Ask LH: How Can I Pull An All-Nighter?

Hi Lifehacker, How can I pull off an all-nighter? Any tips? Thanks, Sleep When I'm Dead

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Dear SWID,

What will you be doing during this all-nighter? Are you studying? Partying? Working the graveyard shift? All these activities require you to pace yourself in completely different ways.

I used to be a night auditor at the Blue Mountains' Fairmont Resort. I found that a mid-shift stroll in the icy pre-dawn air helped to recharge my batteries. This is unlikely to be as effective in hotter climates, but that's what air conditioning is for.

Regulating my caffeine intake also helped to give a little energy boost when I needed it. However, it's important not to overdo it, especially when it comes to caffeine supplements like No-Doze. I once downed a handful of tablets in one go which led to heart-palpitations and uncontrollable shivering. In other words, don't be an idiot like me.

Other tried-and-proven methods that will keep you awake longer include drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding lulls in mental and physical activity, engaging in quick power naps, avoiding dim lighting and ensuring you get a decent amount of sleep the night before.

There are also a range of emergency tactics you can employ at the moment lethargy sets in -- sniffing peppermint oil, pulling down on your earlobes, rubbing the back of your hand between your thumb and index finger and chewing gum are all supposed to help. You can find more sleep-evading tips via this previous Ask LH post.

With that said, we'd strongly advise against making this a regular habit unless it's completely unavoidable. Various scientific studies have shown that sleep deprivation messes with human metabolism and can encourage poor dieting habits. Basically, the less you sleep, the more weight you gain. If it's not essential to paying the bills, don't do it!

See also: How To Be A Highly Productive Night Owl | Ask LH: How Can I Get Used To Working The Night Shift? | Stay Awake With These Techniques | Sleeping Like Superman: Can I Survive For A Month Sleeping Two Hours A Day?

Cheers Lifehacker

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    I've always found that the key is to maintain momentum, which the article expresses as "avoiding lulls in mental and physical activity." As long as you are *doing* something which requires a certain amount of active thought, staying awake isn't terribly difficult.

    One thing I would add: If you're looking at spending some time on something which is not particularly active, such as watching TV or reading a book, ensure that it's something not entirely within your comfort zone. If you normally watch SF, try a drama or comedy series set more conventionally. If you watch a lot of drama, watch a comedy or a dumb blockbuster instead. The familiar lulls. The unfamiliar requires you to think and interpret more, and so is more likely to keep you awake.

    Of course, it helps if it's both unfamilar *and* good...

    Working night shift at the emergency department, I find it safer and also much more comfortable staying up all night the night before my first night shift. This would be doing something simple (e.g. finishing off a season of Game of Thrones) so that I would be ready for a sleep the next morning. Otherwise, many other doctors and nurses use very short courses (1-2 days) of temazepam or promethazine during day sleeps.

    Avoid late night activities at all cost, unless you want to die early.

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