- In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. Theodore Roosevelt
Pull an All-Nighter
Make sure the reason for the all-nighter is worth it or unavoidable
You should not stay up all night just because you need to study; your sleep is the time when memories of studies and activities from the day before are properly processed and denying yourself sleep can make you both memory impoverished and lacking in the energy needed to succeed. In most cases, it is always better to stay up for a good length of time but then you should get some rest.
If you have decided that an all-nighter is the only solution, then start preparing
For example, your boss may be demanding those garments be completed before the fashion show, the numbers crunched before the foreclosure meeting, or you have a major project due the next day.
Try to take a short afternoon nap, so you have more energy during the night
If at all possible, make this a two to three hour nap as this will allow for good rest. During the actual night, set a timer if you're going to nap. Don't nap for more than 20 minutes during the all-nighter itself, and stay half-awake. Be aware that napping during the night could lead to you to staying asleep, so it's best avoided. The afternoon nap should suffice to see you through.
Watch something that will keep you awake
What keeps you awake at night? Scary movies, whodunnit thrillers, dance competitions? Choose whatever excites and invigorates your senses to try to create wide awake feelings. Just be careful that you don't get too distracted by the movie or show to get your work done! Get scared. Sure, it sounds silly, but try it. Watch a horror movie or read something frightening. You'll be too scared to fall asleep. This is best used when you're at the end of the night and need to get through that last little bit, and make sure the movie goes straight to the action; it's easy to fall asleep in dull moments. Do not do this if there is work to be finished, though!
Do your work
Given your flagging energy and desire to go to sleep, you may get sidetracked as the night wears on depending how well "in the flow" you become. Avoid a flagging sense of energy and motivation by setting a constant pace for yourself: For example, try 40 to 55 minutes of work, and taking a 5 to 20 minute break, or perhaps a quick walk around outside in a safe and well lit area. Keeping your mind occupied should make it easier to stay awake, so try to leave the work that you find most interesting or easiest for the later part of the night.
Play hardcore metal music
You may not enjoy it, but it must be, at all costs, harsh and a bit arrhythmic. Try to stick to instrumental music, which is less distracting. This will keep you from being lulled to sleep. If others are sleeping around you, clearly you'll need to keep the level of the music low. Use earphones if necessary.
Work with the windows open
Cold air will help to keep you awake, while warm air knocks you out. Think of the nights you can't sleep for cold feet compared to the nights when the cozy warmth of a room causes you to nod off. If you find the cold air is effective in keeping you awake, you can even go to the bathroom and splash your face with cold water. Not everyone improves their alertness in cold air and feels slovenly in warm air. For some people, it works the other way around. Obviously, choose whatever works for you best.
Set your computer screen to a lower setting, (duller and darker) so as not to strain your eyes
Eye-strain is caused by excessive tiredness, reading in bad light, or staring at computer screens for long periods of time. Take a break from reading or computers every ten minutes, simply by turning your head and looking around the room for a few seconds, focusing on something far away for a change. If you're using Microsoft Word, you can set the screen to blue with white text in the Tools > Options > General menu. This helps reduce eye strain. If you're using Emacs, you can change the background color with M-x set-background-color. This helps reduce eye strain. Specially designed software, such as f.lux, is available to Windows and Mac users to automatically adjust your screen to adapt to the time of the day and avoid light strain. The program works great, but one thing to keep in mind is that it works as a "Blue Blocker" to allow melatonin to be produced in your brain which aids sleeping. Keep the light on. It's hard to stay awake when you're in a nice, dark room.
Do not work in bed, on a couch, or on the floor
If you work in any other place than a cold, hard table and chair, you will feel very tempted to sleep and the more comfortable the location, the worse you'll feel. If possible, work somewhere far away from your sleeping area or bed, so that it's an effort to go back and sleep. Try to be around some other people, too, so that you do not feel comfortable sleeping in your chair. Careful of slumping! When you're tired, slumping your body becomes a natural habit. However, make yourself sit up straight. It increases your state of alertness and helps you to feel better. Try reading standing up (use a music stand/top of a low bookcase or side buffet, etc.) as other ways to maintain your posture. If you have one, try sitting and bouncing on an exercise ball. It is nearly impossible to fall asleep then, but make sure to not do it to much as to where you get nauseous and can't think. Try sitting in different places around the room. Squeeze and massage your ears. There are acupressure points on your ears, and when stimulated, send electrical signals into your brain. You'll feel buzzed immediately. Still feeling tired? Lie on your back on a hard surface and hug your knees to your chest. This will help awaken you. Don't lay in bed with your eyes closed. You will fall asleep, falling into a crazed dream state in which you convince yourself that it has all been done already...
Thoughts such as: "I am almost done," "This is actually not too bad," "I will get to see the sunrise," "I will get a good grade" or "I will wow the board in the morning with these finished statistics charts" can definitely help. If you're tired and bored of studying the same thing over and over again, remain positive. You can even try to make a game out of it so studying won't be so strenuous and dull.Try even singing a song of what you're doing and while you write out the sums.
Be careful with creative thoughts
As the night wears on, you may start to fall into a daydream state where you think about what you'd rather be doing, where you'd rather be and how nice and comfortable things could be if only you weren't there. Don't write poetry or quietly sing songs, draw, or even play with your hair while daydreaming. These can lull you into sleepiness. Don't think about anything luxurious, such as being in a mansion or in a hot tub, you will feel relaxed. If you have to daydream, think of scary things like being trapped in an uncomfortable room before the chopping block.
If you have time at the end of the night, Try to catch at least a few winks
First, pack up your stuff in readiness for taking with you, lay out your clothes in readiness for slipping on quickly, then set your alarm as late as possible in order to achieve the most possible sleep. Just be sure it's loud and perhaps even have another household member to check that you've actually woken up and stepped out of bed.
Consider going to bed early and getting up early instead of pulling an all-nighter
This is often a lot kinder to your system than an all-nighter, although you will probably still feel bleary-eyed and tired because it's a change in routine. However, it may be a better way to getting things done and crashing mid-afternoon the next day instead. If you have a test in the morning you should not stay up all night just because you need to study. Remember that you also need your sleep which is even more important. Stay up for a good length of time but then you should get some rest. Realize if you're "hitting the wall" and you can't even remember what you just read or you're nodding off involuntarily. Sometimes it's better to get four hours of sleep and cram what you can in the morning rather than be in a complete dreamworld for the test.