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How to survive an all-nighter (if you have to!)

Okay, so this post is not at all endorsement of ‘all-nighters’. Everyone knows how important sleep is for your concentration and memory. If you’re revising, the only way you can retain information is through your sleep cycle.

However, even the most organised student has to go through staying up late or, even not sleeping at all. Maybe this is because they have not anticipated that that one essay was going to take so long. Perhaps they have forgotten that they had an assignment due the next day in the midst of other coursework and exam prep.

Either way, all-nighters are almost like a rite of passage for students!

In this blog post, I compile a list of 10 student approved* hacks to getting in those extra hours of work especially now that exam season has dawned.


…if a picture had to summarise my exam season, this would be it.


1. Stay clean – shower or splash some water on your face

This is one of the easiest ways to maintain your productivity level. Showering offers a few moments of peace away from your notes. Additionally, it’s the best time to mull over your ideas. Research has shown that when you feel clean, you feel renewed making you more productive.

2. Caffeine is your friend …but vitamin supplements may be your BEST friend

Caffeine and energy drinks are effective in keeping you up and improving focus. However, it is best to make sure to only drink these later on at night. Drinking throughout the day actually reduces their effectiveness. You’re better off keeping yourself awake around the 9pm mark by getting fresh air or going for a quick shower than finishing off a can of energy drink.

On the other hand, taking vitamins won’t offset an unhealthy lifestyle (…such as frequently pulling all-nighters) but you can’t really go wrong by adding antioxidants into your body. Vitamins B is best for memory retention and can be naturally sourced from green veggies such as spinach, broccoli and fruits such as oranges.

3. Turn your break into a gym session

It’s 3pm and you’re already getting lethargic from that sandwich you had for lunch. You need a nap. Well why not shoot two birds with one stone by dropping by at the gym for a half hour session? The Jubilee Sports Centre on Highfield Campus is open until 10pm. Even non-members of the gym can join in selected activities such as swimming, ball sports and fitness classes by paying a one off fee. Did someone say Zumba?!

4. Eat protein, not carbs

Sure, your body needs to release energy throughout the night and although carbs are the most obvious source of this, too much of it can actually make you sleepy. Carbs store energy for later but can even make you sleepier in the short term. Go for protein instead.

5. Don’t get too comfortable

The summer weather is upon us, finally. However, this means that everywhere we go it’s going to be warm and cosy and, simply, fantastic! But not if you want to finish off that Biology report for the next morning.

If you’re working from home, try not to do your work in bed whilst you’re snuggled up to the duvet. You’ll most likely end up snoozing off by the time the birds start chirping outside. On the other hand, now is the time to turn your heating off and open wide those windows to let the cool spring air in! If you’re working on campus, many of the University’s buildings are air-conditioned such as Level 5 in the Hartley Library. Cool off and keep concentrating.

6. Set half an hour goals …and reward yourself once you reach them

Study smarter by giving yourself an incentive to perform your best. Of course, aside from the overall reward of competing that assignment or mastering that equation, the prospect of a chocolate bar or some fresh air can make you word more efficiently.


Why not treat yourself to some karaoke this Friday night? After all, you do deserve a break!


7. Drink water

Staying hydrated can help you stay awake by keeping your body feel refreshed. At the same time, it will keep you from dozing off by making you visit the bathroom more often.

8. Chew gum

Ultimately, the key hack to staying up all night is making sure that you stimulate your senses at all times. I find that keeping my mouth busy by chewing some gum keeps me alert.

9. Get a study buddy

Study buddies can help develop understanding, learning and confidence. Have you ever explained a concept to a friend and thought to yourself  ‘wow, I didn’t realise I knew that much!’ If you don’t understand a concept, asking someone for help not only boosts your confidence in knowing that you have someone on your side but asking, in general, is a big part of having a growth mind-set.
Besides, at the 3am mark, it helps to have someone poking you from sleep.

10. The best tip of all: start early and stop procrastinating so you simply just don’t have to do it!

Here are just some of my tips for when I’m in desperate need for more time to work. The point of this blog is give you some help. It is definitely not to encourage you to stay up all night in a desperate attempt to get that paper in the next day. It’s not healthy at all.

But, we’re students and, like I said, sometimes, these situations are just something that we have to go through.

If you have any tips on hacking all-nighters, why not comment below? Good-luck with exams and coursework!


*…self-approved by the author through past experience…

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