20 Tips on How to Stay up All Night for Work.

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Percentage of People Working the Night Shift, 2014

That being said, we recognize that staying awake all night is necessary sometimes such as for the night shift at work, a project that needs to be completed ASAP, some school work that you’ve procrastinated so much that any more procrastination would lead to a fail or a job in logistics that requires you to drive all night. For tips on staying awake when driving check out this article on keeping yourself awake on a drive.

With that in mind, here are some tricks to staying awake all night.

20 Ways to stay awake all night for work.

1. Nap beforehand.

The body needs to sleep sometime and if you won’t let it sleep at night, might as well let it sleep in the daytime or a couple of hours beforehand.

The body needs to sleep sometime and if you won’t let it sleep at night, might as well let it sleep in the daytime or a couple of hours beforehand

This is one of the best ways to stay up all night without coffee if that’s something you are trying to avoid because it is natural and acts like a substitution transaction.

It has been found that shorter naps of between 1 – 2 hours work best especially the later during the day they are taken. It is therefore most efficient if it is taken as close to the time you are needed to stay awake.

2. Practice.

Practice makes perfect for a lot of things and staying awake is definitely one of them. This is more relevant for people who have to stay awake all night for an extended period of time like for instance if you are on the night shift for the next couple of weeks.

Practice staying awake for some time by, well, trying to stay awake. You will find that your body gets more proficient at it as time goes on. You can start practicing a week or two beforehand by steadily increasing the number of hours past your normal bedtime you can stay awake for and very soon you will notice some progress.

3. Get You Some Caffeine

Now there is no way this was not going to appear on this list because taking  caffeine to stay awake is a better lovestory than the Titanic.

The trick however, is the amount of caffeine that you should take.

It has been found that instead of taking a lot of caffeine at once, it is best that you take smaller quantities throughout the night

It has been found that instead of taking a lot of caffeine at once, it is best that you take smaller quantities throughout the night as this will continually contribute to staying awake and ensure that when you eventually need to sleep, you won’t have too much trouble doing so.

Another important consideration is the drink you take. Drinks with too much caffeine are a no no as they are not sustainable. Best to stick to coffee and soft drinks and in moderation even at that.

For effects of taking too much caffeine check out this article on what happens when you take too much caffeine.

4. Be active.

If you start to feel sleepy and need to make yourself stay awake then you need to get moving. Stand up, stretch, do push ups, just do something. This is because most positions we stay in for work actually encourage sleep. Your comfortable chair, or the bed you are typing on for instance.

You need to remove this comfort from your body by introducing a little exercise every now and then. The pumping of blood and the production of energy by your body to support the exercise will work to ensure that you stay up for longer.

Also, you get the added benefit of being a little fitter. It’s a win-win honestly.

5. All of the Lights.

This is one of the lesser known methods of staying awake but can go a long way in helping to avoid sleepiness in the office/work.

The body is wired to sleep when it is dark which is why most people automatically become sleepier at night. Remove this factor from your work area by working in a well lit area. The body will be less inclined to sleep as a result.

On that same note, this trick would be much more effective if you avoid sleeping around bright lights because the body might get used to this and negate this idea when you try to use it to stay up for work.

6. Turn the volume up.

Listening to music is an effective method of staying awake because it is essentially like someone talking to you while you work and encouraging you to stay up.

Now some songs will definitely make you sleepy so you need to avoid those and stick to those that would provide a perfect balance between keeping you awake and allowing you to concentrate on the work at hand.

We recommend that you find a playlist that suits you or browse the internet for suggestions on songs that would work best for you.

7. Set goals.

Setting goals and milestones for the work that you have to do will definitely help you stay up longer. In dividing the work you have to do and telling yourself what time you have to complete each task by, you put yourself under pressure to work and reach a certain target because falling behind would set your entire night backwards.

Knowing that any form of sleep might set you backwards would subconsciously spur your body into action and reduce the probability of sleep so when preparing for an all nighter, set goals!

8. Technology works.

Have you ever noticed how you stay awake longer when using your phone or laptop? Well there’s a scientific reason behind that. It turns out that these screens emit a certain type of light that inhibits sleep in humans.

Exposing yourself to screens can therefore hamper your sleep but seeing as that is exactly what we are going for, it’s something to consider when you want to stay awake.

This is especially useful for people who use devices to work.

9. Take a cold shower.

If you find yourself struggling to stay awake then you might need to shock your body into attention.

One way to do this is to take a cold shower. The cold water hitting your skin will wake it up and make it more alert which will keep it awake for some time. This is one of the simplest ways to stay awake at night but bear in mind that the more you use it, the less your body will stay awake afterwards.

10. Routines – Get One.

For those of us who need to stay awake at night as a constant occurrence, not just a temporary thing, it would be best to change your sleep schedule to accommodate this.

For those of us who need to stay awake at night as a constant occurrence, not just a temporary thing, it would be best to change your sleep schedule to accommodate this.

Come up with a routine that suits you that tells you when you need to sleep during the day so that you will be able to stay awake at night. Keep to this routine and you stand a very good chance of staying awake all night for work.

This is because the body is a sucker for habits and routines and when you give it one, it will run with it.

11. Take breaks to reset.

Even though you are staying awake to get some work done, you do not need to work the whole time. This will exhaust you and will essentially invite sleep to come knock at your door.

