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How to Pull an All-Nighter before Exams

StudyingIIT JEE aspirants and the IITians are all ultimately teenagers who slack off now-and-then. And then they have to resort to pulling an all-nighter just before the exam to cover weeks of study material into 12 hours of study time. The amazing part is that many students do manage to pull it off too.

Studying all night long, however, takes a toll on our physical and mental alertness at the time of the exam which reflects in our performance too. The Circadian Rotation of the Earth that governs our body clock refuses to change for our convenience and many of us last-moment muggers find it difficult to master our sleeping pattern to avoid dozing off during the exam time! Here are pre-exam night study tips straight from an IITian’s diary:

10 pm to 11 pm

StudyingDr. Charmane Eastman, Director of Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory in Chicago, rightly found that our body clock is quite a smart one. It does not need sunlight or man-made clocks to tell it what it needs when. So, if you know that you are going to stay up for straight 12 hours before the exam, it is best to nap early in the evening to charge themselves up. 

This is the night owls’ secret. They sleep during evenings and get up around 8 pm to start their new day. Hence, they are able to postpone their bedtime yawns by a few hours.

11 pm to 12 midnight

StudyingAs the circadian rhythm cycle takes over, your body temperature starts to dip during this time. But if you really want to study for the night, opt for a sweater or a jacket instead of the heater. Turning up the heat will make you too comfortable and you may fall asleep.

Also, do not go for the hot coffee cup yet. It may keep you alert for a short period but will make you feel drowsy and even restless later in the night. You can opt for a light, healthy snack instead such as dark chocolate with nuts for sweet tooth, a banana as filler or some tried-and-tested pop-corns for munching.

1 am to 2 am

StudyingLate night study strategy specifically states that you should start with the toughest and most scoring topics first (after all, you are after exam marks tonight) and leave the easier and less scoring topics for the wee hours of the morning when your energy levels will start dripping. Changing your seat or pacing up and down for 5 minutes can help you shake off the growing tiredness.

If you are hungry and drowsy, grab a fruit or cup of cottage cheese with strawberry toppings or a cup of curd and sugar. Chug off iced tea, fruit juice or club soda instead of coffee or soda. Chocolate milk your mom makes is a treasure house of caffeine and sugar you need at this time.

4 am to 5 am

By this time, your body clock actually starts gearing up for the next day and you are comparatively more alert during this period. However, this is also the time to take your 1.5-hour nap to fool your body into thinking that you have had your night’s sleep. If you cannot afford this much time, at least catch a few winks to recharge your batteries. It will help you keep off the grogginess that will envelope you if you doze off involuntarily.

6 am to 7 am


Here’s your reward for studying all night – a gorgeous sunrise so few of us are able to see these days. So, go out into the balcony or park and soak in the view. As you enjoy the sunrise, you might also want to have a light breakfast of bread and eggs or a tomato sandwich. Keep it light and make sure it is packed with proteins and some carbohydrates too. Go easy on fats as they are difficult to digest and hence, make you feel slothful for the day.

7: 30 am to 8:30 am

exerciseAs you prepare for your coming test, it is a great idea to exercise and have a nice warm shower. It will clear your head and will make you feel clean and fresh too. Eat well. This time too, go for a high protein diet bereaved of fats. The simple math is that Proteins add to Brain Power while Fats drain from it.

Other Pre-Night Exam Tips

It’s tough to study alone at night and when there is still lots of syllabus to cover it gets too quiet and often boring. If you have someone to chat with occasionally, it can help your brain to stay awake. Your company may include a classmate, your sibling preparing for his or her exams or working on assignments, your dad or mom, or even your pet. Anyone who can respond to your witticisms with a grunt, a meow or a woof will do.

After the Exam

SleepingNow that the exam is over, you can gorge on your beloved carbohydrates and fats such as pasta, bread and cereals. During the day, sleep just for one or two hours to make up for lost sleep the previous night. Then, keep off the bed at least until 9 pm so that you are able to sleep well in the night and can adjust back to your ‘normal’ life. After all, all-nighters are best when they are a one-time thing. When repeated again and again, they will wreck your health and your social circle too. So, be warned!