Let’s be honest with each other here—all-nighters are an inevitable part of the IB, even though they really aren’t supposed to be. We naturally stray towards doing things that are more fun, like binging Friends, rather than finishing our History Internal due in five hours that we haven’t even looked at yet. Also, we can get hungry and thirsty while scrambling to finish our work, and we don’t have too much time to prepare food. We need nourishment that’s fast, easy, and full of energy. In this blog post, I’ll talk about what foods and drinks can keep you productive and energized during an all-nighter and which ones you should avoid.
Best Midnight Snacks for an All-Nighter
Whoever cooks in the family probably does so because they know what they’re doing in the kitchen. If there’s something leftover from dinner, take it out of the fridge, microwave it, and eat. It should take a maximum of 5 minutes to transfer it to a bowl or plate and zap it with radiation. However, this isn’t very foolproof, since you can risk eating too much and going into a food coma.
Fruits are a great midnight snack when you study since you can just wash them and eat. Most basic fruits (e.g. apples, bananas, berries) don’t need to be cut for you to eat them, so you can eat while working to save you time. It’s even better if they’re chilled since they can shock you awake if you’re falling asleep. Also, some fruits like bananas are known to reduce nervous feelings, which you’re bound to have given that you’re behind on work. However, consider eating fewer bananas since they can help you sleep if you eat too much.
3. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is another very quick snack. The most you have to do is probably open the packaging and break off a piece. It also can reduce your blood pressure in small quantities and can give you a caffeine boost when you need it, without the jittery feelings. When I pull all-nighters, I usually eat a few pieces of dark chocolate at the beginning to combat nervousness and to bring down my blood pressure so that I can be more productive without unhealthy stress. That being said, DO NOT eat more than the serving size because it isn’t good for you long-term.
4. Green Tea
Green tea is a drink that can help you be more productive during an all-nighter. It has less caffeine than coffee, so you don’t go through a caffeine slump a few hours later. Because of this, it’s also more gentle on your nerves, and you can stay awake enough to be productive. It’s also proven to relieve stress. I suggest having cold green tea because it will give you a small shock of cold feeling in your mouth to keep you awake. Cold green tea has always been at my side in a little bottle whenever I pull an all-nighter, and it always helped me stay awake and productive.
5. Chewing Gum
I apologize to the readers with braces, but chewing gum can help you stay awake. Assuming that you use the standard mint flavor, it should give you a jolt of cold spice in your mouth to keep you alert. It’s known to improve your performance and enhance productivity levels. Just make sure to brush your teeth before you nap for the next day.
Avoid These Things
Now that you have a general sense of what foods and drinks help you, let’s get into what you should avoid.
1. Black Coffee
When you think of an all-nighter, you think of drinking three or four cups of strong coffee to keep you awake, right? However, you actually end up jittery and less focused than usual when you drink coffee. The release of caffeine is also a spike in energy over a smaller period of time, leaving you unusually tired after a few hours. However, if you want coffee for the taste, consider diluting it with some creamer or milk, drinking decaf, or drinking a smaller portion. Otherwise, I recommend green tea or other mildly caffeinated teas. They use a gradual release of caffeine over a longer period of time and are better for you in the long run.
Yoghurt is an excellent source of probiotics for digestion, but it also contains sugar that can make you drowsy. Avoid yoghurt when pulling an all-nighter, especially sweetened yoghurt. Even though there may be fruit in it, the fruit is preserved in sugar syrup. Actually, yoghurt is a proven home remedy for getting more sleep. The one time I ate yoghurt before an all-nighter, I ended up getting very drowsy during my study session and I wasn’t as productive as I could have been.
3. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has been used for centuries as a remedy for sleepless nights in many cultures. There isn’t much scientific evidence to prove that it helps us sleep better, but warm liquids in our body tend to make us feel drowsy and full.
Pulling an all-nighter can be a daunting task, especially for younger students. The thought that you missed out on an assignment or that you might fail a course is terrifying. However, having the right foods and drinks can help you catch up. Using items with less sugar and more protein can help you stay awake and finish your task quickly, so you can end up with more time to nap at the end before the next day. I also recommend taking short breaks (5 to 10 minutes) to get your thoughts together. Keep your cell phone outside the room that you study so that you don’t get distracted by social media. If you feel queasy, I recommend a drink made from ginger, honey, and lemon juice. It always helped me get over the early morning queasiness in the morning.
At the end of an all-nighter, you should feel accomplished that you finished your task and saved your grade, but you should also learn a lesson that procrastinating never helps you. Your mental health, physical health, and emotional health rely on you getting enough sleep, which means that you should finish your school work and leave enough space in your day to get at least 7 hours of sleep. 7 hours to get those 7’s on your exams! Happy studying!