I’m sure most of you have pulled fun-filled all-nighters before. Maybe you stayed up all night watching movies, playing video games, laser-tagging with the Student Government, or generally causing mischief. Easy enough. I could pull a Lord of the Rings all-nighter in my sleep. Metaphorically.
But staying up isn't as easy when you're writing a paper for hours on end and your bed is two rooms away and it’s 4 in the morning and you’re ¾ of the way done writing a paper about the Soviet avant garde of the 1930’s, and sporcle is challenging you to name the top 200 most-mentioned characters in Harry Potter. Here's how to get through it.
Step One: Caffeinate. Of course. I don’t know what kind of person would dare attempt an all-night homework extravaganza without the assistance of liquid energy. The trick is getting the amount right: too little, and you won’t make it past 2; too much, and you’ll be reduced to a shaking fiend able to feel the pulse in your eyelid, and able focus on absolutely everything except what you’re supposed to be working on. My preferred poison takes the form of chocolate-covered espresso beans—a tip from my dad from from his school days. (I still refuse to believe that my father was anything less than the model student—there’s no WAY he would actually have to stay up late to finish homework.) These things are incredible. Have two to five of them, and you’ll be set. NEVER eat more than 10ish in a night, though—hat’s just asking for an ulcer. Another option for those who don’t like ulcers: drink lots of water. I mean lots. If you have to pee, you tend to not be as sleepy.
Step Two: Stay focused. If you don’t get your caffeine balance right, you’ll probably end up either staring blankly at your work for ages, or watching all the youtube videos. You heard me. All of them. It’s so easy to get into the “I have like 5 hours before this is due, which gives me plenty of time to explore the Ray Brown Trio collaboration with Gene Harris on a cover of Summertime” mindset. Once you start listening to covers of Summertime, you know you’re royally screwed—according to the ever-helpful Wikipedia, there are some 24,400 recordings of that song. It’s just so hard to go from the soulful swing of Ray Brown to an attempt at analyzing Soviet photomontage propaganda.
Step Three: Take the occasional break. Yes, I know this sounds like a contradiction of step two, but there’s a big difference between a 5-minute walk and 2 hours of easy jazz. These quick strolls will wake you up better than any caffeine—I promise. Especially if it’s cold outside. Below zero is preferable. During finals week last semester, one memorable night was punctuated by alternating short-distance sprints (yes, sprints; I’m pretty sure nobody saw me), and carefree leaps into snow banks. If you don’t happen to have a snow bank handy, a set of curl ups is always a good option.
Ginger’s Song of the Week: If you enjoy jazz AT ALL, you’ll probably recognize this as a pure mastery of the art. If you don’t enjoy jazz at all… well… I pray for your soul.
Have you ever pulled an all-nighter?
Related post: Songs to Pull You Through an All-Nighter