This guest post is contributed by Alvina Lopez, who writes on the topics of accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email: alvina.lopez@gmail.com

Okay, no one wants to be in this position—you were given an assignment or research paper weeks, maybe even months ago and you decided since the deadline was so far out off into the horizon, it could wait. Before you know it, it’s midnight, you’ve got maybe 18 hours till deadline, and you haven’t even started. In a perfect world, this scenario would never even occur. But when I was in college, it happened all the time. I think I’d experienced maybe 30 or more excruciating all-nighters over a three and a half year period. The first was the toughest, and after a few more, it wasn’t all that soul-draining as it used to be. But don’t get me wrong, every sleep-deprived night still sucked in a very big way. In the end, however, I made it out alive, and with good grades on top of that.

So if you do end up saving something for the very last night, which will happen inevitably, here’s how I managed and how you can manage, too.

  • Stock up on caffeine products. This may seem fairly obvious, but your body simply is not used to missing out on sleep and actively working on a task simultaneously. Pick your poison, as the saying goes. Whether its coffee, energy drinks, or even tea, make sure you approach the wee hours of the night prepared. But be forewarned: don’t ingest these products too quickly, simply because an unintended side-effect is the caffeine crash. You’ll get a rush of energy that may impair your ability to focus anyway, and then you’ll feel incredibly sleepy. I’d usually start with one cup of coffee per hour, and then transition to green tea later in the morning.
  • Take breaks. You can’t feasibly stay up all night without taking a few breaks. Since I used to smoke (I’m not advocating smoking by the way; it’s a terribly self-destructive habit and you should quit as soon as possible if you do) I’d set goals for myself, like write a page, take a smoke break. You can take other kinds of breaks too, like ten or fifteen minutes of Internet surfing for every hour of solid work you accomplish.
  • Try to take an interest in what you’re doing. When approaching an all-nighter successfully, it’s all about attitude. The worst, slowest, most painful all-nighters I ever experienced were those in which I had already made up my mind that my paper or project was boring and pointless. Don’t do that, whatever you do. If you have the choice of picking topics for your assignment, make sure you choose something you feel will sustain your interest for an entire night. If you can’t pick the general topic, then when doing your research, make sure that you find sources that approach a boring topic from an interesting perspective. Trust me—your level of interest makes a HUGE difference.
  • A friend who’s in a similar situation can sometimes help. If you’ve got a buddy to join you when things get tough, then all the better. You can motivate each other.

These are basically the only four things I did to help me make it through the night. As heart wrenching as it is to sacrifice a night of much-needed sleep, it isn’t impossible, and it will build your strength, your intellectual stamina, and even your character. Good luck!

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