How To Have A Productive All-Nighter

5th December 2017 Joe Graham Study

Staying up all night studying is something most students will face. Usually after months of knowing the essay is due, and suddenly the deadline day is the next day. How can you make the most of your time? Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Night owls

For some nocturnal students, staying up all night is just like the rest of us being up all day. It can be a lonely place if you’re the only one. While your parents may blame this on your long lie-ins, according to research there’s actually a reason why some people are night owls.

A study by the University of Sydney showed that people work more effectively at different times of the day depending on their chronotype (or body clock). It also affects the performance of coordination and information processing. So, knowing whether you work best in the evening or morning can really help when it comes to studying.

Female student studying at night

The all-nighter

First of all, it’s got to be said that staying up until 4am cramming for an 8am exam will be of little benefit. While you may have only recently read the information, it’s unlikely to have sunk into your sleep-deprived brain properly. If you have a busy day the next day, an all-nighter is a bad idea. However, there are some ways you can improve the productivity of your evening awake.

Take a nap

Have a power nap beforehand to get ahead of yourself, sleep-wise. This will give you some extra juice to begin with and should keep you going through your studies. According to, 20 minutes is the optimum nap time as you won’t hit the deeper stages of sleep meaning you’ll wake feeling refreshed rather than groggy.

Ditch the sugar

We’ve all heard of ‘sugar rush’ – the energy crash you experience after eating refined sugar. Snacking on chocolates and sweets may make you feel awake for a short while but soon you’ll feel the effects of the crash. A fuzzy head, tiredness, headaches and mood swings will hinder your studies and make you feel terrible.

Foods that provide long-lasting energy will be much more useful. Peanut butter and apple or Greek yoghurt and berries contain lean protein which will fill you up without causing an energy crash. Keep snacking through the night to top up your stores.

Yoghurt and berries in bowl

Stay hydrated

Step away from the energy drinks! Water is your best friend. According to Healthline, ‘mild dehydration (fluid loss of 1-3%) can impair energy levels and mood, and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance’. Keep a bottle of water by your side at all times and make sure to drink regularly.

A few hours into the night, you may feel a dip in energy. Have one cup of coffee for a quick caffeine injection and then continue with water. This should keep you awake for longer and won’t give you the coffee jitters.

Take a break

If you’re pulling an all-nighter, you’re already in a high-stress situation. It’s important to drag yourself away from the screen at regular intervals to give your mind and body a short break. Doing small exercises like some star jumps, push ups or burpees will get that blood pumping and keep you alert, improving your brain function. If you’re feeling stressed, yoga can help to clear the mind and relax your body while stretching out those muscles.

Student doing yoga pose

Keep your routine

After you’ve handed in your essay or sat the exam, you’ll want to crash and sleep the entire day. Don’t do it! Have a nap during the day and try and stay up until your usual bed time or get a slightly earlier night’s sleep than usual. The next day you’ll be back to your regular sleep schedule and won’t turn yourself into a nocturnal student.

Do you have any more all-nighter tips? Let us know in the comments!

Joe Graham

Joe Graham

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