How to Survive College on No Sleep

As college students, the constant problem we face is trying to find the perfect balance between study time, social time, exercise, extracurriculars, and free time... Oh, yeah, and sleep. With all of the responsibilities as well as fun things to do, my sleep gets pushed to the back burner. Now this may sound prideful, but I seriously have a skill of functioning on little to no sleep. Granted, I’m not perfect, and sometimes I oversleep or mess up, but for the most part, this is a gift from God!

At times my schedule is so full of homework that I don’t have time to sleep. Other times, my schedule is so full of fun activities with friends that I don’t want to sleep! I work the night shifts at the desk of my dorm two days a week and wake up at 5:30 to go to the gym the other three days (usually going to bed around 1:30). So I average about 4 hours per night. Especially this past month, I have been cutting back on sleep and loading my schedule full of hanging out with my friends. As a senior two weeks away from graduating, I am desperately trying to squeeze in as much quality time with others as possible. I also pulled my first all nighter last month which was on my college bucket list, so that was super fun! That was honestly one of the most fun days ever. I ended up having so much energy for some weird reason!

Given that I’m an experienced college senior, I feel qualified to provide my tips on how to survive, maybe even thrive???, on little or no sleep!


Duh. But seriously, every morning before I go to the gym I drink a packet of pomegranate lemonade with 60 mg of caffeine (the same amount as one cup of coffee). All you do is mix it with water. It’s really refreshing and great to wake you up and energize you for your morning workout or 8 a.m. class. You can buy these energy packets in a bunch of different flavors like blueberry acai, wild strawberry, and peach mango. These are great if you don’t like the taste of coffee or tea, but want some caffeine.

Photo courtesy of J. Kelly Brito

Sometimes no sleep is better than little sleep

It makes no sense to me, but I’ve noticed that I function significantly better when I do not sleep at all than when I sleep only a little. One time, I went to the gym on only three hours of sleep and literally almost passed out because I was so weak and tired. But when I went to the gym after my all nighter, I had no mch energy. We ran half mile sprints and did abs and I was rocking through it! I think this system works because then I have little concept of time if I have not slept, so I still feel like it has just been one really long day instead of actually recognizing the fact that I have not slept at all. This little magic tip can also be helpful if you’re already awake but have a lot of homework to get done. I know myself and when I get in the mood to be productive, there’s no telling how long that will last, so I feel the need to take advantage of those moments, even if they come at 2 a.m. Then later on in the day, when I inevitably do not feel like doing anything, then I have already accomplished my homework and can just relax or take a nap.

Photo courtesy of Sylvie Tittel


I discussed in a previous article about the amazing gym group that I joined this semester. (See Why Waking Up At 6 a.m. Has Changed My Life). This keeps me motivated and so excited to go to the gym. Going to the gym allows my body to wake up and move which significantly decreases the morning grogginess. Though it may seem counter productive to wake up early to go to the gym instead of get more sleep, I have found that going to the gym before class has been so beneficial for my focus, confidence, and energy level. And not only the exercise, but the community of friends that I get to surround myself with make me full of laughter, gratefulness, and joy which is quite a way to start off the day.

Get some snacks

One thing that helps my roommates and me to stay awake is snacks. It gives me something to do, provides some brain food, and allows for a short break in the homework craziness. I usually try to choose something especially healthy because running on no sleep mixed with greasy food just does into sound like a good combination. Plus, you don’t want to be snacking just to be snacking, so frozen grapes are usually my go-to. They are low in calories and high in deliciousness. Very official dietetics major stuff over here.

Photo courtesy of Aldyth Moyla

As the end of the school year draws near, I find it harder and harder to actually go to bed when there are so many fun things to do and so many people that I want to hang out with. I acknowledge that I am very blessed with the ability to be able to function on about 4 hours of sleep a night, but hey, we all have different talents! But I hope these tips are helpful for you to stay awake and take advantage of the last few weeks of the semester!

Keep pushing, and have fun! You got this, girl!