Projects pile up. To-do lists seem to never end. And deadlines are super sneaky. At least they seem that way the days before that impending due date. Sound familiar?
The good news: you still have time.
The not-so-good news: you might have to sacrifice a cozy night in bed for those extra hours to get things done.
What might surprise you? The quality of your work and the rate of your productivity can actually be better during these all-nighters than after a full night’s rest. There’s science to prove it too.
You Don’t Need Eight Hours Of Sleep
First, let’s deal with this myth – no one needs eight hours sleep. Actually, studies have shown that those who live the longest, happiest lives sleep less than eight hours a day.
There have been a lot of experiments and research done over the past few years on sleeping. Results from these studies have shown that sleeping longer hours can actually be worse than sleeping shorter hours. You might have noticed this if you’ve ever felt groggy and tired after waking up from a 10-12 hour sleep.
When it comes to sleep, it really is quality over quantity. With some adjustments to your habits and routine, you can have better sleeps and more hours of productivity.
But what happens when you power through the night and burn the candle at both ends?
All-Nighters Increase Creativity
Remember all those times you pulled an all-nighter in college to study an entire textbook for the exams. It turns out you were actually at your most creative state and you probably wouldn’t have recognized it.
While it is true that all-nighters can have an impact on your attention and coordination, it also what most people don’t know is that it can also unlock creativity.
How is this possible?
When we are well rested and working on a problem, we think of it in a very logical manner and break it down into small tasks. However, if we need to working on something that requires a creative solution, we need a completely different approach.
That’s what sleep deprivation helps us do. It opens up our minds and allows us to think outside the box. What’s more, you aren’t any less effective in your cognitive functions than you would be if you were fully rested.
From Apple’s Wozniak to The Beatles, pulling all-nighters have led to some creative and historic breakthroughs.
With All-Nighters, Some Conditions Apply
Of course, it’s not as easy as just taping your eyes open. Whether you’re working day or night (or day and night!) there are certain rules that apply important tips to get the most of your power hours:
1. Take breaks and naps
Just like working throughout the day, you should take a quick nap during an all-nighter.
Think of napping as a sort of ‘refresh’ button. A quick nap of 20 to 30 minutes will restore your energy and alertness. It will also help you relax and relieve stress.
When you feel yourself losing concentration, don’t try to keep soldiering on. Take a nap and when you wake up you’ll feel much better and your productivity will increase.
2. Stay hydrated
The Mayo Clinic says even mild dehydration can make you tired and less productive.
It’s actually quite easy to become mildly dehydrated and you won’t not even realize it. Your body is losing water at all times so you need to keep replenishing it.
Keep a bottle of water nearby at all times. You may not actually feel thirsty but you should keep track of how much you are drinking and try to have at least a minimum of three liters.
And stay away from the alcohol. It’s a scientific fact that alcohol dehydrates you, and you know it doesn’t do your productivity any favors!
3. Keep warm
You might think colder temperatures keep you more alert, but you actually make more mistakes when you’re cold. A study shows that employees make 44% more mistakes at a lower temperature environment.
When you’re cold, you spend a lot of energy trying to keep your body warm. This means you have less energy available for concentration. In fact, our brains associate physical warmth with psychological warmth. So warmer environments actually make us feel more content and happier than cold environments.
So next time you have a creative project come up and a deadline fast approaching, see what you can accomplish by trading in a night of sleep. Remember to take some breaks, stay hydrated and keep warm to comfortably fight inevitable mental blocks and heavy eyelids. Who knows what you can achieve in the wee hours of the night — the possibilities are exciting.
If you’ve had a recent breakthrough during an all-nighter, we’d love to hear about it! Leave us a comment below.