A students’ guide to all-nighters


By Shelby Netschke

In a perfect world, there would be no Monday mornings, dining hall food would be edible, and we would all get our work done on time. In real life, however, we procrastinate until we're forced to pull the dreaded all-nighter. We at Jerk are going to teach you how to stay up all night the right way—but keep in mind that this should be used emergencies only, much like that $50 bill your parents leave when they go away for the weekend.

Prepare yourself before you wreck yourself.

Once you hit the point of no return tonight, you won't be able to muster enough energy to hit the lights. And you know that tomorrow morning will very likely be one of the worst you will ever face. Prepare yourself by picking out a comfortable outfit (read: frumpy) that you can roll into on your way out the door. Also make sure you set your alarm, pack breakfast, and most importantly, take a shower before you even sit down to open that book.

Feed your brain.

Tonight you will eat like you’re running a marathona mental marathon. Avoid large meals and instead frequently snack on protein and carbs to keep your energy up. Stay away from overly sugary or fatty foods that will only make you sluggish and lead to crashing and burning. Turn to whole grains, nuts, fruits, and veggies to keep that Energizer Bunny pace going. Remember to stay hydrated by drinking as much water as possible. What good will all that studying do if you pass out during the test?

Don’t overdose on caffeine.

As tempting as it may be to down a six-pack of Mountain Dew, too much caffeine will only make this night far worse; you will be wired and anxious, and it will keep you up once you actually do decide to sleep. Grab a coffee in the morning, but in the meantime the food you eat will serve as a natural energy source

Turn down the brightness.

If this night will be spent hunched over a computer, turn down the brightness on your computer screen so as to not deep-fry your retinas. Printing out the reading material will also save your eyesight and keep you from falling into the rabbit hole of social networking sites (further tips on avoiding Internet procrastination would constitute an entirely different guide).

Don’t you dare lay down.

You are eventually going to sleep tonight, but it can’t be in the form of naps. Once you go down, you are not getting back up. Open a window and let the cold air shock your system, run a lap around the building, take a five-minute jam session (cue air guitar), wash your face, do jumping jacks, anything but sleeping.

Find a support system.

Not like group therapy, just someone to lean on throughout the night. Hit up the library with a friend and catch a ride back from DPS when you both stagger out into the darkness. Or study at their place, but bring a crash pad so you don’t have to go home at five in the morning. If all else fails, just ask a friend to join you for a quick Kimmel run to recharge.

Wait, what about the actual studying?

Ah, yes, the whole reason for all of this is to get some work done. If you have multiple classes or topics to study for, rotating between them every hour or so will help fight fatigue. Setting mini-alarms on your phone can help keep you on track. Hell, if you’ve followed the support system rule, give your partner a little “friendship tap” aka slap that bitch 'til her eyes open. But really.

The aftermath.

Turn in that essay, slay that test, and then do something relaxing and enjoyable for the rest of the day—as long as it’s not sleeping. Going to bed at as normal of a time as possible will ensure that your sleep cycle doesn’t get thrown out of whack for the next week. And if this whole experience didn’t convince you already, remember that you shouldn’t do this often. “I pulled a few all-nighters in college, usually to finish a paper assignment or to study for a test,” Professor Dennis Kinsey said. “My advice to students is ‘do not do this.’ It is not productive. It is bad for you. It makes you cranky (and you will lose friends.)”