Cue “Eye of the Tiger” and start feeling pumped: It’s 7 p.m. and you have a 20-page term paper ahead of you. Or a group project that’s due the next morning. Or a DIY gift that you totally meant to build weeks in advance.
Whatever your reason, welcome to the Land of the Unsleeping. I’ll be honest: it’s a far less exciting place to visit when you’re not partying the night away, but sometimes, it has to be done. Here are simple tried-and-true techniques so you can pull an all-nighter — and not look like a withered zombie that’s been hit by a minivan the next morning.
Step 1: Create Your Workspace
- Turn on all the lights in your room. Keep things bright so you’re less likely to just. Rest your head. For one. Second. And then. CRASH! Waking up all doe-eyed just in time for class isn’t a relief when only the first sentence of a 1,500-word paper has been written.
- Remove the distractions. Various companies offer Facebook blockers and other ways to cut you off from your favorite sites for a set amount of time. While you’re at it, put the cell phone on airplane mode — or turn it off completely. Don’t log into your e-mail, either. They’ll just delay your project further.
- Blast the fan & open the windows. It’s easy to feel cocooned in a warm room and drift to sleep with your head nestled somewhere between your keyboard and textbook. Resist! A cool blast of air helps you feel alert.
Step 2: Get Your Eat On
- Keep the ice water flowing. Sure, you may be making more frequent trips to the bathroom, but the cold water will keep you awake without causing you to binge — and subsequently crash — on caffeine. (Plus, walking to the bathroom can help keep you alert.)
- Plan small meals or portioned snacks. Instead of staring at an empty bag of chips, portion out your snacks in a couple plastic baggies so you’re not as likely to binge. It’s easy to mindlessly eat while working, so set aside two or three 100- to 150-calorie snacks to eat throughout the night.
- Opt for energy-boosting foods: Baby carrots, almonds, bananas with peanut butter, an apple, berries and broccoli florets are known for preventing fatigue, according to Blogher. Foods with a low-glycemic index, such as chickpeas, grapes, nuts, watermelon and aforementioned apples and carrots, are also great for keeping your energy levels strong and steady throughout the night.
- Keep the caffeine to a minimum. Use it as a last resort, and only fill your smallest mug with coffee (or Five-Hour Energy, green tea, or whatever beverage you prefer). Quickly drinking a lot of caffeine can cause it to peak in your bloodstream, Prevention reports. Smaller doses throughout the night will prevent you from energy spikes — and stalls.
Step 3: Get Out of Your Seat!
- Take a shower. If your eyes are starting to blur and flutter shut, and you just can’t stop your head from bobbing, go take a cold shower. It’ll buy you another hour at least. Just make sure the water is unpleasantly cold (sorry!).
- Just dance! You may look ridiculous, but do something to get yourself moving. Maybe that means doing a set of jumping jacks or spending five minutes dancing your face off to the latest Rebecca Black jam (you know you love her), but commit to taking a short break to revive yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
Finally, here’s some interesting info to help you visualize the affect all-nighters can have on you (courtesy of OnlineColleges.net):