I wanted to write a response to Katelyn’s article “The all-nighter” from last week. I, too, in my infinite wisdom as a senior, decided that getting a German minor my freshman and sophomore years was a good idea despite the fact that I haven’t used the language since. As a result, the second semester of my senior year (right now), I had to take three upper-level biology courses to graduate on time. Needless to say, with the exorbitant amounts of content and the hectic schedule writing research papers and making presentations, this last month would not have passed without burning a bit of the midnight oil. I dubbed this month “The April from Hell” and in the last four weeks, I have plodded my way through eight—that’s right, EIGHT—all-nighters. I thought that as an obviously mad (or brilliant?) senior I would share my all-nighter advice with all you underclassmen out there. I have a couple main strategies that helped me end the month on top.
First, you gotta go work somewhere alone. I know that Katelyn’s article mentioned spending the night working with friends, but if you’ve got a nine-page-paper due the next morning, you don’t have the time of day (pun intended). Go somewhere by yourself, or if you have to go somewhere with other people, say a dorm computer lab, then wear some headphones. You’ve gotta stay forcused to get through the wee hours.
Second, get yourself a lightly caffeinated beverage. I don’t recommend energy drinks or coffee unless those drinks have little effect on you; I drink tea because coffee and soda make me way too jittery to concentrate well. If you can, use the hot water heater your parents got you when you moved in freshman year so you have a couple cheap drinks to sip throughout the night.
Third, get yourself some binaural beats and utilize these exclusively for studying. A few years ago some researchers discovered that by playing two notes that were similar in pitch through stereo speakers they could alter brainwave patterns. By manipulating the frequency of the pitches, the scientists discovered they could coerce the brain into mimicking brainwave patterns for pretty much any type of activity—including brainwave patterns for concentration and learning. This technology literally induces your brain into a focused state of mind so you can study and work more effectively. The binaural beats sound like white noise in the background and depending on the program you find online (e.g. NeuroProgrammer), you can use them with or without headphones. Some people may find their heads get warm using this technology and that’s simply because the program forces the brain hemispheres to synchronize and so they use more energy. If you want a great free version of this software, check out healingbeats.com. Before you think this sounds like absolute hooey check it out for yourself—I’ve used this technology for the last four years of college to successfully navigate all-nighters. Of course, if you have a psychological condition you should never try something like this without speaking with a physician, but I digress.
Finally, although you may call it an ‘all-nighter,’ give yourself the opportunity to sleep if you really need it. Working on an assignment with your tiredness levels turned to 10 will accomplish nothing. Give yourself a bit of rest if you need it. I suggest sleeping in 90-minute intervals if you really need the Zzz’s as this gives your brain the greatest chance of going through an entire REM cycle. That way, you’re more likely to wake up feeling refreshed than zombified, despite the annoying red 2:00 a.m. on your clock.
I hope that you share these tips with your readers and that any kids studying late for finals or any last-minute assignments take these techniques to heart. They really do help and believe me, without them I could never have overcome the “April from Hell” without professional help.
This article was submitted by Max Muehlip, Concordia class of 2013.