How To Survive An All-Nighter

PC: Irene Sung

Disclaimer: pulling all-nighters should be used as a last resort. It is incredibly unhealthy, and can cause you to slip in school. Before you open Instagram or play a game on your phone, start your homework first: you won’t regret it.

When video games and social media become too tantalising, you sometimes find yourself sitting there, scrolling through Instagram or playing just one round of a video game. Suddenly, one round becomes two. You switch from Instagram to Facebook, and later look up to see that the clock has struck 12 am. This cycle continues to repeat, and you realise that most of your work is due tomorrow. You start to panic— this isn’t just a slight detour.You’ve managed to procrastinate all the way through to the deadline, and this project was important. You think to yourself, and then realise there is only one way you can manage all this work: you have to pull an all-nighter.

Surviving with no sleep for more than 24 hours is a difficult task; people’s bodies are idiosyncratic ,and all-nighters can either be a little taxing or ruin the next day entirely. Regardless, the next day won’t be fun. Lack of sleep can cause drowsiness, memory problems and impaired performance, which can affect your studies and set you back. Furthermore, teenage bodies require 8-10 hours of sleep each night to be at peak performance levels. Without sleep, your body is at its worst in terms of conditions. Pulling an all-nighter should be used as a last resort, and shouldn’t be done on a regular basis; but for those who desperately need more time, here are a few tips on how to survive an all-nighter.

Before the all-nighter, squeeze in a few short naps here and there before you start working. If you’re not planning to get any sleep during the next six hours, make sure to have some extra fuel. Eat small snacks that are high in protein and carbs. They provide long, sustained energy that can keep you going. Avoid sugary snacks – they only give you short-term energy, and will cause you to crash.

During the all-nighter, these are the things you should do:

  • Your workspace should be bright enough to combat the onset of melatonin, a hormone that induces drowsiness and eventually sleep. Bright lights can keep you awake and less tired through the hours.
  • Having a room that’s either slightly above or below 18 degrees celsius is also a good idea, as humans sleep best at that temperature.
  • Another tip with staying awake is to balance your coffee and water intake. Though people would think that chugging coffee would keep them awake, the healthy amount of caffeine a teenager should take daily is 100mg, which is just one cup of coffee. Too much caffeine can cause jitteriness and loss of focus.
  • Taking breaks away from the computer screen will prevent you from straining your eyes. Massage them, or pace around your room for a while to give yourself a breather.
  • A final tip is to chew gum— chewing gum not only helps with memory, but working your jaw muscles can keep you awake, and chewing minty gum can also help with its fresh taste.

After you finished the all-nighter, your first instinct may be to make a thermos full of coffee and to drink it through the day to keep you functioning. But taking too much caffeine can cause more jitteriness, lack of focus, and disruptions to your sleep pattern, causing you to spend another sleepless night. If you truly need it, drink your coffee in the morning, as it will help you stay awake. Taking small naps throughout the day also help. Whether it is on the bus to school or during free periods, any amount of sleep will help you, as your body needs some rest after a grueling period without. Another thing you should do is to reset your sleeping schedule: 10 hours of unbroken sleep can reverse the negative side effects of sleep deprivation and reset your body clock, getting you back on your regular sleep schedule.

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