All-Nighter Tips

Posted: October 18, 2011 in Don't be lazy, Mental Health

I am not one to pull an “all-nighter.” Even if I have a test the next day that I am not prepared for, I usually choose to get a couple extra Z’s rather than study. However, there have been a couple nights (usually during finals week) that I have made it through the whole night, and went to class with NO sleep. I know some of you guys probably do this on a regular baisis, so I put together some tips that will help you out.

Elevate Feet– Anything that gets blood to your head is going to “make you smarter” research shows. So if you are reading a textbook or looking over notes, you might as well chill out and kick your feet up.

Short Breaks– Take multiple breaks (every thirty minutes) because it is shown that you remember what you learn at the beginning and the end of a study session and not so much the stuff in the middle. Therefore if you take a break after 30 minutes, rather than 2-3 hours, you should remember more!

Blitzes– You should do these during your break mentioned above. A blitz is a one minute burst of an exercise. I recommend studying for 30 minutes, do a blitz, study 30 more minutes, do a one minute blitz, etc. When you exercise, it acts as a mental “reset,” getting more blood to the brain via opening up of the arteries leading to the brain (vasodilation)–blood in the brain is a good thing–helping to power mental function, i.e. focus and memorization (from the book Spark by John Ratey)!  Below I listed a couple ideas for blitzes.

  • Push Ups
  • Sit Ups
  • Dips (using bed, desk, chair,etc)
  • Burpees
  • Squat Jumps
  • Switch Jumps

**Or get creative with it! Maybe try chain movements? 1 squat/1 squat jump/1 squat/2 SJ/1 squat/ 3SJ seeing how high you can get in a minute? All of these things can be done in a dorm room with nothing but body weight.

BCAA’s-Branch chain amino acids help stabilize blood sugar. I recommend taking 5g every 3-4 hours to avoid blood sugar swings caused by the stress hormone cortisol.  We all know staying up all night trying to beat a deadline is stressful as hell so doing everything you can to help lower stress hormones is beneficial. BCAAs also help to maintain muscle.

Avoid Big Meals– Do not crush 2 Big Macs, a supersized french fry, 6 apple pies, and a diet coke right before you head out to the library for the night. When crushing a big meal it sends blood rushing to the stomach, rather than the brain. Also, you are sending your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride–energetic one minute, in an insulin coma the next. Instead, choose smaller meals spread out, and eat a serving of protein at each meal, which will stabilize blood sugar levels, allowing you to stay focused for longer. Cortisol will stay in check too.

Eat SMALL Meals– If you are staying up all night, it is important to eat small meals throughout the night consisting of protein to help control stress hormones.

Black Coffee-While shopping for beverages skip out on the Red Bull, Monster, & Mountain Dew. If you need a drink to keep you awake go with black coffee, or unsweetened cocoa powder mixed with water (at stevia or splenda to sweeten) to make a fake hot chocolate. Cocoa helps to boost mood, lowers cravings for sweets and supports the health of your adrenals better than coffee or red bull. I also like green tea, it’s a little lower on the caffeine scale, but it’s also a natural estrogen detoxifier, so if you currently have man-boobs, you better start drinking it.

Sleep (the next day)-When you miss out on a whole night of sleep it’s important to get rest as soon as you can. If I pulled an all nighter, I would go take my test, come home, and knock out for the day. Remember, sleep is the body’s “reset” button so even if you can only get a few hours in, it’s worth it.

Example of one-minute blitz

  1. pbbrittany says:

    I’ve never pulled an all nighter and I hope I never have to! I would rather be unprepared but well rested than semi prepared and tired. My luck, I’d end up falling asleep during the test 😛
    These are good tips though. On the weekends when I have to do a ton of homework and I’m locked in my room all day, I’ll always take breaks to do some sort of exercise because it does help me study better!

  2. good blog!! I pull all nighters sometimes and it’s rough! You should check out my blog as well 🙂

  3. […] will help keep your stress levels low[er]. I blogged a couple weeks ago about stress control and late night tips which could probably both apply to this INSANE week, but finals week is a different ball game than […]

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