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Dos and Don’ts for Pulling a Finals All-Nighter

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Posted on December 8, 2014 by Delaware Valley College.

While staying up all night before an important final exam isn’t the best option, sometimes it’s necessary when your schedule is crowded with papers and tests. If you’re one of the many college students preparing for a final exam all-nighter, these dos and don’ts will help you successfully stay up all night (or most of the night) with the least amount of backlash.

Let’s start with the don’ts: 

• Don’t pull back-to-back all-nighters. It’s important that you don’t stay up all night to study one night after another. While your intentions may be good—to study and get good grades—you’ll get the opposite result. It’s okay to skip a night of sleep every now and then when absolutely necessary, but doing it over and over again can be detrimental to your health. Make sure you reserve this desperate measure for desperate times and fully recover from one sleepless night before attempting another. 

• Don’t drink caffeine until you need it most, and don’t drink it throughout the day. If you plan to stay up all night, don’t drink caffeine during the day. This can cause you to crash early and make it even more difficult to stay up all night. Drink a double shot of espresso or tap into your energy drink stash when you need it most: as you start to get sleepy. 

• Don’t get comfortable. Don’t wear your pajamas, study in your bed or wrap a blanket around you. These comfy elements will make you feel great, but they’ll also make you feel sleepy. Wear clothes that you wear to class during the day, including shoes, and sit at a table or desk in a chair.

Now that you know what not to do, here are some dos to help you out:

• Do bring your friends. While a large group of friends may not make for a great study session, a few friends can be just what you need to stay motivated, focused and awake. Gather in a lounge with tables or desks, play some motivational music and share in some caffeine boosts. Make sure to avoid too many distractions, but a few breaks to chat can help you stay awake longer. Bonus points if you’re studying for the same exam. 

• Do break up studying with some exercise. Do a few jumping jacks or push-ups or go for a quick walk or jog. Exercise will get your get your blood pumping and wake you up. Just make sure you don’t exert too much energy or you’ll end up tiring yourself out and falling asleep. 

• Do get enough sleep the next day. The best time to pull an all-nighter is when your schedule is light the next day. If you have to turn in a paper at 8 a.m., stay up all night writing it, turn in your paper, then get to sleep right after. Staying up all night when you have a day full of important exams is rarely a good idea. You’ll be better off sleeping for a few hours than if you’re exhausted all day. 

So the next time you have to stay up all night, try these tips to make the most of it. Just be sure to eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep afterward to avoid getting sick. Good luck on your exams, maybe Mom and Dad will even send you a study survival package!