11 Steps to Surviving an All-Nighter

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As college students, we know all about what I like to call the great rite of passage: pulling an all nighter.

Maybe you’ve been studying for days but still want to get in one last cram session before your big final. Or maybe you procrastinated and didn’t start the project worth 20 percent of your grade until the night before. The all-nighter doesn’t judge. It’s always here for you and your GPA.

If this is your first attempt, or even if you’re a seasoned vet who could use a refresher, follow these easy steps to make it through the night successfully:

1. Gather all the supplies and snacks you need

This is the one time you shouldn’t feel guilty for eating an entire box of Girl Scout cookies. Make sure to not only have all the junk food you want, but some brain food as well. It’s important to keep your mind working and snacks like protein bars are the perfect way to keep you going.

2. Hold off on coffee, for now

As a college student, coffee is probably your best friend. It’s there for you in the morning when you’re a split second away from deciding to go back to bed and it’s there for you in the darkest hours of the night as you stare hopelessly at your chem notes. It’s tempting to down a whole cup as you start studying, but as you will soon learn, it’s all about pacing. It’s not necessary when you start off and it’ll become less effective later in the night when you really need it.

3. Set a game plan

The most important element to surviving an all nighter is setting a realistic plan for the night. Planning out your hours and knowing what you have to do will keep you from getting discouraged later on. The last thing you want is to hit a wall at 3 a.m. and not have a plan to get you through it. Knowing you have realistic goals to work towards will make the night go by much faster.

4. Okay, fine, go ahead and take a break

Your brain needs a break every once in a while during a long study session. Check your phone, watch a YouTube video or just get up and walk around for a few minutes. This will let your brain assimilate the information you have seen and be more refreshed throughout the night.

5. Put your phone away

Keep your phone away or at least out of sight. It’s hard to fight the constant urge we feel to check our phones and be updated on social media. This will only get worse in the dark and lonely hours of the night when you’re desperate for anything to distract you. Don’t fall into the trap—do whatever is necessary to keep you off your phone.

6. Don’t be afraid of naps

Yes, you read that right. It’s OK to nap. Taking small 15 to 20 minute naps actually help you feel more awake and alert. Think of it as restarting your computer: it’s not off for very long but comes back on good as new. Time them out correctly and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go all night.

7. Now drink that cup of coffee

Whether you’re just waking up from a small nap or you’ve been going for a few hours, it’s finally time to drink that cup of coffee. It’s late enough in the night that it’ll give you that necessary boost the first cup of coffee gives you. You haven’t exhausted your threshold yet and the caffeine will shoot through you like lightning. Try not to go overboard on the espresso and ride the boost it’ll give you.

8. Change settings

It’s hard to stare at the same blank wall or empty room for hours at a time. To keep yourself from getting bored or going into a rut, get up and find a new place to study. The new surroundings will activate your brain and make it feel like you haven’t been studying that long. A change of setting may be the thing you need when you hit the early hours before dawn.

9. Jam out to your favorite song

Sitting and staying put in one place actually makes you more tired. When you find yourself feeling more and more lethargic, get up and move. Blast “Shake it Off” and give Taylor Swift a run for her money with your awkward dancing. Pick your favorite One Direction song and jump around as you cry about Zayn leaving. Any song that gets your blood flowing will give you energy to power through the night.

10. Watch the sunrise

This is more of a nice perk than a necessity. Hey, you did it. You put in the hours and stayed up all night studying. Go ahead and treat yourself to a gorgeous sunrise. After all, when’s the last time you truly sat and appreciated one? It’ll remind you that there are things in life outside of studying, and you’ll have a wonderful memory.

11. Try to catch at least a few Z’s before going to class

It’s important to try to sleep a little bit before going into your final or having to give that big presentation. It’ll refresh your brain and keep you focused and concentrated. If you are one of those people that frequently sleeps through alarms, don’t do this. It’s too risky. But if you know that you’ll wake up even if you’ve only slept one or two hours, go ahead and get some rest. Just be sure to set multiple alarms.

Telecommunications junior at the University of Florida and aspiring entertainment writer. Drowning in TV shows while daydreaming about being Amy Poehler's BFF.

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