How to Stay Up Late


There are always going to be times in your life where you need to stay up really late. Whether you are going to an all night party, trying to finish a project before the next day, or invested in a long night of traveling, it can be hard to stay awake longer than your body is used to. However, with a little preparation and some helpful tips you might be able to stay up even longer than you would expect.

Part 1
Preparing to Stay Up Late

Preparing to Stay Up Late on How to Stay Up Late

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[1] A short nap will help you feel energized for a long night. Try to avoid napping for more than two hours or you might end up feeling lethargic and tired. Quick naps will be more likely to refresh you. Power naps can be a good way to recharge yourself in the mid-afternoon before you stay up late. Find a comfortable place and lay down. You can even lay your head down on your arms if there is no place to go horizontal. Set an alarm for thirty minutes later, put on some soothing sounds from the internet, and you'll wake up feeling refreshed.[2]

Preparing to Stay Up Late on How to Stay Up Late

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If you are already overtired from not sleeping the past few days it will be much harder to stay awake. Try sleeping in the two days before you know you’re going to need to stay up very late. This also depends on what you'll be doing the night that you stay up late. If you have to stay up late to do physical labor like construction, a lack of sleep may not impact you that much. Generally, as long as you haven't been sleep deprived for a long period of time, your heart and lungs and muscles can operate equally well. It's your brain and cognitive functions that struggle on a lack of sleep. If you know you're going to need to think clearly and quickly the night that you stay up late then sleep will be very important.

Preparing to Stay Up Late on How to Stay Up Late

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Heavy meals will cause you to feel sleepy as your body tries to digest what you have just eaten. Avoid heavy carbs and stick to lean meat and fruit if you are planning on staying up very late. [3] Protein will help you stay up later because it stimulates the neurotransmitter orexin. Orexin boosts wakefulness, so eating a steak could be a good way to stay awake. Don't gorge yourself to the extent that you have an incredibly full stomach. Digestion will make you sleepy. Just snack on bites of steak or another lean meat.[4]

Part 2
Staying Awake Naturally

Staying Awake Naturally on How to Stay Up Late

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If you’re spending your time doing something that you’re invested in you’ll be much more likely to stay awake. Try working on a project or building something with your hands. You could also try beating that video game that you really enjoy. However, the most active you can be while keeping busy the better. You won’t feel like you are about to fall asleep if you are in the middle of a kickball game! [5] If you’re playing video games for long periods of time, make sure to give your eyes a break.

Staying Awake Naturally on How to Stay Up Late

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Going for a run or lifting weights will naturally pump oxygen through your body and into your brain, making you more aware and awake. It might seem counterintuitive to exercise when you’re tired but it will be a huge boost. Studies show that going for a ten-minute walk increased participants’ energy for almost two hours. [6] Exercising before you stay up late will help, but doing it in the middle of the night will be even better.

Staying Awake Naturally on How to Stay Up Late

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Avoid eating candy bars or other junk food with a lot of sugar. This will give you an immediate sugar rush, but you’ll end up feeling even more tired once the sugar leaves your system ten or fifteen minutes later. Eating a lot of sugar will risk a crash.

Staying Awake Naturally on How to Stay Up Late

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You’ll be much less likely to get tired or fall asleep if you are engaged in an interesting conversation with someone. Your mind will be alert. [7] Try to engage in intellectual conversation that challenges your brain to think through ideas. The more you are willing to challenge your brain the less likely you'll be to fall asleep. Doing puzzles or word games is another good option.

Part 3
Forcing Yourself to Stay Up

Forcing Yourself to Stay Up on How to Stay Up Late

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Don't think that having a very strong cup of coffee or multiple energy drinks will keep you awake; it will just cause your body to use all of the energy you have left and crash very quickly. The trick is to have it in small doses (1 spoon of instant coffee rather than two, or a coke rather than an energy drink) and keep consuming more regularly throughout the night. You should also aim to drink a pint of water after all caffeine hits. Caffeine causes your brain to dehydrate, which can cause you to feel very tired very quickly. [8]

Forcing Yourself to Stay Up on How to Stay Up Late

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When you really can't stay up any longer, set your alarm clock to go off every 5 minutes. If you don't have an alarm clock but are staying up with somebody else, have them pinch you every now and then to keep you from falling asleep.

Forcing Yourself to Stay Up on How to Stay Up Late

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Sit down in a really hard chair so it is uncomfortable to fall asleep. Lounging in a bed or on a couch will make it much more likely that you will end up falling asleep.

Forcing Yourself to Stay Up on How to Stay Up Late

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If it doesn’t feel like it is nighttime you’ll be much less likely to fall asleep. Don’t hang out in areas with dimmed lighting if you are trying to stay awake longer.

Forcing Yourself to Stay Up on How to Stay Up Late

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Chewing sends signals to our brain that we should be alert. [9]. Your body will also think that you are consuming a meal. This will cause it to release insulin, which should cause you to wake up. Chewing on an ice cube is a good option. Just don’t hurt your teeth or freeze your mouth.

Forcing Yourself to Stay Up on How to Stay Up Late

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You don't need to drench yourself, but hopping into the bathroom and splashing some cold water on your face will help you feel alert again. This isn't a permanent solution, but if you finding yourself nodding off it's a great way to avoid passing out.[10] If you are driving a car late at night, try rolling the windows down. The cold air should have a similar effect as splashing your face with cold water and the sound of the air rushing through the car will help you too.

Forcing Yourself to Stay Up on How to Stay Up Late

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Don't play soft, soothing sounds - these will call you to feel relaxed and more tired. The idea behind upbeat music is to promote wakefulness and productivity. Studies show that playing music that matches the tempo of the work you are doing can help you be more attentive.[11] Music with high beats per minute are less likely to cause you to nod off.