Imagine the scene: it’s midnight, you’re on the bottom floor of W.W. Hagerty Library while scrolling through Blackboard Learn, and you see that there’s an assignment due the next morning that you somehow completely forgot about. You grimly look at the instructions for the assignment and immediately ascertain that it will be extremely time consuming, so two options cross your mind — either say goodbye to those eight hours of sleep and do the assignment, or close the laptop, go home and try to forget that the assignment even exists. After a few brief seconds, you pick the first option, knowing that it will be worth the lack of sleep in the long run.
All-nighters are something that I encourage my peers to pull only when absolutely necessary or unavoidable. I highly doubt that anyone likes the idea of not going to sleep and instead staying up to work on something for a class, but just in case you’re considering it at some point, allow me to give you some first-hand advice.
It’s not a good idea. That’s the first thing I want to be very clear about. The all-nighter is one of the most powerful things we have in our tool kit as students, but using it is dangerous, as the after effects can leave you slumped over in class the next day. That being said, it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly when you should or should not pull an all-nighter, but I can tell you that you need to be certain that whatever you’re doing it for is critical to your success in a class, and you have to accept that the next day is going to suck.
If you’ve already had a night where you didn’t go to sleep and instead stayed up studying, then you already know what I’m saying here. It’s not a decision you make lightly, nor is it one that should be done on a regular basis for, what I hope are, very apparent reasons. You’ll also probably know that lots of snacks are required to make it through one of these experiences; otherwise, the success rate is severely diminished.
Something else to consider is how you’re going to stay awake the next day if you have classes. You can’t just treat it like any normal day and go about your business as usual. Believe me, I have tried, and it doesn’t work. If you’re like me and usually miss breakfast, I’d strongly advise getting some that morning. If you can add caffeine into the mix, even better. Sit in the back of your classes if you don’t normally. Yes, it may seem odd, but it’s just a safety precaution in case you fall asleep at your desk. And finally, try to be as active as you possibly can. If you normally go back to your room and watch something on Netflix while you wait for your next class, don’t do this. Instead, keep moving from location to location frequently, or go some place that is noisy, like a busy cafe. And if you have a friend who’s not busy, get them to hang out with you until your next class.
Nothing I say can fully prepare you for an all nighter. It’s something that you just have to experience for yourself to in order to comprehend, but hopefully you’ll never have to experience it, because in my experience, it’s not fun. But if the circumstances are absolutely pressing, I cannot stress enough how important it is to be prepared.