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How to Pull Off a Successful All-Nighter

Sleepless nights can be a necessary evil for busy entrepreneurs. Here's how to make the most of them.
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Deadlines can be met a number of ways. There's prioritizing your to-do list; improving your time management skills and working more efficiently, among other strategies. But occasionally, it doesn't matter how productively you spend your time, because there simply is not enough time in the day. The only solution? Pulling an all-nighter.

Research has proven time and time again that lack of sleep is detrimental to productivity, and all-nighters are generally discouraged by health experts. But they can be successfully wielded every now and then, according to sleep expert Eric Olson.

Dr. Olson, the co-director of the Mayo Clinic's Center for Sleep Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, shared the following tips in an article in The Wall Street Journal on how to stay alert during an all-nighter--and how to recover from pulling one:

  1. Monday nights are best. It's easier to go without sleep if you are already well rested. Ideally, a relaxing weekend will prepare you for a night of working late--though, of course, if you're busy enough that you have to pull an all-nighter, your weekends are probably not particularly restful.
  2. Time your caffeine intakes. Coffee can give you a needed boost, but only if you drink it at the right time. "Most people will start to feel pressure to sleep between midnight and 7 a.m., when their circadian rhythm is telling them to shut down," Dr. Olson told the Journal. "Caffeine may help you get through that and through the subsequent day."
  3. Stay away from sugar. Sleeplessness can make you crave carbs, but unhealthy snacking might lead to a sugar crash. Dr. Olson recommends trading out sugary snacks for protein bars in order to stay energized.
  4. Resist the temptation to crawl into bed. "Your brain has an association with sleep in the bedroom," says Dr. Olson. "You'd be better off in a well-lighted place like a 24-hour coffee shop. The light, the noise, the caffeine--they'd all promote wakefulness."
  5. Take a nap the next day. The best way to recover is by taking a nap after lunch, followed by a full night of uninterrupted sleep. If possible, don't set an alarm--allowing yourself to wake up naturally will promote the feeling of being well rested.
IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: May 21, 2014

AMY WHYTE

Amy Whyte is an editorial intern for Inc. magazine. Previously, she worked as a Web intern at WAAY TV.




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