in check. But more often than not, all-nighters are a pretty lonely endeavor. If you don’t give yourself anything to look forward to, you’ll go crazy. If you reward yourself at specific intervals with candy or short, timed breaks, it can keep you energized and more motivated. You probably didn’t want to be studying at 5 a.m. after all, so you might as well make it a little more enjoyable for yourself.

Image Sources: Deepak Adhikari,  Larissa Punzalan, Ray ChiangPatrick Ng, insta-rachelJelene Morris under Creative Commons

Contact Kelsi Krandel at [email protected]