The five commandments for pulling an all-nighter

May 07, 2015
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The clock strikes 11.30pm. You look up from the complete mess of readers, textbooks and other miscellaneous notes, and stare blankly at your laptop screen. For what seems like hours, you’ve only written a measly 35 of a required 2,000 words. With your essay due in nine hours, you begin to rattle off ways you can get away with not submitting your assessment on time. After minutes of useless brainstorming, you come to the conclusion that you’re in this for the long haul and must undertake what truly symbolises desperation at its most raw: an all-nighter. While not ideal, this task is achievable and manageable, and we’ve got five commandments for doing it without sending yourself insane.

Thou shalt not binge on caffeine

I’m not gonna tell you to avoid caffeine because we all know that’s entirely unrealistic. With coffee being perhaps the student’s biggest temptation when an all-nighter is imminent, it’s important to remember that binging on it won’t help at all. Drinking coffee in excess will provide you with a brief burst of alertness and energy, but that will pass soon after and you’ll find yourself asleep on the keys of your laptop. Instead of drinking larger amounts of coffee less often, try and pace your consumption as much as you can. This will keep your mind alert and reduce the strain on your poor nervous system.

Thou shalt study to hardcore \m/

Every one of us has that go-to album or artist that we spin when we’re trying to study. However as far as staying awake goes, I reckon the best route to take is that of hardcore and metal music. While this mightn’t work for everyone, it’s definitely worth a shot. If you aim for instrumental music that’s harsh and perhaps a little arrhythmic, you’ll feel more inclined to stay awake. Feel free to get a couple head bangs in as well if you so desire – a rush of blood to the head might help you stay alert.


Thou shalt quench thy thirst

Drinking water is helpful in any situation, and the all nighter is no exception. Keeping as hydrated as possible will keep you feeling fresh and energised, as well as potentially eliminating any bad taste that coffee you downed 10 minutes earlier left in your mouth. Furthermore, the more water you drink, the more nature will call. Getting up to piss frequently means you’ll be up and moving regularly, and taking breaks from your assessment or study.

Thou shalt check thyself before thou wreck thyself

The easiest way to prevent a spiral into temporary insanity when undertaking an all-nighter is to just take a step back, chill out and assess the situation. While it’s obvious that if you’re in this situation organisation isn’t your strong point, it is 100 per cent worth making a logical plan of what you can get done and stick to that. Having a plan in place will calm you down, make you feel less overwhelmed with the task ahead, and makes everything seem far more achievable.

Thou shalt not be distracted

Easier said than done, I know, but it is ultimately going to be your ticket to success. By whatever means necessary, make sure your eyes don’t wonder to your phone. Reality check: most of your mates probably had better foresight than you, did their assessments early, are currently enjoying a nice night’s sleep, and therefore aren’t available to talk. If you simply keep your motivation up (a potential ‘fail’ mark is always a good motivator), you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve in a night.

Jackson Langford

Jackson is studying a Bachelor of Communication degree at the University of Newcastle and is the rightful heir to the throne.

Image: Svein Halvor Halvorsen, Flickr Creative Commons license

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