I am a morning person in that, if given the choice, I would have everything that needs doing done by 4:30 in the afternoon. Unfortunately, my schedule, need to remain gainfully employed and looming deadlines do not always cooperate with this natural inclination. When (and it is when) the time comes to stay up all night, this check list helps make it somewhat less painful.
1. Ask yourself: Is an all nighter the appropriate choice for me? Generally speaking, you shouldn’t stay up the entire night if you have any need of cognitive function the next day. Exam tomorrow? Get some Zzzs, yo. If its a paper, project or court-mandated cleaning spree, however, fire up the coffee pot and let the good times roll.
2. Set goals: What ought you be getting done tonight? And what absolutely needs to be completed to call this venture a success? Understand that you probably won’t become the Batman of semester’s end work, but that you do have a golden opportunity to knock a bunch of things off your to-do list.
3. Find partners, but don’t abuse them: If you can’t find someone (or someones) to go the distance with you, that’s alright. But see if they’re interested in working along side of you for just a little while. Even if they go home early, you’ll be grateful that you didn’t have to go it alone (at least not the entire time).
4. Drink water: especially if you’re using caffeine. (Personal anecdote: One of my semesterly traditions is to work at the Dorm Midnight Breakfast, pull an all-nighter, and then open the next day. It usually ends up being around 36 hours of wakefulness. During one of these fantastic endurance tests, I completely replaced water with coffee and sugar-free Redbull. My fingers swelled so much that I had to stand in a freezer to pry my rings off.) If frequent urination seems like an inconvenience, try to view the amount of time you spend in the bathroom as a nature-mandated stretch break. You will thank me when your fingers aren’t turning blue from the swelling. Also, when you start to cry from exhaustion, your body will still be capable of producing tears.
5. Do not, under any circumstances, find yourself prone in a horizontal position. If you go horizontal, it is game over.
There are, of course, some miscellaneous considerations to the all-nighter process, think of the following things while you plot your midnight glory:
What to Wear: Personally, I’m on Team Real Clothing. If I’m already in my pajamas, I am not going to stay awake long enough to start and finish the term paper. They should be comfortable and warm (I tend to study in cold places – the ever pressing fear of death by hypothermia keeps me motivated) but not so snuggly that you can actually fall asleep.
How often should you break to stretch: Honestly, I think stretching is for losers. But if you’re the type who needs a good stretching out, you can always use the tongue-indicator. If your tongue is relaxed and laying on the bottom of your mouth, you probably have some time left. If it is clenched and on the roof of your mouth, take a minute to unwind.
What to Eat: You’re going to need something to soak up that caffeine. Ideally, your snickity snack of choice should be eaten with one hand. Choose wisely and don’t eat anything with tryptophan. (I would also caution against high in sodium foods, it will only aggravate the water retention you’re welcoming.)
Finally, if you have hit the wall of productivity, you have a couple of options. First of all, how much time do you have and do you have the ability to nap? I do not, so often I end up with two extra hours to spare before heading into (paid) work and no ability to (school) work left. Here’s some stuff you can do:
-Clean out your backpack/purse/makeup bag.
-Rearrange computer files.
-Tidy up your apartment.
-Plot out the rest of your to-do list.
-Make a good hearty breakfast.
-Find random blogs to read.
-Watch cable news.
As always, remember to practice all your usual morning routines as you transition from darkness to light…brush your teeth, put on real clothes and remember that this is going to be painful, but you will survive.