Sometimes it just has to be done. You might have waited until the last minutes to study for that exam and you need to keep going even though the clock says it’s time to hit the sack. Or maybe you’ve got a project due at work tomorrow and it’s taken you a lot longer than you thought to finish it up. There’s no doubt about it – you have to pull an all-nighter. Eventually, you’ll reach the point where your eyes start closing and your head starts dipping but you need to power through that and finish what you are working on. Here are 11 tips to help you stay away without drugs or artificial stimulants.


Image Source: Axel Naud

Image Source: Axel Naud

This is the one you’ve probably seen a thousand times in the movies. The guy who’s feeling exhausted, worn out, or has been run over by a truck walks into the bathroom, goes to the sink, turns the cold water on and splashes it on his face. After that, he’s refreshed and ready to go kill a few hundred more bad guys. The movies may exaggerate the effectiveness of this trick a bit but it really does work. You might also try splashing cold water on your neck and your wrists as well for good measure.


Image Source: Tomas Gal

Image Source: Tomas Gal

If you’re going to be working on something that does not involve a lot of physical activity like studying for a test or working on your laptop, don’t get too comfortable. A big soft couch or comfy chair is not the place you want to be if you intend to stay awake. Sit at your desk or at the kitchen table and make sure you sit up nice and straight. The more comfortable you are, the harder it will be to stay awake.


Image Source: Ed Schipul

Image Source: Ed Schipul

Even if you’re up against a tough deadline, take short breaks and look at some funny videos or something else that tickles your funny bone. Having a good laugh can help wake you up and fight off that drowsiness for a while.


Image Source: Ryan Hyde

Image Source: Ryan Hyde

Trying to stay awake while sitting in a warm, stuffy environment will only make it that much easier to doze off. Turn the heat down or the air conditioning up if you can. If you are not in a place where you can do that, try to find the coolest place in the room, like a chilly corner of the room or near an air vent. Feeling a little on the chilly side can definitely help you stay awake and alert.


Image Source: Katie Brady

Image Source: Katie Brady

Another good thing to do when you take breaks is to get up and walk around a bit. Go outside for some fresh air if possible and walk around. You might even consider some light exercise like jumping jacks or dancing to your favorite music. Exercise increases oxygen to your blood helping you feel more alert.


Image Source: Stephen Dann

Image Source: Stephen Dann

Yeah, this one might make you feel a bit strange if you are around other people, like in the study hall or at the library, but it won’t be that hard to pull off on the sly. No pun intended. Gently tug on your earlobes a bit when you feel yourself sliding towards sleep and you might be surprised how it can help you stay awake.


Image Source: Laura D'Alessandro

Image Source: Laura D’Alessandro

If you know ahead of time that you may need to burn the midnight oil, see if you can work a nap into your schedule sometime during the day. Logging a little extra sack time before you try to pull an all-nighter will definitely help you stay awake longer and win the battle with the Sandman. It might be best if you can grab a nap right before you start on whatever project you will be working on late into the night.


Image Source: AKZOphoto

Image Source: AKZOphoto

Keep the area you are working in as bright as possible. It’s well-known that light stimulates the senses and can make it hard to go to sleep when you really want to, so use it to your advantage. The brighter the atmosphere is around you, the better chance you have of keeping your wits about you late into the nighttime hours.


Image Source: Mike Burns

Image Source: Mike Burns

This is another trick that sounds a little weird, but unlike the earlobe trick, you can be sure nobody is going to see you doing this. Gently tickle the roof of your mouth with the tip of your tongue. This can actually give you a bit of a jolt and help you stay with it a bit longer. If it feels a little annoying, you’re doing it right.


Image Source: mike krzeszak

Image Source: mike krzeszak

If it’s not too much of a distraction and you can do it without bothering other people, it might help to turn on some of your favorite tunes and crank them up a bit. Obviously, you won’t be selecting anything that could be classified as “easy listening.” You want something up-tempo and energetic. If you are a heavy metal fan, you are probably well-equipped with some of the best musical ammunition available to fight off drowsiness.


Image Source: Maciej Lewandowski

Image Source: Maciej Lewandowski

Give your body some extra energy by chowing down on some snacks. If you want to keep it on the healthy side you can go with fruits like apples, oranges, bananas and things that taste sweet, since the natural sugar in them can help boost your energy levels a bit. If you’re not so concerned about staying away from junk food, there’s candy, ice cream and all kinds of decadent snacks that are loaded with enough sugar to keep a five-year-old climbing the walls for hours. It will probably work pretty well for you also.