Written by Patrycja Domeradzka – Student Writer
We’ve all struggled with deadlines: putting that essay off again and again until, before you know it, there are only 12 hours until deadline, and the only option is an all-nighter. Although it’s not good for our bodies, and even worse for stress levels, some of us find ourselves at this point time after time. You should avoid an all-nighter at all costs, but if you find yourself facing no other option, here is our guide to ensure you spend the night most efficiently.
Start with a nap: Don’t sleep for too long, though. Napping for hours will only make you feel more tired and groggy. However, a short nap will help you save energy and refresh you for the night ahead. A ‘prophylactic’ nap is much better for your concentration and alertness than multiple doses of caffeine.
So, how long should you sleep? It is believed that a nap of around 90-minutes will take you through a full cycle of sleep and minimise grumpiness from being awoken from deep sleep.
Turn on the lights: Turn on as many lights as possible. Darkness sets off the production of melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. Bright lights will keep melatonin at bay and ensure that you don’t fall asleep suddenly. However, in case you do, it’s best to set regular alarms to make sure you don’t sleep through your deadline.
Stay hydrated: This is especially important if you decide to perk yourself up with caffeine. Staying hydrated will help you stay awake and will make you feel slightly better the next day. If you choose to drink energy drinks, try to have twice as much water as energy drinks.
Prepare snacks: Make sure to reduce the amount of refined sugar you consume, as this will only make you crash a few hours down the line. It’s better to focus on carbs and proteins, as they will provide you with long-lasting energy. To ensure you won’t have to go through an energy crash, opt for snacking a little, several times throughout the night rather than eating one huge meal.
Take short breaks to walk around: Giving your brain and eyes a break every 40 minutes or so will help you stay awake. Headaches emerging from looking at your monitor for too long will only make you feel worse and your bed seem more tempting than ever.
Don’t make yourself too comfortable: This one seems obvious but cannot be over-stated. Do not study in bed; this is a very dangerous idea that can only lead to accidentally sleeping through the night or falling asleep right before you finish and missing your deadline.
Open the windows: Cold air should keep you awake. You might even want to try washing your face with cold water every now and then. However, you might find that this works in the exact opposite way for you – warmth keeps you awake, coldness helps you sleep – in which case, you should always listen to your body.
Mind your posture: Backache will only make you feel worse and more fatigued. If you do find yourself aching, try massaging the tip of your ear: an acupuncture pressure point that should help relieve pain in your shoulders.