Introduction: College Hacks - How to Pull an All-Nighter (The RIGHT Way!)
It is back to school time once more, and you know what that means! After you've procrastinated studying for that exam or working on that final project, you have to pull yet another all nighter. They are fun at first, but after a few years they start to wear on you. Some people even get a hung-over type feeling once they finally get some sleep after an intense all-nighter.
I thrive on all nighter runs. As long as you can properly nourish your body to help counter the stress from lack of sleep, having an all nighter every now and then can make a HUGE difference in your GPA.
If you want to learn how to hack your life and pull successful all-night study sessions or project rampages, then this is just the instructable for you.
Step 1: Have a Plan & Come Prepared
- Copying all important points from notes into a study guide / cram guide.
- Re-reading one or several chapters of your textbook and taking notes as needed.
- Creating a complete set of flash cards and going through the set a certain number of times.
Make sure you have all of the study material and snackage that you need to keep you going all night long.
Drinks and snacks? Check.
Textbooks? Notes? Check, Check.
Index Cards, Highlighters, Sharpies, and Pens? Checkity Check!
Step 2: Take a Nap
No, not in the middle of your all nighter.
But if it looks like you may have to pull an all-nighter, it will be beneficial if you can get 1-2 hours of sleep sometime during the day before. You will want to make sure to wake up before 9 p.m., or risk your body trying to put you to sleep for the rest of the night!
When you get out of bed, it is sometimes helpful to pile other things on the bed to prevent you from laying down *just for a second* the rest of the night.
Step 3: Set an Alarm
Many people think that because they plan on staying up all night studying or working on a project that they do not need to set an alarm for the next day. This is a really BAD idea.
Not everyone can make it through every all nighter, and inevitably you will fall asleep during at least one of your midnight study attempts. There is no shame in this.
However, there is shame in accidently sleeping through your final exam, or your big presentation. Set an alarm for about 30 minutes before you actually need to wake up. This gives you a little extra time to get your sleepy head going in the morning if you DO fall asleep, and allows you to get to a stopping point before you start your day if you have managed to make it through the night and are still going.
Step 4: Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!
Aim to drink two 8oz glasses of water (or one standard 16oz bottle) every hour or two. It will keep you awake and alert, and help your body deal with lack of sleep stress.
Of course, caffeine is helpful too. However, watch your caffeine and make sure of two things
- Drink twice as much water as you do soda. If you have a glass of soda every hour, have a couple glasses of water with it. This will help keep you from crashing and keep the caffeine from dehydrating you.
- Make sure you have enough caffeine to get you through the night! No one likes the Out-of-Mtn-Dew crash coming at 4 a.m.
Step 5: Snack Smart
- Pizza - It has carbs in the crust and protein in the cheese, great for giving you energy all night long. Order a large when you're starving and snack on it the rest of the night!
- Cheese & Crackers - Also has those carbs and protein. If you want more food, add cut up lunchmeats!
- Apples, Peaches, Bananas, and Pears - Fresh fruit is packed full of complex carbs and natural sugars! Dried fruit is tasty too.
- Sandwiches - Packed full of things to keep you awake and thinking, sandwiches are always a great choice for study sessions. Take a good 10 minute break and make yourself a sandwich.
Step 6: Lighting Is Key!
Our bodies take a lot of timing cues from the environment around us, especially the lights. Lighting plays a key role in telling us when to wake up or go to sleep!
Keep your study room brightly lit to avoid any dim-lighting drowsiness. A good desk lamp or two can make a world of difference in your attention span!
If you find your eyelids getting heavy, stare at a dim spot in your room and slowly move your eyes toward the lights. This lighting motion will help simulate a sunrise and wake you up!
Step 7: Don't Allow Distractions
Easier said than done, of course, but in order to pull a successful all-nighter you must not allow in any distractions. This includes, but is not limited to the following.
Turn OFF your phone (and no, that doesn't mean vibrate or silent.) and unless about absolutely need it, turn off your Internet connection.
Music is fine in the background - some people study better to it - as long as it doesn't distract you. If you spend more time trying to find a song or station that you like than working on your project / paper / assignment, then it is NOT helping you study better.
Step 8: No Procrastination, Just Get Started!
Step 9: Once You Are Finished
Your alarm is set. Your work is done. You are as ready for the next day as you possibly could be.
The question remains - stay awake, or go to bed?
Unless it is within 1/2 hour of your alarm going off, GO TO BED. Even a half hour of still restfulness (you may be too anxious or caffeinated to sleep by this point.) will benefit both your body and mind. Sleep if you can, if not, just lay still and try to get comfortable and relax until the alarm goes off.