All-night study or revision sessions are part and parcel of the student stereotype and it's rare that a student gets through their entire sixth-form and university life without pulling at least one crazed night of intense work before a big exam or essay deadline.
However, pulling an all-nighter is not something you should be making a habit of. Lack of sleep is really bad for your body and repeated lack of sleep can have some long-term negative health effects.
But, if you know you’re going to have to do it – and it should be a last resort, not your actual plan! – what’s the best way to go about it? Here's our advice...
Target Select and Important Information
Accept immediately that you can’t cram in everything and make some informed decisions as to what you think will be the most valuable things to learn. This might mean learning a few things from lots of different areas or learning a couple of things in depth, depending on the subject you study and the module at hand.
Make a decision and stick with it. Don’t panic half way through the night and try and cram everything in; you might as well just go to sleep instead.
Leave the Caffeine Alone
All-nighter revision sessions and caffeine go hand in hand for most students, but you’ll have a much smoother ride if you resist the coffee and energy drinks, especially if you’re going into an exam the next day.
Too much caffeine can make you feel jittery and unpleasant or can lead to caffeine crashes, which is exactly what you don’t want. Plus, caffeine doesn’t really keep you awake in a useful way – you don’t exactly feel fresh and energised at four in the morning no matter how much Red Bull you’ve guzzled. It’s true that the caffeine will keep your brain awake, but it’s unlikely it will improve the standard of your work.
Instead, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the night. Proper hydration is far more likely to make you feel fresh and awake. You should have a glass of water on your desk at all times.
Leave the Sugar Alone
In this situation, food is fuel; make sure you eat the right kind of fuel. Sugar sweets and chocolate are like caffeine – they might seem like a great idea at the start but they will ultimately lead to a sugar crash.
Eat stuff that will keep you going at a steady pace: nuts, fruit, and raw veg with dips. These kinds of slow energy release snacks provide you with the habitual act of chewing, which can help keep you focused and awake but won’t flood your body with unhelpful stuff.
Nuts have protein in (which help build amino acids to keep you alert), and fruits will provide you with natural sugars to give you energy (without the downer that follows a chocolate overload).
Don’t Work in Bed, on the Floor or on a Sofa
If you start your all-nighter in bed, I’m going to wager that you’re not all that committed (which is fine, by the way). If you do actually want to stay up all night, make sure you work at a desk or in a position which won’t induce sleepiness.
Get a All-Night Study Buddy
There will be someone else on your course doing the same thing as you. One good way to get through the experience of pulling an all-nighter is to have someone share the pain with you. Find out who they are and keep in touch via social media to keep motivation going.
Make a Schedule - With Breaks
It might seem a little late to make a plan, but putting together a schedule for the night will calm you down, make you feel less panicked and give you focus. Make it at the start and commit to it entirely. Then all you need to do is go through the motions of what you’ve outlined.
Try and Get Some Sleep at Some Point
We all know that all-nighters don’t always last all night. When you hit a wall or you’ve only got a few hours to go try and get at least some sleep. Adrenaline will get you through the actual exam but your body will be very grateful if you’ve given it a helping hand by getting a few hours (much needed) kip.
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