Tips To Get You Through An All-Night Study Session
Let’s examine the hot topic of the last-minute, all-night, self-induced study session and share some winning tips to help you make it through the darkness.
Are you among the 60 per cent of all students making procrastination an art form? You know, like, always leaving that assignment to the night before the morning it’s actually due.
It’s a bad habit, but don’t stress. We’ve all been there. In fact, just about everyone I know has an all-nighter story and it generally involves getting the work done at the cost of being a zombie the next day.
The thing is, there are ways around Zombie Student Syndrome. What follows is a list of tips to help you get your work done on time while ensuring you still resemble something like a human on campus in the morning.
The key to a good all-nighter is to be well prepared. For example:
- Take a 2-3 hour afternoon nap. This will keep you refreshed for the bulk of the night – assuming you have actually slept in the past few days – and should give you enough time to finish your assignment while feeling not just awake, but alert.
- Plan you session; don’t just wing it. Do all you can to streamline the process, whether by marking pages in books, highlighting quotes or setting study goals and timeframes. This could be the difference between finishing at 3am or 7am.
- Take breaks. Decide on a non-study activity to occupy 15-20 minutes every hour. This will alleviate study fatigue. However, if those brain cells are really firing and you’re on a roll, keep at it until you’re done. Then that break will feel truly well-earned.
What to avoid
- Drinking coffee and eating sugary foods will only increase levels of anxiety and also dull the creative receptors in the brain. They will make you crash hard and beg for the sweet relief that is sleep. Of course, people always ask “If I can’t have coffee, what can I have?” The answer is cold water. Drink it constantly through the night. Not only does it help wake you up without giving you anxiety, you’re not going to fall asleep if you need to use the toilet. As for food, anything with carbs and proteins is good for all-nighters, but like I say, avoid sugars.
- Dwelling on the same thing. If you are studying for a test, mix up the subject matter in order to keep your mind fresh and engaged. It’s also a good way to discern whether you are actually retaining information. Furthermore, if you’re working on an assignment and find yourself stuck on a particular section, move on. Focusing your mind on fresh material for a while might be all you need. Just don’t forget to go back and finish that section.
- Laying down on the bed, couch or floor. This is an obvious mistake because as soon as you lay down you are telling yourself: “Hey, I want to sleep now.” You need to sit up. If you feel yourself slumping, just walk around for a few minutes before returning to work.
- Having the computer screen too bright. It strains the eyes, causes you to squint, makes it hard to focus and gives you headaches.
- Turning the lights off. Working in the dark is going to make you so tired.
- Listen to some music or have some kind of background noise happening. Nothing too distracting, but some high energy music will help you seriously pump out that assignment.
In the morning
The morning after an all-nighter is very important, because if you can’t focus on the speech you wrote last night or the subject matter at hand, what was the point of staying up all night? Here’s what you should do:
- Take a shower, preferably a cold one, because it will wake you up the best. Meanwhile, drinking a glass of cold water before showering helps lower blood pressure and calms you down for the day ahead.
- Exercise is an excellent way to get your blood flowing and help you forget how tired you are. It’s also usually best before the cold shower.
- Eat a banana. Or a few. Bananas give you energy without the crash generally associated with sugary foods. If you love them enough, eat one banana every hour until you get home and you will be able to pass as a human.
- Take your time. Studies have shown that when you are sleep deprived and feeling crap, your brain gives you additional brain power to survive the day. By taking your time, you will make the most of your brain’s generosity and find you are still able to do most of the things you can when well rested.
- Set an alarm. This is a failsafe just in case you do fall asleep, and there’s no shame in it at all.
- Squeeze and massage your ears. There are acupressure points on your ears and, when stimulated, this send electrical signals to your brain. You’ll feel buzzed immediately.
- Make sure you spread your food intake throughout the night. Snacking keeps the energy going, but big meals will make you want to stop working.
- Some people have suggested to me that watching scary stuff in your hourly break will keep you awake. One even compiled a suspenseful mix of atmospheric sounds from horror movies. Hey, if it works for you, then that’s great.
The last word
Remember, pulling an all-nighter isn’t something we recommend and it should only be attempted when completely unavoidable. However, by following these tips you may minimise some of the damage.
Frankly, it’s much more sensible to plan your work schedule, do it gradually, smoothly and diligently, thus avoiding the perils of procrastination.
Now get some sleep!
Thanks for reading.
Layne Ngatai-Stokes, Bachelor of Music, Griffith University