How to Stay Up Late

How to Stay Up Late

Before You Start

Have reasonable expectations. Sleep is vital for your brain's functioning. Studies have shown that you can go without it, in the short term, but will struggle with attention, memory, and critical thinking. That means that you will likely be able to, say, study for a big test or do routine tasks at the workplace. However, you won't perform as well as you do with a good night's sleep. While staying up late, try to avoid driving or operating heavy equipment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driving while drowsy contributes to at least 72,000 car crashes each year. Don't become part of this statistic.

Tips and Tricks to Stay Up Late

Manage Your Environment

  • Keep it bright. Light will help quiet your body clock that insists it's time to rest. If it's daytime, get out into the sunlight. If it's night, sit in the brightest room of your house.
  • Repeat your morning routine. Brush your teeth, get dressed in your work clothes, and have a cup of coffee. All of these can trick your body into thinking it's morning.
  • Avoid sleep triggers. A TV in the background, quiet music, or reading a relaxing book can all lull you to sleep.

Stay Physically and Mentally Active

  • Get out of the chair. Walk to the water cooler, jog in place, or do some dynamic stretches. This will increase blood flow in the body and help you feel more alert. Aim for a 5 minute activity break every hour.
  • Change your focus. Concentrating on one task for a long time is tiring even under the best of circumstances, while a change of pace perks up your mental interest. See if you can alternate between two different projects.

Food and Drink

  • Use caffeine wisely. Caffeinated beverages are a staple for sleepy people around the world. However, chugging it will give you a quick, hard burst of energy and an abrupt energy crash. Instead, sip it throughout the day for a more stable increase in energy.
  • Cut back on sugar. It spikes your blood glucose levels, giving you a short-lived surge of energy with a deep crash.
  • Eat light. Many sleep-deprived people experience food cravings, but a big meal will make you drowsy. Instead, try having a small snack every few yours. Try a balance of slow-digesting fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Other Techniques

  • Take a cold shower. It won't feel good, but an unpleasantly chilly shower floods your body with adrenaline, giving you a short-term surge in energy.
  • Try a mini-nap. Napping for 20-30 minutes can boost mental performance. This length of time is long enough that it can give you some mental clarity, but short enough that you won't slip into dreams and wake up groggier than ever.

After Staying Awake All Night

For a few days, you may experience trouble falling asleep or waking at your usual time. That's normal. You can help your body work through its sleep deficit with a few easy changes. Go to bed a little earlier than usual each night, sleep on a supportive  memory foam mattress, and wake up each morning at your usual time. Before you know it, you'll be waking up alert and energized again.

Updated: 09/13/2019