Pulling an all-nighter is a rite of passage that separates procrastinators from those students who study and write papers in a timely fashion. The root of most procrastination is perfectionism. OR laziness. Or both. But generally, even if a paper is due the next day, a procrastinating perfectionist won't even get started until late into the night, because he/she lacks the inspiration to write that perfect paper. Inspiration and desperation, at a certain hour, become interchangeable. So by about 3am, the wheels of creativity turn out 7-10 pages, double spaced. So what if it has 1.5" margins and is in Courier, the largest font known to TrueType or Postscript fonts?


While all-nighters can be essential for paper-writing, they are actually counter-productive for most types of studying. If someone knows the material fairly well, and pulls an all-nighter to perfect their knowledge, their ensuing loss of mental clarity due to lack of sleep probably more-than-offsets their increased knowledge due to a night of studying. However, this can produce a net gain, if the student never actually went to class.


For a list of places to procure performance-enhancing consumables late at night / early in the morning, see the Night Time page.


Unlike caffeine and other energy boosters, sugar has never been scientifically proven to give someone more energy than other carbohydrate rich foods (i.e. pasta) for even a short period of time ([WWW]"sugar does not make kids hyper story"). However, some students still claim that sugar, if consumed in regular intervals, will keep you energized and awake. However, if you fail to continually introduce sugar into your body, you will quickly become sleepy. Essentially, your body reacts to a large dose of sugar by raising your insulin levels, which has the direct effect of fatigue and lethargy.


Caffeine is an essential part of maintaining the all-nighter. Unlike sugar, it can keep you going all night without the risk of sudden fatigue. However one must be mindful of the caffeine source. If someone drinks REGULAR soda, such as Mountain Dew or Coke, they run the risk of an insulin surge once the sugar is metabolized. This CAN (although not necessarily) be dramatic enough an effect to offset the caffeine. Some people describe the insulin versus caffeine reaction as "very alert tiredness." Diet soda, however, does not contain sugar. While it tastes somewhat gross, if you drink it somewhat regularly, your taste buds will desensitize to its sharp aftertaste. Another trick is to squeeze lemon or lime into your diet soda — you can also buy a bottle of RealLemon or RealLime. What matters with caffeine is that you use it consistently. While this might not apply to an essay or project, it does for exams. If you study with caffeine, take the test with caffeine. Don't stay up studying with coffee and then take the test without it.

Sugar-free caffeine sources


Though it sounds bizarre, one way to quickly get your endorphins pumping and your adrenaline shooting through your body is to exercise. Going on a quick jog for about 15 minutes can get you wired for awhile, and make it difficult to fall asleep even if you try. A jog followed by an energy drink or another dose of caffeine can leave you wired for hours. This is also a great way to wake yourself up if you catch yourself falling asleep as the words in your reading become blurred, or you are making multiple typos in your attempt for the perfect paper. Be careful: know your limits. If you are extremely out of shape, then maybe try an 8 minute jog or so. Whatever you do, don't go for an intense workout that will tire you out, just one that will keep you on your toes.


A Quick Nap is theoretically possible. Some all-night avatars can actually take 45 minute power naps so they can sustain themselves all night without the use of additives. However, most people cannot do this. This ultimately causes people to sleep through alarms and miss finals, deadlines and other horrible consequences. This ultimately results in claims of rare, spontaneous illnesses and the [WWW]death of grandparents quarter after quarter. Food poisoning is a popular one, due to its unprovable nature. (Some purists claim that even a short nap takes away the honorable designation of pulling an all-nighter.)

Advice and commentary

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2004-12-18 23:10:18   This most recent finals I had an evil teacher who had an eight page paper the same day we had a final at 8am, and I swear to god I fell asleep AND STARTED DREAMING in the middle of writing a sentence - the last half of the sentence was my dream and had nothgin to do with what I intended to write about..!! - KrisFricke

All nighters can be really valuable for getting things done, but make sure what you're staying up for is due the next day. Many have fallen ill to pointless all nighers! This is especially likely to happen if you skip class a lot.

2005-06-11 02:46:39   All nighter? A piece of cake for Design students!!! we do that a lot. It's fun... only if you like to design stuff. —DingLiu

One trick I use for staying awake during those late nights is chewing peppermint gum. Peppermint is a natural stimulant, and it works if you need to wake up quickly. I also use Burt's Bees lip balm (with peppermint) regularly. —AnnaHamilton

2006-02-14 17:03:21   Under 30 minutes or above 3 hours- any amount of sleep in the middle just makes you groggy. Of course, the accidental all-nighter is best: absorbed in the material or working in the studio, you realize it's starting to get light outside and you're ravenously hungry. —TorreyaCummings

2006-03-17 06:24:06   Thanks for the Advice....This week has been a string of All Nighters for me, and as its 6:15 am right now, you can see that I just finished one. Luckily i slept from 5am to 5pm yesterday, giving me the energy to be awake from 5 to 6... —MaxMikalonis

2007-02-07 02:19:17   I had more all-nighters than sleep nights in high school. College is awesome, I sleep more. This is only my 4th all nighter but it's hard to keep track sometimes...I heart calculus. —GregWebb

2008-03-23 00:44:44   Brief exercise works really well for me. —JoFeuerstein

2008-03-23 00:48:27   If you study with caffeine, take the test with caffeine. — Funny, I first heard that with regards to harder drugs. —JoFeuerstein

2008-05-06 06:08:22   I'm on one right now. The sun is coming up and I feel fine, and all I've had is some Powerade. I think the trick is that when you feel yourself drifting away, indulge yourself, but only for a short nap. I crashed at 2 and awoke at 3 feeling refreshed, and I still am. But I guess I won't know how effective this session has been until the test, which is still over four hours away. —RichardYeh

2008-07-12 13:14:36   I once stayed awake for 5 days in order to get a project done. My friends told me that I was going insane and forced me to sleep. I found afterward that I had been talking to inanimate objects and the conversation was less then coherent. —SunjeetBaadkar

2009-11-19 00:12:36   My all nighters tend to include drinking and smoking... My teachers always complain about the "Flow" of my papers, but I find they flow quite freely. —JamesM

2012-09-10 17:21:54   [WWW]

See Uberman. Maximum effectiveness. —RYN3O

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