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Last Updated on July 29, 2022 by Peter

How To Stay Awake At Night & Handle Studying Or Night Shift?

Night’s sleep is of utmost importance for every person in the world. But sometimes each of us has to pull an all-nighter in order to be ready for an exam or for an important meeting that awaits us tomorrow.

You can be considered among the lucky ones if you do not sleep all night only occasionally due to situations such as exam, important event tomorrow or night out. But there are a lot of people for whom staying awake all night is a normal part of life.

According to statistics provided by various labour institutes in the UK and USA, more than 10 percent of the population work a non-daytime schedule, which means working in shifts or working exclusively at night shifts. It is certainly not healthy and can even lead to sleep disorder, but there are so many professions where that is simply inevitable.

Certainly none of us would want a police officer, doctor or firefighter to work only from 9 to 5. So all of them have to learn how to stay awake at night and be productive. Our tips will help you handle studying or night shift better, with as few side effects as possible.

Table of Contents
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    Staying awake & sleep deprivation

    Sleep deprivation is a very broad term and sometimes it is even challenging to know if you’re sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation is both when you don’t get enough sleep for a few days in a row and you create minor sleep debt, but also a condition when hallucinations occur and can even be fatal. Sometimes it is even used as a torture technique because it causes extreme mental and physical strain. Deliberate sleep deprivation has been used for centuries, usually for interrogation because a person will admit everything when loses the notion of time and space due to fatigue.

    An image of a man fallen asleep in his office.

    Some of the first symptoms that staying awake took a toll are drowsiness, yawning and a low level of mental focus. One night of restful sleep and you will be back to 100% if these are the only symptoms you have. But it is not always easy to recover from sleep deprivation. Sometimes it takes a lot more time. There is no shortcut. Then you have to be patient and give your body enough time to neutralize the adverse effects of staying awake at night. If you notice persistent problems, contact sleep specialist.

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    So - how to stay awake at night easily?

    Circadian rhythm is actually one name for all natural processes that occur in the 24-hour cycle primarily as a consequence of the change of light and darkness. Sleep is a natural process that is affected the most. When it starts to get dark, our body starts secreting melatonin, a sleep hormone.

    That is why it is not enough just to want to stay awake. Sometimes we try hard, but we can’t resist the urge to fall asleep. The reason lies on hormonal level. So we need the following tricks to stay awake at night easily.

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    Take naps during the day

    If you know that sleepless night is in front of you, then naps will definitely help you. You will not feel sleepy as early as usual and you will reduce sleep debt. There are many other benefits of an afternoon nap, but it should not last too long. It is better to have a few shorter power naps than one that lasts 2 or 3 hours. We do not recommend coffee nap for night shift workers.

    An image of a man napping on a sofa.

    Practice

    Practice makes perfect. Do not expose the body and mind to sudden shock if you want to avoid being drowsy. You should reset your internal clock gradually. If you give yourself enough time, you won’t hate all-nighter that much more. However, keep in mind that necessary tools are blackout curtains, eye mask and earplugs. Without them, it is almost impossible to painlessly reset internal clock.

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    Drink less coffee but often

    If you have read our other articles, you know that we always advise you not to consume caffeine after 3 PM. When you need to stay up all night, the situation is different. But that also doesn’t mean you should drink huge amounts of caffeine. Drink coffee several times a day, but in smaller amounts. This will create the ideal balance. Energy drinks should be avoided most of the times because of the too much caffeine and sugar.

    An image of a sleepy woman holding a cup of coffee.

    Skip alcohol & drugs

    It is never a good time to consume alcohol and drugs. You probably think that stimulants like alcohol and drugs will help you stay awake, but that’s only temporary. Once their effect starts to fade, you will feel even worse than before. Also both are harmful to health so stay away from them and find another solution.

    A male's hand over the glass of alcohol.

    Simulate sunlight at night

    When you want to fall asleep, you should stop looking at screens because blue lights have a negative effect on melatonin secretion and on the eyes. Now that the situation is turned upside down, blue lights can be helpful. Watch a movie or YouTube video if you can. Also bright light can simulate daylight. Avoid being in dark environment because you won’t be able to stay awake and focused for next 6 or more hours.

    a man working on a laptop late night in the dark

    Take a cold shower

    Cold shower is so refreshing. Don’t shower with ice cold water, but rather lukewarm. Except you enjoy cold showers, but we doubt it except you have been practicing it for quite some time. If you don’t have a chance to take a shower, then splash cold water over face. The effect will be similar. And if you can, brush your teeth too. These are all ways to suggest to the body that it is not time to sleep.

    An image of a beautiful young woman taking a shower.

    Have a late night healthy snack

    Food cravings are something that everyone experiences, and food cravings especially strike when you are awake during the night. Your body suggests that it needs to boost energy. Sugary snacks look like a good option. But the energy boost you get from simple sugar will cause a rapid peak of energy, followed by a sudden drop that will make you feel very tired.

    an image of a woman having a late night snack

    That is why late night snacks must be healthy and full of nutrients. Eat nuts, fruits, canned tuna, dark chocolate and similar things that will raise your energy level and keep it stable for hours.

    Deep breathing

    Breathing is an important part of meditation, yoga and many other techniques that help you relax and ultimately aiding mental performance. Pay attention to your breathing and try to breathe “from your stomach” and not from your chest. This way you will achieve deep breathing and feel the influx of energy.

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    Switch tasks often to stimulate mind

    If you focus on only one task for a long time, your concentration will start to decline. So try to switch tasks often to stimulate the mind even if you are studying. But avoid monotony. Try different approaches and you will be much more productive. Of course, if you have job to do that requires maximal focus, don’t follow this advice.

    An image of a man working from home in his bed.

    Make it up next day

    Shift work is designed so that you rarely or almost never work two nights in a row. You take turns working night and day, and you have days off in between. So the next day, take the opportunity to sleep both during the day and go to bed on time in the evening. Don’t forget to limit duration of afternoon nap, otherwise you won’t be able to fall asleep on time. A small group of people only work at night and then the only solution is to switch day and night, completely changing circadian rhythms. Avoid drowsy driving, use public transportation.

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    Exercise during the day

    Physical activity has a positive effect on every area of our lives, including sleep. Exercising before the night shift or during the night is a great way to keep alertness at a high level.

    An image of a couple stretching and exercising in the morning.
    Peter

    Peter

    Sleep enthusiast & researcher Sleep is a crucial for a healthy life, in every sense. TSA gave me the place to express my feelings and opinions about the state we spend one third of our lives. In free time - a huge fan of dreams and lucid dreaming. Even started making own dream map
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