How to Pull an All-nighter

The first, and best tip, about all nighters is to be organized and NEVER need to pull one. They wreak havoc on your health, and every extra hour of exhaustion you add, you will diminish your IQ for the following day. This is why I never recommend an all-nighter before an exam - you need that brain! But, I admit, my procrastination has caused me to have a few when deadlines are looming. Here are some tips that will help you pull through.

  • Drink lots and lots of water. Exhausting yourself will leave you very dehydrated. The best thing to have is water, and lots of it. The two best things for your health are plenty of water and plenty of sleep. Since you are depriving yourself of one, you may as well be on top of the other.
  • Eat snacks regularly. Do not starve yourself, but do not over-eat either. A tummy full of food when you're tired will have you nodding off over your keyboard, or whatever other project you're working on. Be mindful of what you eat as well. Sugary snacks will have you amped, and then crashing hard. I like healthier snacks with a good mix. Almonds, popcorn, veggies, dehydrated fruit, crackers and cheese ... whatever keeps you going. Those calories convert to energy, and you're going to need plenty of it.
  • Coffee. This one is up to you; tea, energy drinks, whatever floats your boat. Those energy drinks make my heart race and scare me, personally. But I can't live without a cup or two of coffee on an all nighter. At least one for the night before, and especially one for the morning. By this point I'm usually feeling pretty sorry for myself and feel I deserve an extra tasty, extra expensive beverage from Starbucks. The caffeine also increases your need for water, as it dehydrates as well.
  • An organized itinerary/time line for the night. Stick to it and be strict. This will reduce your panic near the end. Leave a little extra time for unexpected dilemmas or time drains; your printer will always run out of ink when you're desperate and have been away for two days. It's Murphy's Law.

Just remember, the best offense is a good defense. And in terms of defense, that means being organized and avoiding being in the position of having to stay up all night because you were procrastinating.

Good luck with your all nighter!

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Posted on May 2, 2010