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COLUMN I How to pull a healthy(ish) all-nighter

Like many college students, every once in awhile I have to pull an all-nighter. Since I’m already a night owl I typically do my best work when the sun is down. However, when that big paper or large project is due the next day, sometimes an all-nighter is required. Here are some of my tips for how to keep yourself awake when you’ve got a huge workload due the next day:

1. Take a nap if possible.

If you have some time take a short nap during the day, just to make sure your batteries will be recharged and can make it through the night without getting (too) drowsy.

2. Eat things with protein and stay away from carbs.

According to Dr. Nathan Shier, a professor of nutrition science at Indiana University, eating carbs when you’re trying to stay awake will release high levels of serotonin in the brain.  Too much serotonin will make you lethargic.  Stick to proteins that will help you stay awake.

3. Drink caffeine.

This is a big one for me.  I love coffee, and any excuse to drink it makes me happy.  All nighters are perfect for drinking it constantly.  The caffeine in it keeps me awake and allows me to stay energized while I finish my work. Make sure to drink lots of water so you don’t get dehydrated!

4. Exercise.

If you feel sleepy at all, get up and exercise.  I like to go for quick walks, especially when the weather is a bit brisk outside.  It wakes me right up and gets the blood flowing so that when I get back to my desk and do work.

5. Find a study buddy.

If you can, find someone to study with you.  It will give you to have someone to talk with if you feel yourself drifting off.

6. Make sure to be uncomfortable.

This one sounds kind of unpleasant, but if you sit upright in a hard chair, you will become so annoyed that you’ll stay awake.

The important thing to remember with all-nighters is that you don’t want to pull them often. They can be unhealthy and can mess up your sleep schedule. Be sure to do them only when absolutely necessary. When you decide to stay up extra late and follow these tips, you’re on your way to pulling a successful all-nighter!