How To Pull A Successful All-Nighter In College

The semester is coming to an end and with it may follow some nights where you get very limited sleep and even some all-nighters. Maybe you were warned about the dreaded all-nighter before coming to college. Maybe you’ve already pulled three all-nighters this semester. Pulling an all-nighter isn’t the worst thing you could do in college, but it still isn’t something that’s desired (unless you’re weird like me and want to pull an all-nighter just to see what it’s like). It’s like that thing you do when all else fails, or something like that.

All-nighters are physically demanding and they’re also not good for focusing the next day. Sometimes, you might feel like staying up all night is the only way you can cut your mountain of work in half.If you really need to pull one, though, it’s best to do it if your work load the following day is really light (so you don’t exhaust yourself), and if you haven’t stayed up all night recently. With that in mind, here’s how you can make your all-nighter as successful as possible:

1. Find a spot with a lot of outlets.

If you aren’t studying in your room, make sure you can snag a spot close to outlets in your favorite study place. This pretty much means that if it’s finals week you’ll have to try to arrive there as early as you can to even get a seat. You wouldn’t want your phone or laptop dying on you in the middle of your study session — this is a one-way ticket to cutting things short and not being able to finish your work.

2. Dress in layers.

You want to make sure that you aren’t burning up and you’re not freezing cold. I personally can’t focus if I’m cold (I feel like sleeping!) so I’m always sure to bundle up with sweaters so I can focus when I study. Layering is your best bet so you can always remove clothes and put them on as needed. Just make yourself as comfortable as you can.

3. Play music that really puts you in the zone. 

If you can work with music on, listen to something that can really get your blood pumping and really push you to keep working. Sometimes silence can be so boring, so music is a good way to entertain your mind while also allowing you to stay focused. Check out my study session playlist for some great suggestions!


4. Stay hydrated.

Drink lots of water throughout your all-nighter. It’s a good idea to keep a refillable bottle with you, plus if you have to get up to go to the water fountain to fill it up again this is a good way to take tiny breaks in between the material. Water is just so refreshing. I love drinking iced water because I feel so much more alert when I do.

5. Don’t drown yourself in coffee.

You’ll honestly probably just be jittery half the time if you only drink coffee all night. Having some is okay but don’t overdo it. Pro tip: it takes coffee about two hours to really kick in; you don’t feel instantly wide awake when you drink it. If you know that 3a.m. is the time when you usually start getting sleepy, have some coffee around 1a.m. so you can power through for another couple of hours.

6. Have easy access to a bathroom.

With all the liquids you’ll be drinking, you’ll need to be able to use a bathroom when you really need to. If you have to walk up four flights of stairs just to get to a bathroom, you may need to rethink your study location. Sure, the exercise is a great way to keep you alert, but it’s not so great when you really, really have to pee and can’t hold it any longer.

7. Take breaks.

If you can’t possibly memorize another formula without a break, take one! Take a few minutes to peruse through Instagram, retweet a few things, and watch cute puppy videos on Facebook. You can set a timer on your phone if you don’t trust yourself to only take a 10-minute break.

8. Wash your face.

Washing your face is really refreshing, and it’s an easy thing you can do to try to keep your eyes open. If you’re in your room, you can even give yourself a mini spa treatment while you work. Apply your favorite face mask and keep it on while you work. When it dries, wash it off and you’ll feel extra refreshed (and your skin will be glowing!).

9. Avoid “closing your eyes just for a minute.”

Usually when I say this, I end up napping for a whole hour and then I wake up to put my books away…and I just go to bed. Sound familiar? Some people are able to nap, wake up, and get back to business. If this doesn’t sound like you then you should try to avoid napping during your all-nighter — the point of having one is to actually stay up!

10. Sleep early the following night.

Pulling an all-nighter means that you’re already screwing with your sleep pattern, so make sure you can get enough sleep the next night to kind of put things back on track. Don’t pull multiple all-nighters in a row. This is just asking for trouble (and possibly a low grade on your test or paper).

What are your tips for pulling an all-nighter?

Related posts: How To Have A Productive Library Study Session

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Jasmin - Macarons & Mascara

  • Living in Full Bloom

    All-nighters aren’t fun! These are great tips even if you’re just staying up super late and still getting some sleep! I always struggle with “I’ll just take a quick nap and wake up refreshed”, because I never actually get back up and do what I’m supposed to! Great tips Jasmin 🙂

    • Thank you so much, so glad you liked it! Haha, I always have a good chuckle about it the next day with my roommate! I suck at doing work late at night so I definitely wish anyone attempting it the best of luck. =)

  • Those are great tips! I’ve never pulled an all-nighter before (though I did end up going to bed at 2AM before I hadn’t finished a paper), and I hope I’ll never have too! I love sleeping way too much, haha.

    • Honestly, the best way to pull an all-nighter is to not have one in the first place! Haha, my freshman year of college I used to go to bed so late because my roommates were doing it and they seemed to be so productive, but getting your sleep feels so much better, haha!