If you know us then you know we don't suggest or believe in skimping on sleep, however, we do know that sometimes it's necessary to use those few precious hours at night to finish a project or work on a paper.
It is important to know the risks of pulling off all nighters throughout the school year before you actually try and accomplish it.
- Lower Grades/Bad Memory- Stated by the National Institute of Health, habitual sleeplessness can result in decreased learning capacity. Even if all-night cramming works in a pinch it’s not reliable for long term learning.
- Less Effective- All-nighters are also not great for your memory, attention, or focus. Staying up all night for a test the next morning is simply a bad idea. If you need to be a functioning human being the next day then cut your losses and get some sleep. "Studies have shown that people tend to remember the first and last things we hear in a given time period, while the information in the middle gets sort of hazy if it’s remembered at all. Now, apply that to an eight-hour session of almost constant information intake by a sleep-deprived mind. That’s a whole bunch of lost information." - Huffington Post
- Health Problems- If you’re perfectly healthy (i.e. exercise and eat well) but your sleep habits can have harm your health. The Associated Professional Sleep Societies state, “healthy adults that get fewer than six hours of sleep per night are four times more likely to suffer a stroke than their well-rested counterparts.”
- Chronic Sleep Deprivation- Reducing your amount of sleep will always take a toll on your body. Whether you suffer from insomnia, sleep deprived euphoria, narcolepsy, or are just always tired pulling an all nighter isn't the best idea. When minimizing sleep is a part of your lifestyle, then you're going to ruin your chance of the productivity benefits you'd gain with pulling an all-nighter.
There are some situations where staying up all night might not hurt any benefit you would otherwise gain:
- Light workload the following day- Staying up late on Thursday to finish a project due Friday isn't going to be nearly as harmful or difficult if you have a light workload the rest of the day.
- If you have time for naps- Losing sleep only solved by getting sleep. Pulling an all-nighter to get a project done for the following morning can be okay if you have find time to nap later that day.
- When you haven't pulled another all-nighter recently. Staying up all night means losing sleep. Staying up every night means you are causing your body chronic sleep deprivation. If you've missed out on a large amount of sleep that week then don't attempt an all-nighter until you are fully rested.
Now that we know the risks, lets try to plan out how to pull off an effective, safe and healthy all-nighter.
- Turn off your apps, television, and phone- When you are constantly getting distracted by notifications, friends, and the internet then your effective study time will be hindered.
- Work next to a window or open door- The cool breeze will keep you awake and alert. Or if you stay alert when you are warm then put on a cozy sweater!
- Sit at a desk or table. Setting up your study area on a comfortable bed or chairyou will feel tempted to sleep and the more comfortable the location, the worse you'll feel.Working at a desk and chair will allow you to stay motivated and effective.
- Avoid the call of caffein.- Coffee and tea may seem like a helpful tool, but you can a small buzz then crash badly the that night or the next day. Try staying hydrated with water, cold water will keep you alert and cause you to urinate (making trips to the restroom will keep you awake).
- Turn up the lights. “We need darkness to have the onset of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us sleepy,” says Natalie Dautovich Ph.D., a National Sleep Foundation environmental fellow. “So if you’re trying to stay awake, bright light can be very effective.”
Take a short break every 45 minutes to an hour. Walk around and stretch, allow your brain to relax and breathe. If you are using a laptop or desktop make sure you are taking frequent breaks to rest your eyes, this will calm the muscles and prevent them from becoming strained.
- Know when to stop. If you can't even remember what you just read or you're nodding off, then you need to go to sleep. Know your limits and listen to them when they call.