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An Expert’s Step-by-Step Guide to All-Nighters

Updated: May 5, 2020

By Salyha Mughal


Being the lawless, procrastinate-or-die, night owl that I am, I can honestly say all-nighters just come naturally to me. The stillness of a near-empty library at 4am is truly unmatched. The odd car zooming down a silent road and stars gazing down at you, like glowing cheerleaders motivating you to soldier on. Ah, such good vibes. Okay enough of the romanticising.

Truthfully the (future) doctor in me must warn you that all-nighters are most definitely NOT the way to survive med school- quite the opposite actually. I could lecture you endlessly about the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation and how just being moderately organised will mean you won’t ever have to succumb to the night. But you’re not here for that.

You, like almost every student to have ever existed, are under the pressure of a deadline. Its 8pm and the weight of your task-list is heavy on your shoulders, the textbooks are calling, time is ticking, you know it has to be done. Oof, I’ve been there more times than I’m proud to confess. So, let me just say a gigantic you’re welcome because friends, in the next 750 words of this how-to guide, I am going to change your studying night life.

1. Bank sleep


Okay, this has to be done in advance of your scheduled all-nighter (yes, scheduled, I’ll tell you more about it in Step 9). Consider yourself a phone battery, if you’re going to be using your phone continuously the next 24 hours, it goes without saying you’ll want to start off with a full charge.


2. Grab Supplies


  • Snacks – Go for something high-sugar that will give you a kick when you need it, I love those sour strawberry laces that burn your tongue.

  • Caffeine – it varies from person to person, I usually grab an energy drink, some prefer coffee, or tea, or you may not even need any. If you do though, save them until the absolute last minute – you’ll know it when your eyes start burning... (WARNING I by no means endorse excessive caffeine intake, this is so harmful to your health, please only consume in moderation!!)

  • Water – get a big water bottle and drink plenty. It’s the key to survival, especially if you are having caffeine which will dehydrate you.

  • Study equipment – make sure you have all the books, stationery and resources you’ll need for the night and remember your laptop charger!!


3. Location, location, location