Pull an all-nighter

It’s the end of the term and you’re up late. Everything is eerily quiet. You look out your window. The darkness is endless. You know he’s out there, the Sand Man. He’s stalking you. Tempting you. Asking you to relinquish your dreams for his.

It’s the end of the term and you’re up late. Everything is eerily quiet. You look out your window. The darkness is endless. You know he’s out there, the Sand Man. He’s stalking you. Tempting you. Asking you to relinquish your dreams for his.

It’s you, the computer and the books. The TV is your only friend, the only one willing to stay up. You stare blankly at its screen. Its images are far away, empty and hollow. Everything is prerecorded. You tap on the screen, losing your mind. Is anyone in there?

The term has come down to this. Out of desperation, you are pulling an all-nighter.

Pulling an all-nighter is nothing short of sleep deprivation, a recognized form of torture. If done repeatedly, it can have harmful effects on the body. All-nighters are, however, a simple fact of college life and closely tied to your dreams of a better future.

As the hours wear on, doubts creep in. You examine your motivations. Why are you staying up so late? Is it worth it? Maybe you should give up. Maybe you should lie down.

No! You can sleep when you’re dead.

Don’t let the Sand Man tempt you and don’t discard your dreams of a better future. Decline his offer of instant gratification in the form of sleep. You know his price, nothing less than abandoning your own ambitions. Sleep now and forget it all. Forget becoming an engineer, a scientist, a doctor, an architect, a writer. Sleep now and learn to enjoy life as an administrative assistant, not as the boss.

Resist his easy way-the bad grade for the paper unfinished, the article unwritten and the homework undone. Prove yourself once and for all. Hold it together. Achieve your dream. Resist the cold piercing eyes of doubt, eyes that conceive of you in only one way, as the vehicle of someone else’s dream. You have dreams of your own, but they have to wait. Before you can bask in the sun, you must get through the night.

Tips for a successful all-nighter

1. Keep cool. (A warm room will put you to sleep.)

2. Drink lots of ice water.

3. Listen to music–upbeat and grating is best. (If you have a roommate, you may want to use an iPod.)

4. Run a cold washcloth over your face.

5. Work with good lighting, neither too bright nor too dark.

6. If possible, pull an all-nighter with a non-chatty, non-love interest friend.

7. Don’t eat sweets.

8. Avoid fatty foods.

9. Eat small amounts of protein.

10. Take a 5-10 minute break every hour.

11. Take a brisk walk or a short run to keep alert.

12. A trick that really works: Apply a small amount of mentholatum at mid-cheek, below your eyes. Be careful not to get it in your eyes. Your eyes may sting and water but you will achieve a burst of alertness. Burt’s Beeswax is also said to work. Be sure to keep these substances out of your eyes.

13. Remember to blink. When people stare at a computer screen for long periods of time, they often blink less, causing their eyes to become irritated and dry.

14. Drink a steady stream of caffeine in small concentrations. Tea is good.

15. Keep moving–whatever you do, do not lie down.

16. Wear comfortable clothes.

17. Avoid alcohol and over-the-counter or illegal drugs.

>You are hitting the wall when

1. You can’t remember what you just read.

2. You nod off involuntarily.

3. You see little green men.

The hazards of sleep deprivation

Before electric lighting, people slept an average of 10 hours a night. Now the average American gets just under seven. Eight hours of sleep per night is recommended “for good health, safety and optimum performance.” Sleep is needed for cardiovascular health, mental health, the immune system, the metabolic system and memory. According to the National Sleep Foundation, running a sleep deficit can make you fat, give you high blood pressure, increase your risk of diabetes, cause depression, negatively affect your moods and lead to accidents. Symptoms of sleep deprivation include exhaustion, fatigue, pessimism, sadness, stress and anger. It can hamper your ability to solve problems, access memory and can make you look older.

Fine. You understand the risks. You won’t do it often. But desperate times call for desperate measures. You will stay up tonight. You have come to the university for a higher purpose, nothing less than an education and a life that does not require your participation in the service industry. The easy out of non-performance is not for you. You will get the job done. Prove that you won’t succumb to the cheap promises of those (imaginary or real) who would have you set aside your dreams for theirs.

In the end, this is the battle that matters. It’s just you and the man. The man may win in the end, but he won’t win tonight.