5 ways to stay awake

Burn­ing the late night oil work­ing up the project due tomor­row, and real­ize you spend more and more of your efforts fight­ing the urge to sleep rather than the work itself? I’ve been there count­less times. There are 5 ideas to get out of that rut off the top of my hat:


1. A dance in a cold shower Effectiveness: *****

This is my trump card of get­ting my con­scious­ness back very fast. For a total of 10 – 15 min­utes, you basi­cally get 100% alert­ness and clar­ity back. Cold shower is also a folk remedy described to have numer­ous ben­e­fits for the body system includ­ing clean­ing the cir­cu­la­tory and reduc­ing blood pressure.

One down­side for this method is its dif­fi­culty for exe­cu­tion. Get­ting my ass in a cold shower in itself is hard enough, it takes a loath of willpower to do it at a cold winter night at 3am. I find doing warm up exer­cises before the shower very impor­tant to get my moti­va­tion up and also not get sick the next day.


2. A quick nap Effectiveness: *****/*

This is really a double edged sword. Get­ting up from a 15 minute quick nap some­times can really feel like having a whole night of qual­ity sleep. You are fully charged and the effect stays very long too. In a sense, this is way better than A dance in a cold shower. That is, when it works. When it doesn’t work, which has a not so insignif­i­cant chance to happen, the result is waking up fully ener­gized by the fact that the now 30 minute due project has not pro­gressed at all since last night. I can say that because I’ve had both, and con­cluded this is way too risky for impor­tant things. From my expe­ri­ence, if you do choose to follow this method, make sure you snap out of bed quickly when you wake up. Stand firm, walk around the hall­way to “start up” your system. That min­i­mizes the chance of you decid­ing you could use an “extra 5 minute sleep”.

Speak Effectiveness: ***

You’ll want to choose some­one who’s not also sleepy, for obvi­ous rea­sons. When trying to talk to some­one, it is very easy to get too excited and you end up having traded some quick nap time for chit chat­ting. If you are work­ing alone at night and there’s no one awake for you to talk to, try speak­ing out loud and pre­tend to be chat­ting. A good way to do it is read­ing out arti­cles aloud, with artic­u­late pro­nun­ci­a­tion & tonal­ity. How­ever you choose, just get the mouth moving.

Chew­ing gum Effectiveness: **

Another way to get your mouth moving. This is not as effec­tive as speak­ing out loud because you can still fall asleep when you’re chew­ing. Espe­cially during the times when the gum starts to get flabby and loses the effect.


Sit straight Effectiveness: **

All other things aside, you can at least influ­ence your psy­chol­ogy with your phys­i­ol­ogy. As futile as it may sound, it actu­ally gives a little aware­ness, and this is very portable too! You can do it almost every­where, even in a classroom.

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