How to pull an all-nighter, a rarely told, but powerful secret
I regularly work nights. I also have been pulling all nighters for the past twenty years, so I’ve gotten my method fairly down to a science. I don’t recommend doing this all the time and I do want to express the importance of sleep. However, when push comes to shove, sometimes you just have to stay up all night. Additionally, I also want to warn against using all nighters to memorize anything; it won’t work, so don’t try it. All nighters should strictly be used for work that you have to get done, but don’t have to think too much about to get to the finish. The reason for this should be obvious, but as the hours wear on, your mind starts to go. Many people have approached me after I’ve had a grueling night and asked, “how do you do it?” After this, you’ll know.
The first thing you need to do is prepare yourself for the hell that awaits you. If you don’t prepare, you will fail. You need food, water, milk, and your favorite caffeinated beverage. I’d recommend a multivitamin in there too. For the food, you want to do want your body knows it will love, but stay away from sweets, as the sugar will make you crash. If you are going to eat protein rich foods, I highly advise you to avoid eating them with the milk, as your body can not process dairy and protein at the same time. Lastly, if you intend to go outside after you are done, I highly advise you to get a pair of sunglasses and headphones or ear plugs.
Step 2: Schedule
After you have all your food and nutrients lined up, you need to make an easy schedule. Start with the end, i.e. the time you are going to crash, then work your way back to the start. Schedule in a five to ten minute break every hour to two hours just to get up and walk around, or something similar. Half way between the start and finish, schedule in a set time to take the multivitamin.
If you are a beginner, I do not recommend you stay up longer than thirty six hours. If you are more advanced, I do not recommend you stay up longer than seventy hours. I recall reading that the government states mental insanity can be declared after seventy two hours with no sleep, but you don’t want to hit that. For those that have pushed themselves hard, you know things start getting strange way before seventy two hours.
Above all, know your limits. If you push yourself too far too long, you could die.
Step 3: Start Early
Knowing your regular sleep time is very important to this process. The reason is: if you know when your body is going to be tired, you can stop it. This takes timing and preparation, but it is not an exact science. Alternatively, if you want to get a better night’s sleep, start going to bed at exactly the same time.
Once you know when your normal sleep time is, you need to start the process well before that point. If you are on the fence and trying to decide if you should go to sleep or not and are going to try to stay up longer, don’t. Go to sleep at that point. The focus here is you need some lead time to trick your body into forgetting that this is the time you normally go to sleep. I recommend starting at least two hours prior to your normal sleep time.
Step 4: Hit the cycle
You have your schedule and preparations done by this point, so you are ready to start. You are going to start with the caffeinated beverage of your choice. Drink it now. Then, thirty minutes later, drink some milk. Then, another thirty minutes later, drink some water. You are going to keep this cycle for the whole night, but increase the wait times by a minute to five minutes each hour. If you choose coffee or a caffeinated beverage that is high in caffeine, make sure to pace yourself. It’s okay to skip a serving of caffeine any time in this process, as it’s a drug, thus you can overdose. If you start feeling jittery or shaky, you’ve had too much and you need to slow down now. If you skip it, drink water instead. The human body processes caffeine differently for each person. Some people can process a cup of coffee in a hour, some it takes four. Once you are in this cycle, it should be easy to stay up well past your normal bed time, as the caffeine will not let your brain know it is tired.
Step 5: Keep Focus
This is the hardest part of pulling an all-nighter. You have to keep focus. If you find your mind drifting or you want to go to sleep, stand up, walk around, get the blood pumping, and then get back to work. As the hours pass and it gets more difficult to stay awake, remind yourself of how much you have done and how little you have left to accomplish. Focusing on your goal will make this process a lot easier.
When you reach the multivitamin point, take it. Your body normally is restoring itself at this point of the night and here you are running it into the ground. The multivitamin will help to make sure you don’t feel massively groggy; the water will only help you. The more hydrated you are through out the night, the easier this process will be. I’d also recommend eating some protein around this point too, but make sure it has amino acids in it. The amino acids will aid your body in rebuilding the muscle tissue.
The closer you get to the finish, the more it is okay to reward yourself. Just make sure you get everything done that you said you were going to get done.
Once you have finished all the work you needed and the all-nighter is complete, it is time for you to crash. Sleep somewhere close to where you were working, or have some one come pick you up, if driving, or help you home. Once you get to your sleeping location of choice, sleep and don’t wake up until your body is fully rested.
Lastly, if you drive and you will need to drive home or to the location to sleep, don’t drive. Sleep in your car with the window cracked, or have some one drive you, like I said above. Driving tired is more dangerous than driving drunk. You could hurt yourself or even another innocent driver, if you do get behind the wheel. Don’t believe me? Every year doctors lose their lives because they pushed themselves too far and get in a car wreck on their way home. I know a few people that this has happened to, so heed my words.