It is therefore best to take some breaks while working so that your body recharges. You can maybe get on the internet and watch some videos or use social media.

This combines with the use of technology above to ensure that you as well stay awake during the break because breaks are notorious for leading to sleep so using screens during your break will help in resetting your mind and keeping you awake as well.

This will also be a perfect time to exercise the body a bit to wake it up as discussed above.

12. Make water your friend.

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “does drinking water help you stay awake?”. If you have, the simple answer is yes, it does.

Dehydration when working will lead to your body losing concentration and when you lose concentration, it is easier for the body to lapse into sleep. It is important therefore that you drink water throughout the night to ensure that you keep concentration and reduce the probability of sleep.

13. Snacks…

Taking some snacks when working will help you stay energized at work because it would provide the body with food that can be burnt for fuel.

The kind of snacks taken is very important however because some snacks or at least the quantity they are taken in can actually lead the body to seek sleep.

Prioritize snacks that are rich in protein such as chicken, cheese and nuts and for drinks, take protein shakes.

14. Work with your body.

When staying up at night, ensure that you listen to the cues that your body gives you and work with them. For instance, if you find that you are getting tired, focus on tasks that you feel are easier to do and leave the more complicated tasks for when you have a bit more energy.

This is because more complicated tasks require more mental energy and will exhaust you faster and lead you to sleep so doing them when you feel tired will exacerbate your fatigue and which translates to a higher probability of sleep.

15. Watch out for danger hours.

You need to be aware of your danger hours so that you take more precautions around those times to ensure that you stay awake. A general danger zone for most people is between the hours of 4 and 5 am as the body has been up for a long time and now craves sleep.

When you reach these hours therefore – or your personal danger zone – get active or maybe take a cold shower to ensure that you get through those hours.

16. Avoid alcohol and its mates.

If you were thinking of taking some alcohol or some other related substance before or during the night, don’t. Alcohol is a depressant and will lead to your body relaxing and seeking sleep and sooner or later, you will fall into it.

If you must drink something, take water. It’s healthier and will keep you awake for longer.

17. Stimulants.

This was put at the very bottom because turning to medication to avoid sleep should be a last resort that is only used in the case of emergencies or if the above suggestions have persistently failed.

In such cases it is not good to self-medicate because drugs have side effects that only trained professionals know of. You should therefore speak to your doctor or licensed medical practitioner to find out what drugs would work best.

The above methods are the more conventional ones but if you need an extra push in the unconventional section, here are some more tips.

18. Get mad.

Anger is a very good motivator and can keep you awake when channelled right. We are not saying you should get angry at people to the point of violence, far from it. You can get mad at several things to push you to be better. For instance, you can get mad at your current position in life that is causing you to have to work all night whilst some people are sleeping and tell yourself that you are going  to work harder so you can avoid sleepless nights. Anger is a strong emotion and strong emotions can keep you awake at night. Just don’t get violent with it or direct it at someone else with the intent to harm.

Anger is a strong emotion and strong emotions can keep you awake at night. Just don’t get violent with it or direct it at someone else with the intent to harm.

19. Sexual excitement.

Speaking of strong emotions, sexual excitement can keep you up as well. The feeling of wanting to engage in coitus as Sheldon Cooper would call it would elicit strong feelings that can be channelled to other useful endeavors if you are disciplined enough.

Now we are not going to tell you how to get this excitement but we will say that you should avoid being in the presence of anyone you could act these feelings on because that would be a distraction that you cannot afford because you don’t have time and that is why you are staying up at night.

20. Motivate yourself.

Remind yourself why it is that you are staying up to work

Remind yourself why it is that you are staying up to work and we are not talking about short term reasons such as to keep your job or pass the course or complete a project in time.

No, what are the reasons you want to succeed in what you are doing. Is it to give your spouse and children a good life, to achieve a certain milestone in your life or to treat your own self to some good things.

These thoughts will provide the motivation you need to stay awake for that work and get rid of any sleepiness you find yourself feeling.

Frequently asked questions.

1. How can I stay up all night for a night shift?

Stay awake for a night shift by napping beforehand, taking caffeine, listening to music, drinking water and working in a bright area amongst others.

2. How to pull an all-nighter?

It is important that you set goals for the task at hand so that you keep going until you reach the milestones you set for yourself. You can also nap beforehand, work in a bright area, take light snacks filled with proteins and stay hydrated.

3. What are symptoms of staying up all night?

Anger, irritability, stress, a lack of concentration, fatigue and drowsiness are some of the better known effects of staying up all night. It is therefore best that as much as you can, you allow your body to rest at night.

4. When should I sleep if I work nights?

It is best that you sleep as soon as possible after the night shift because this is when the body most craves it. If you take too much time afterwards, the body will lose the urge to sleep in order to engage in its normal daytime activities but the effects of sleep deprivation such as fatigue and irritability will linger.


It is important that you sleep as much as possible in the night because this is when the body most requires it but if you find for one reason or the other that you are unable to, ensure that you find the time to make up for the lost sleep because if you do not, you might find yourself facing a host of problems at work or as you go about your day, some of which are shown in the graph below from the World Economic Forum.

Effects of having a sleep deficit on work.

Remember, humans are not nocturnal so staying awake at night is not sustainable in the long run but should you need to stay awake for work in the short run, the tips listed above will do you justice.





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