ZZZs Make for As: A Tutor Talks All-Nighters

Last Updated: Jan 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM

Even if you have a brain that rivals the love child of Steven Hawking and Albert Einstein, no one can thrive on extended sleeplessness. Take it from a tutor who has seen her fair share of doctor/architect/journalist wannabes crash and burn into a whirlwind of keg-stands and co-eds . . . conquering college requires some degree of taking care of yourself.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night to function best (for some, 8 1/2 hours is enough). Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15 percent reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.”

First things first, try and get as much sleep as possible on a scheduled, nightly basis. However, if you find yourself in desperate need if brushing up on what your barrage of ACT tutors taught, there is definitely a healthy way to pull a maximally productive all-nighter.

Plan, Plan, Plan

When the adrenaline wears off and the reality of the rising sun kicks in, you're going to want to look around you and breathe a sigh of relief for what you have accomplished. In order to do this, it is essential to make yourself an outline that highlights study of your weaker areas through engaging activities. This can mean anything from making flash cards to writing yourself a song about the layers of the Earth's atmosphere. Make an outline that works for you. Give yourself a set amount of time for each subject, with ample time for breaks and healthy snacks, and don't kick yourself for going slightly over or under your allotted time limit.

Make it Worth Your While

In the real world, you get rewarded for kicking butt, so you should allow yourself a reward for pulling a successful all-nighter if you ace the test. As long as the reward isn't dangerous (see: binge-drinking) or irresponsible (see: charging an Hermes bag to your parent's credit card), then you earned it! Daydreaming about the Dragonball Z marathon you rented, white water rafting trip, or hot date can have quite the positive effect on propelling you through your academic mini-marathon.

Entertain Yourself, Move!

As a species, humans tend to border on the lazy side, unless dire necessity calls for it (or you have excellent self-control), we tend not to move around as much as we should. However, don't let gravity win! Getting your blood pumping through movement helps to generate oxygen flow.

According to the New York Times, “a series of animal studies from Japan suggest that the exercising brain has unique methods of keeping itself fueled. What’s more, the finely honed energy balance that occurs in the brain appears to have implications not only for how well the brain functions during exercise, but also for how well our thinking and memory work the rest of the time.”

It is essential that you give yourself 5-15 minutes per hour to get your blood pumping and feed that brain with the oxygen it craves.

Don't Overdose on Anything, Including Studying/ NO CAFFEINE

Last but not least, chugging energy drinks, sugar and junk food will only make you fatter, dumber and more tired. That's not to say never, but just about anything that gives you an initial rush of chemical goodness will give you a crash that makes it not worth your while. According to Dr. Oz, caffeine causes a surge in your metabolism, followed by a drop, and it makes you dehydrated. Being dehydrated is terrible for your health and your brain function. If you have to drink coffee, chase it with eight ounces of water. The best way to keep yourself alert and functioning though is to strictly drink water.

Whether you have aspirations of taking over the world or running a coffee shop, establishing healthy sleep patterns is must, but if you have to pull an all-nighter once in a blue moon, heed these words of advice and your grades will thank you.


Peg Cummings A former teacher and business executive, Peg believes that all anyone needs to make a start up a business is an idea, start-up capital, and a smart consultant.


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