For the average person who isn’t neurotically organized, the next 24-36 hours will be go-time for us, as we rush to tie up all the loose ends before Christmas morning. Between last-minute shopping, holiday baking and wrapping presents galore, many of us will be burning the midnight oil for the next 2 days. And it certainly didn’t help that we magically lost an extra week of Christmas prep, with the American Thanksgiving falling a week later than usual. So how can one stay up late, in a healthy and productive way, so you can get it all done and not feel like a total zombie? As a self-proclaimed 6-hours-a-night sleeper, I’ve learned a thing or two to help me function efficiently on just a few hours of sleep when workloads are high. While many people are at their best with a full night’s sleep, these tips will at least help you get through the next couple of days, in as healthy a way as possible, free of sugary energy drinks or any other ill, habit-forming medications. After all, sleep is for December 26th, right?
Get Engaged In An Activity 1 of 7
This goes without saying, but if you need to stay up late to get stuff done, or just want to stay awake longer for kicks, get busy doing something. Whether it be wrapping presents, taking a walk around the block, putting together a toy, or doing some last-minute crafting, keeping your brain and hands busy will engage your synapses, and usually give you a second burst of energy. Nothing will put you in the mood for night-night time as snuggling in bed with a cozy blanket and a book.
Put on a Great Movie 2 of 7
If you have busy work to do, then great music, or a great movie you've seen over and over again will help keep your attention but won't distract you too much for your work on hand. For me, Love Actually, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and the White Christmas marathon will keep me awake until the wee hours of the night. Researchers at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found two or more hours of exposure to backlit devices, like TV's and tablets, suppresses melatonin by as much as 22%. While prolonged suppression of melatonin may lead to trouble falling asleep at night, it's non-habit forming and comes free of sugar spikes as found in many energy drinks.
Drink Caffeinated Tea 3 of 7
Chugging coffee from morning till night can give you the jitters and lead to acid reflux, stomach aches and headaches. For a "cleaner" caffeine buzz, try drinking a caffeinated tea. lack teas have the most caffeine, followed by green, then white. While tea doesn't usually beat coffee in the caffeine factor, a strong cup of black tea comes mighty close, and with additional antioxidants and lower acidity than coffee.
Eat a High-Protein Snack 4 of 7
Staying up late, you'll be tempted to munch on something crunchy like chips and popcorn, or indulge in your sweet tooth by eating ice cream right out of the container, or helping yourself to your coworker's famous chocolate chip cookies. But fixing a craving with empty calories and high amounts of sugar will leave you just craving more, and will often lead to sugar spikes and crashes. Instead, go for some string cheese and a slice of sandwich meat, or a cup of yogurt.
According to the Daily Beast, "Protein stimulates a neurotransmitter in your brain called orexin. It regulates arousal, wakefulness, and appetite. In fact, researchers hypothesize that modafinil, the real-world drug most like the fictional drug from the movie Limitless works in part because it increases orexin." Sounds like a good reason to skip the cookies and go for the lean protein.
Drink Lots Of Water 5 of 7
It's probably no surprise that drinking water when pulling an all-nighter would be a bit better for you and your body than downing an energy drink or a glass of wine. But it can also help you stay awake longer by allowing red blood cells to carry oxygen more efficiently, resulting in improved muscle function and increased mental alertness. It also helps to curb your appetite, which is essential when staying up late, since studies prove your body and brain need more calories when it's tired, and your body usually craves junk calories late at night. So drink up, and in good health!
Chew Gum 6 of 7
Multiple studies have shown a link to chewing gum, and improvements in mood and alertness. In terms of it helping you stay awake, researchers from a study published in the journal Physiology and Behaviour, found that the arousing mint flavors often found in chewing gum can help increase cerebral activity, helping you stay awake just a bit longer. Good news for study-weary students, and parents hoping to be a bit more productive late at night.
Brush Your Teeth 7 of 7
Peppermint has long been believed to be a natural stimulant, and since most toothpastes have some sort of mint flavoring, whether natural or artificial, giving your pearly whites a brush late at night may help you become more alert. If that doesn't work, at least it may help curb your cravings and appetite, and if all else fails, you're at least ready to roll into bed when you finally get the wrapping done.