How to Recover From Pulling an All-Nighter


Is there a worse feeling than looking at the clock in the early hours of the morning realizing you still have hours of work to do? Ideally pulling an all-nighter only happens once in awhile, but when it does it still feels terrible. There is no way around feeling poorly after not sleeping, but there are also ways to make the day after less taxing. In fact, the actions you take the day after can help you bounce back from an all-nighter and will help you avoid ruining the rest of your week. Here’s what we suggest!

Bank sleep ahead of time.

If you know that an all-nighter is coming your way, prep for it. During the days leading up, try and get plenty of sleep. If you are skimping on sleep on the regular, you will feel the effects of an all-nighter much stronger.

Take a nap.

You probably won’t argue with us on this one. If you can find time for a nap take one, but don’t sleep too long or you will find yourself groggy when you wake up. A nap as short as ten minutes can be beneficial—as long as you don’t go over 45 minutes. By sleeping too long you will experience sleep inertia, which is what happens when you wake from a deep sleep, and it can be difficult to shake off that feeling. A quick power nap will recharge you, helping to power you through the rest of the day.

Getting a little extra sleep the following days is also a good idea. For a few nights after, go to bed early so your body has a chance to restore itself. Try to let yourself sleep as much as you need, and wake up without an alarm if possible.

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Hydrate hydrate hydrate.

What do you drink when you are tired? Coffee, tea or soda, most likely. Try water instead. A study from Tufts University found that mild dehydration at a loss of 1-2% of body weight in water was enough to impair thinking, which can easily happen if you drink a lot of caffeine. Water may not give you a rush (like a shot of espresso can), but it will help you feel better in the long run—especially during a day of sleep deprivation.

Don’t workout. Really.

As tired as you are, an energy-boosting workout may sound like a good way to perk up. But doo not, we repeat do not, workout when lacking sleep. Without enough sleep, your coordination will be affected and working out is potentially dangerous. Take it easy and wait a day to hit the gym.

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But definitely stretch it out.

While an intense workout is not a good idea, a little yoga can do you a lot of good. When you stretch and strengthen your muscles you massage the internal organs, which causes toxins to be rinsed from the body. The breathing aspect of yoga helps too, because when you breathe deeply your blood receives waves of fresh oxygen, which increases energy levels and revitalizes your entire system.

Do a little research and find a few poses, designed to increase energy and focus, that you are comfortable with. No need to do yoga for an hour, five to ten minutes will be enough for a quick pick-me-up. Most likely whatever kept you up all night wasn’t great for your stress levels, so yoga will also help you relax.

Eat properly.

When you are tired, reaching for sugary treats, soda, or starchy foods is appealing…really appealing. Refrain from eating processed food and eat whole foods that are designed to give your body energy. Food is energy for your body and carbohydrates are an obvious choice as they easily provide ready-to-burn fuel for your body. One problem with carbohydrates? Simple carbohydrates break down fast so you will have a short-lived energy burst, but then are left with low blood sugar levels.

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates like whole grains provide steady energy. Supplement complex carbs (such as brown rice and quinoa) with lean protein like fish, chicken, and nuts as well as fruits and vegetables. Eat three meals a day of roughly the same size and keep healthy snacks nearby for when energy levels start to drop.

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You didn’t think we completely forgot about caffeine did you? Caffeine can be your best friend after pulling an all-nighter, but only in moderation. Excessive consumption of caffeine may cause energy but also along with irritability, headaches, jittery feelings, and restlessness. It can also make it hard to fall asleep when you do finally get the chance. Beware of caffeine crashes caused when the adrenaline and dopamine brought on by caffeine start to drop off. Indulge in a few cups of coffee throughout the day, but take it easy or you may end up feeling worse than before you indulged.

How do you manage to get through the day after an all-nighter?