15 Ways To Avoid Feeling Sleepy When You Need To Pull An All-Nighter

Whatever you do, don't close your eyes.

tired person at the computer Fulltimegipsy / Shutterstock

Remember when you were at your best friend's slumber party in middle school and the coolest thing to do was to pull an all-nighter? Now, as an adult, if we say we pulled an all-nighter, we either get comments like, “Wow! Must have been some party!” or, “How are you even standing right now?”

Sometimes, we naturally just stay up late because of worry or anxiety, or we just can’t seem to shut our brains off. You find yourself lying in your bed at 4 a.m. Googling things like “How big is Justin Timberlake’s big toe?” or “What does cat food taste like?”


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But instead of trying to keep yourself awake, knowing how to stay up all night is simple!

Here are 15 ways to stay awake all night.

1. Eat a big healthy breakfast.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You’ve heard it all before. But studies have shown that eating a nice big breakfast improves your concentration, which will help you in staying awake throughout the day.


You’ll feel more alert mentally and physically hours after you’ve had your stack of pancakes and scrambled eggs. Eating a meal with loads of protein in it will aid in your endurance, fight off fatigue and give you a boost of energy.

You'll have a greater chance of pulling an all-nighter if you can pull an all-dayer (not a word, but you get it).

2. Stay cold.

Cranking up the air conditioning in your room will ensure you stay awake because being warm is being cozy, and being cozy, well... next thing you know you’re passed out and drooling.

You can also take advantage of the cold by taking a cold shower. This will definitely wake you right up if you feel overly tired. It's especially true if you have been staring at your laptop for hours. Cold water will help soothe your tired eyes and wake you right back up.


3. Steer clear from alcohol.

Drinking alcohol or other depressants is a good way to put you to sleep. If you're trying to stay awake all night, keep in mind that there's a likely chance you'll be sleepy at a much quicker rate with alcohol in your system.

4. Get enough sleep beforehand.

If you know you're going to pull an all-nighter — for school, work, or whatever the reason — be sure you don't have any sleep debt. This means that if you're already tired, you'll have a more difficult time staying awake.

You might also try taking a short 20-minute nap, as this can make you feel more focused and decrease sleepiness.

5. Drink coffee.

Anything with caffeine in it will surely keep you awake. This stimulant's effects can last for around six hours! Make yourself a hot cup of coffee or espresso. If you’re not a coffee drinker, try a sweet herbal caffeinated tea with lemon and honey.


Just be sure you don't overdo it on the caffeine, as this can lead to insomnia over time.

6. Keep the lights on.

You naturally fall asleep in the dark, so keep the artificial light on wherever you are. Essentially, you're tricking your brain into thinking it's not time to go to sleep, throwing off your circadian rhythm.

7. Snack lightly.

Snacking close to bedtime has been shown to keep you awake longer. But it's important to pay attention to what foods you eat.

Avoid indulging in heavy meals, especially when it starts to get late. Food comas are a real thing and will make you even more tired. Instead, have a salad or an energy bar.

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8. Use electronic devices.

The blue light that emits from your tech devices inhibits the production of melatonin, which can prevent you from feeling sleepy. One study found that people who use a tablet at night produce 55% less melatonin.

9. Stay active.

While it's great to exercise during the day, as it can lead to a healthy sleep schedule, working out late at night can prevent you from sleeping. Experts recommend refraining from exercise 2-3 hours before bedtime.

10. Don’t forget to take your vitamins.

Taking your vitamins closer to bedtime can result in a boost of energy. This is why people take their vitamins in the morning with breakfast.

Switching to taking your vitamins at night is an easy solution for staying awake all night and for longer, while also boosting your immune system and keeping your body healthy.


11. Try aromatherapy and essential oils.

Certain essential oils — lemon, orange, peppermint, spearmint and rosemary — are said to have proven benefits of energy focus, and alertness, while also fighting fatigue and over-exhaustion. Dab a little on your wrists and sniff them periodically.

12. Try multi-tasking.

Keeping your mind focused on one thing can result in even greater fatigue. But if you multi-task and do a few things at the same time, your mind will be more occupied and, thus, more alert and more awake.

13. Play games.

Play a game on your phone or whip out a board game — any kind of game or activity to keep your mind occupied. This will keep you mentally stimulated and you’ll be surprised how time will quickly fly.

14. Give acupressure a try.

Gently tugging down on your earlobes, and rubbing the back of your hand with your opposite thumb, are unique ways to make sure you don’t fall asleep. In fact, one study determined that putting pressure on certain points of the body promoted alertness in students.


15. Chew gum.

Chewing gum will keep you awake as long as you're chewing it. Studies have shown that chewing gum boosts productivity and alertness. Just make sure you spit it out before you get too sleepy or you'll be getting a brand new haircut in the morning.

Is it safe to stay up all night?

Though it's not recommended to pull all-nighters ever, there are times where you may feel like staying awake will give you an advantage at school or work. But doing so for an extended period of time is dangerous to your health, both physically and mentally.

Not only can this result in difficulty focusing, but puts you at risk for brain damage, increased anger, memory loss, increased anxiety, unhealthy sleep patterns, and even hallucinations.

Given the risks associated with sleep deprivation, it's best to keep yourself safe by not driving or making big decisions while sleep deprived.


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Christina Wright is a New York-based freelance writer covering entertainment, beauty, interior design and all things fashionably interesting.