How to (successfully) pull an all-nighter

With finals week fast approaching, here are some practical and productive tips

There is a singular truth that all college students agree on —you will have an all-nighter at least once in your college career.

No matter how well you plan your time,  how careful you are about taking care of yourself, how un-involved you are, there comes a moment when you will have to forgo sleep in order to get your work done–whether this happens once in four years or every week like your ever-tired Editor-in-Chief.

This being said, I don’t want to make light of not sleeping. Sleep is vital to your physical and mental health. If you can even get one REM cycle it can do wonders for you and for your productivity. That said, if you have exhausted all your other options, here are my tried and true tips to get through it as healthily and successfully as possible. 


Drink water! Even if you think you’re drinking enough, double it. You put a lot of stress on your body when you forgo sleep, and water can cushion it.

This is doubly true if you’re caffeinating yourself. Caffeine, which is a mild diuretic, could increase your risk of dehydration.

This dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue and more. You definitely don’t want this during your all night writing session.

Do it with friends

Talking with others or even just having a TV on can increase alertness and trick your brain into thinking it is still a normal time of night. 

Jump around

Taking breaks to get the blood flowing does more than just give you a break from work, it ensures you will stay alert for longer. Doing a few jumping jacks can get your blood pumping up into your brain increasing alertness.

Do your nighttime routine

Even if you’re not sleeping, you still need to take care of yourself. Wash your face, brush your teeth, take out your contacts, take a shower. You’ll feel much happier and it will be much easier to focus on your work. 

Take breaks

Your brain on average can only focus on something for around 45 minutes, with some studies suggesting that time is getting even shorter. Don’t fight against this. Section your work off into 45-minute chunks and reward yourself with a ten-minute break when you finish. If you’re really in a time crunch you can use your break to catch up on other work, like doing a reading. 

Take a coffee break

Even though rare, caffeine intoxication is a real threat. Don’t overdo it with coffee or energy drinks. Drink them slow and check in with yourself frequently to ensure you don’t do more harm than good

Don’t double up

Ensure you have time to sleep the day after your big night. After 48 hours without sleep there can be serious physical concerns, like threats to the immune system and micro-sleeps which can make it dangerous to drive, according to HealthLine. Other symptoms include: altered appetite, metabolism, hormonal state, mood, stress level and decreased motivation and attention.

All in all, though, no matter how many tips I can give you– the best all-nighter is no all-nighter. Sleep is vital. Make sure you’re getting it this last couple of weeks. Even if it means accepting you won’t get an A in that class, you won’t attend that party or you won’t do that assignment.

Your health is the most important thing. Stay safe out there.

~Morgan Barclay, Editor-in-Chief~

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