How to Survive Finals: Your All-Nighter Recovery Guide

With finals at Winona State University just around the corner—A.K.A. next week!—it's finally time to start studying for exams and finalizing papers (if you haven't already). Whether you work best by spreading out your tasks evenly or by being under pressure and cramming the night before, you may find yourself in need of having to pull an all-nighter.


Although they're not the best for your health, especially if you frequently stay up super late, sometimes they are an absolute must to get an assignment or two done.


Regardless if you're able to foresee an all-nighter in your finals week future and want to plan ahead or if you've already pulled one and are in desperate need of some recovery advice, look no further than my breakdown below for how to give some TLC to your body both before and after staying up late all night.

woman biting pencil while sitting on chair in front of computer during daytime



1.  Fuel up on sleep

If you're able to, do absolutely whatever you can to get as much sleep as possible before pulling an all-nighter, whether it be sleeping in a little later than usual (no skipping classes, though!) or napping during your free periods. Your body will be consuming a lot of energy when you stay up late, so filling your sleep tank will help compensate for it.

2.  Cut down on caffeine intake

Regardless if you're a moderate or an above-average caffeine consumer, make sure to lower your coffee or chocolate consumption before slamming the books. By removing caffeine from your diet prior to your all-nighter, the effect it will have on your body will be much more intense, since you didn't allow your body to continue to build a higher caffeine tolerance.

3.  Swap the carbs with proteins and fats

Along with coffee, cut down on eating carbs before staying up late because they'll likely lead to an eminent energy crash—which completely defeats the purpose of pulling an all-nighter. Instead, munch on proteins (meats, eggs, avocado, beans and nuts) and fats (fish, nuts and dark chocolate) to fuel up on energy.

4.  Prepare to be “uncomfortable”

Set up your all-nighter space by surrounding yourself with things that'll guarantee you remain awake and alert, whether it be bright lights, energetic music or perhaps a friend—this latter option is especially nice since both of you can be accountable for each other in getting things done!

I highly recommend making small goals for you to achieve along the way in whatever you're working on, such as finish reading another chapter of your book or drafting another topic for your paper outline and getting up for five to 10 minutes to circulate blood through your body. Make sure to move, too, such as pacing or full-on walking up and down the hallway. Anything that you can do to make yourself “uncomfortable” will keep you awake longer and it'll ensure your all-nighter goes much more smoothly.

5.  Stay hydrated

Replenish your body by drinking a crap ton of water both before and during your all-nighter. If you must have some sort of caffeine to keep you awake, try your best to stick with coffee; do not, under any circumstances, drink any sort of “energy shot” or other type of concoction because they're extremely harmful to your health, especially your heart. Refilling your water bottle, depending on the distance to the nearest water fountain, could be your form of exercise I mentioned in the previous point about making yourself “uncomfortable.”

drinking from water bottle on beach



1.  Do NOT hit the snooze button

There's no denying that the next sleep you have following an all-nighter will feel like heaven; however, hitting the snooze button won't stop the world from spinning. Staying up super late was your decision, so it's up to you to accept the consequences of doing so… in other words, get your a** out of bed!

2.  Get moving

Find every excuse possible to take the stairs or walk a longer route to class (making sure not to be late, obviously) rather than riding the elevator or making a shortcut in your usual route, which may cause you to feel sluggish and slow later in the day. If you feel yourself get low on energy, shimmy your shoulders or give your thigh a good pinch—anything that'll distract you from how little you slept and how badly you would like to crawl back into bed.

3.  Soak up some Vitamin D

Even if it's for 10 minutes, try to schedule a time to get outside and be under the sun’s rays. For those of you in states where wintertime seems to consume all Vitamin D possible (such as my homely Minnesota), you can find Vitamin D tablets and gummies at your local pharmacy or pour yourself a glass of orange juice.

4.  Chew gum

I've been told many times by former teachers that chewing gum not only increases alertness, but also it has a direct correlation to improved intellectual performance. By chewing a couple sticks after your all-nighter, you stay awake and increase cerebral activity in your brain while making sure your breath is fresh!

5.  Go to bed early

This last one should be a no-brainer. Be efficient with your time and manage any additional assignments following your all-nighter, so you can schedule at least eight hours of sleep the night after. Although you won't be able to gain back the sleep you lost during your all-nighter, you can attempt to reset your inner clock that your body relies on to recharge.

Good luck with your finals, Warriors, and make sure to take care of yourselves!


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