Your eyes are heavy, you can barely keep from yawning, and suddenly your office chair looks like the perfect place to curl up and sleep. We've all been there before, trying to stay awake all night. It can be a challenge at first, but with just a few tips you can master the evening hours.
First you need to figure out if staying up during the night will be a short-term or long-term situation, and your day time habits will need to be adjusted accordingly. Typically, there are two different purposes for keeping later hours: either you have a deadline looming, whether it be a school or work project, or your schedule has permanently changed to reflect an overnight shift, generally because of employment.
If you find yourself in the first category the best thing you can do is to plan ahead. If you have a project due the next morning, do not try to stay up consecutively for twenty-four hours. Instead, plan multiple, even paced naps through your day. Power naps will allow your body some down-time to recharge. When waking up from resting, get up immediately; do not hit your snooze button. Remind your body what it's like when you get up for the day, and it will respond accordingly.
If your goal is to stay awake at night long-term, you'll need to commit to sleeping for a solid eight hours during the day time. The biggest difficulty with trying to flip-flop our schedules is the desire to be productive during day light hours. Even if the rest of the world seems to be up and about, running errands and doing chores, you still need your sleep! Set aside the same eight hours every day and let your friends and family know that you will be unavailable during that time. Go into your room, close your curtains, wear a sleeping mask or earplugs if you need to, and snuggle down. Most people find this to be easiest if they sleep during the first eight hours they have after having been up all night.
Now that you know when and how to sleep during the day, how do you actually make your body stay awake at night? There are a few easy guidelines you can follow to keep yourself awake.
• If possible, keep bright lights on. Your eyes respond to light by delaying your body's natural circadian rhythm, which controls your biological clock. This is an imperative step when keeping late hours is going to be a long-term situation.
• Get up and move around, get your blood pumping. Are you up because you're trying to write a paper? Turn on your stereo and dance to one or two of your favorite songs. Are you at work? Use your 15 minute break to jog or walk around your building.
Eat something! Your body will feel sluggish if it is not properly filled. Avoid sugary foods, and opt for healthy, sustaining snacks, such as nuts and cheese. Have some coffee or a caffeine drink if you need a quick boost, but be sure to follow it with something nutritious.