As much as we’d like to stress regarding the idiocy of pulling overnighters for an exam, there are simply times when it’s unavoidable. Whatever reason it might be – an exam, due dates, deadlines – there will be one time (or multiple) in your life where an overnighter will simply be unavoidable. Therefore, if you’re going to do that much damage to your body for the greater cause of getting something done, then at least, you might as well do it right.
We’ve compiled all the things that you’re going to need to do from the best sources to give you the best chances to survive – and survive well. Be it a presentation or an exam, follow these steps, and while you might not perform better than you would had you prepared over the last few days, you’ll definitely perform better than going against these.
Before you start, take a nap. In fact, at any time where you’re going to have to stay awake for an extended period of time – even if it’s just til 3 a.m. in the morning, it’s advised to take a 20 minute nap. Pulling an all-nighter, in essence, is like stealing sleep from your future self. Therefore, you must make up for it as much as you can right before you blast through.
Prepare your caffeine. This isn’t simply going to the supermarket beforehand and stocking on Red Bull. You also need to get your body prepared for the caffeine that’s going to come. If you’ve ever had a break from caffeine for a while and take the first cup of coffee, you know the intense surge you get from that very first one. Same applies here. If you know beforehand you’ll be taking an overnighter, try to abstain from caffeine for at least a week, and when you take that first shot late in the night, you’ll thank us.
Protein over carbs. When you need to munch on something at night, take protein snacks over carbs. Carbs make you tired in the short term. You’d notice this if you eat a carb heavy meal at your lunch break. When you get back to work or to class, you’re often groggy. Eat foods that are high in protein. It keeps you going through the night, it’s slower to digest meaning you’re less hungry, and heck, you won’t get (too) fat.
BONUS: Exercise! While it might sound counterintuitive when you have so many things to get done, but doing a 20-minute exercise every 2-3 hours during your overnighter will boost your brain’s ability to retain information, as well as improve creative thinking. Aside from this, your blood will flow better, getting your brain on the right track. It’ll also aid with motivation. Of course, don’t overdo it. You don’t want to exhaust yourself. A 20-minute walk or a few pushups/ jumping jacks should work.