How to Pull an All-Nighter

As the clock ticks closer and closer to the last day of school, another less exciting event is coming up: finals. Here’s some tips from a burntout senior on how to prepare for the inevitable 3:00 AM study-sesh.


Photo by Shalla Bowers

A clock shows the time 1:23 AM.

Carbs, carbs, and more carbs are going to be your best friend when you start to doze off. You are going to want a family size box of crackers, a bag of chips, and some of your favorite candy to stock up on that quick energy. Save the veggies for another day, your main objective is to stay awake. Now is not the time to try and be healthy.

Some sugar and carb filled snack options that are sure to give you some quick energy. (Photo by Shalla Bowers)

Energy Drinks
Coffee isn’t going to do the trick when it’s three in the morning and you’re on hour six of studying. You need at least 200mg of caffeine in any drink you are consuming tonight. This isn’t a health ad, okay, so if you have an underlying health condition maybe skip this tip and opt for a lightly caffeinated tea. But if you don’t, trust me and bottoms up.

I’d love to push through an all nighter to finally be able to get some beauty sleep as much as the next guy, but believe me when I say that you’re going to hit a wall. When that happens, the worst thing you can do is keep working. The quality of your work will be awful, and you’ll work twice as slow as well. Instead, set times for study breaks. For example, every hour and a half take a twenty minute break where you do anything but schoolwork. Even though this seems like it would make studying take longer, it will actually prevent you from hitting a wall and improve the speed of your work in the long run.

Background noise
Some people, myself included, work better in silence. However, in the early hours of the morning, you’re going to be exhausted and your body will be begging for sleep. You’ll need every tool available to stay awake, and background noise is one of the better tools to accomplish that. Since you probably don’t want to wake anyone in your home up, you’ll need to listen via headphones. Turn on some upbeat music or a show you don’t care about on the highest volume you can stand. The point is to give yourself as little likelihood of falling asleep as possible. So, just lean into the discomfort of listening to hard rock at 2:00 AM.

Studying supplies lie spread out on a desk. (Photo by Shalla Bowers)

The setup of your late-night study sesh could completely make-or-break how much you’re able to get done. First, the last place you want to be is lying in your bed. You will naturally feel tired working in a place where you lay down to sleep, so if you can, move to a desk. If you don’t have a desk, sit on the floor and use your bed as a desk. Any slightly uncomfortable sitting position will work, really. Also, try not to have your phone sitting by you unless absolutely necessary. It will just distract you, especially if you get a notification. Just save the phone for breaks and after you finish, you won’t need it while you’re studying.