While we don’t want to glorify the “sleep is for the weak,” mantra, we can’t deny that enough time for sleep remains a needle in a haystack in college life. Because of this pretty sad reality, we don’t get surprised when we’re welcomed by hell week (or month or semester)’s infamous shadow: all-nighters. Yup, just reading that already fucks me up, too.
When I was in college, I remember trying all the schemes that could possibly work. I’d listen to music I don’t particularly like in full blast, just so I could stay awake and not sing in my head at the same time, but I’d eventually get irked by the music after a couple of hours. I also tried eating cereals while reading. Well, that unfortunately led me to getting completely distracted by all the food in my room.
I wish I scoured more tips when I was an undergrad, but I guess it’s better late than never—so I did it for you. I asked a couple of friends—some college kids and some in the workforce—for some strange survival tips when it comes to staying awake (and not losing your shit). I hope they come in handy. But I also hope you’d get the sleep you’d need, too.
I had this habit of locking myself in the room—even closing the windows—and blasting out either classical music (Mozart, Beethoven, Pachelbel) or EDM (electronic dance music) songs in my speaker. The classical music was for memorizing, studying engineering subjects, reading, etc., and EDM was for drafting, designing, rendering, etc. – Kathleen, junior architect
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk
Whenever I’d feel exhausted or I’d suddenly get sleepy, I’ll just “discuss” a la Ted Talk the topic I need to learn—and that includes laughing with my invisible audience if I have a strange mnemonic. – Diane, registered medical technologist
A temporary good night
I’d take a really quick refreshing nap first, like for 2 to 3 hours, once I get home. Like, I sleep for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., then go for an all-nighter all the way. At least my brain’s ready to work, and I don’t get sleepy at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. if the task is really long. – Jeanne Rachel, training assistant
It all boils down to proper time management. Since I am mostly at gigs, and my friends are aware, we make time by having a group study/inom/bonding session. Sometimes, we do our tasks during gigs so that’d include drinking (laughs). I also juggle it with my graphic design and producer work. – Rick*, musician
Of makeshift pools
Drinking apple juice and milk and eating chocolates would keep me awake. I’d also wash my face every now and then. But if those wouldn’t work, I’d let my feet get soaked in water while reviewing. – Katrina, registered medical technologist
Guess what runs in my blood?
I take a few sips of coffee. Any amount would do but just make sure you won’t be tolerant, because if you do, you’d crave stronger doses. So far, what works for me is iced coffee from Mcdonald’s or iced latte from Starbucks because I drink coffee only once a day. After drinking a bit of coffee, I take a nap. They say 15 minutes would do, but for me, 2 hours is okay as long as you don’t scroll through Twitter or Instagram. When I wake up, I’ll chug another cup of coffee, drink water, then take a bath. There’s some scientific explanation behind drinking coffee and sleeping afterwards… but these are effective for me. But really, the key is good time management (laughs). – Brianne, medical student
2 cool 4 u
The way to keep me up is to consistently eat a spoonful of ice cream every 20 minutes. It should be really cold, and I’d even put the spoon in the freezer. – Jethro, bank operations staff member
I eat a specific brand of peanuts. Every time I need to study or stay up late, I make sure I eat sungsong peanuts—the shelled peanuts, though not exactly boiled—that I buy only at this one Chinese grocery store in Binondo. If it’s not form that store, I’m not going to eat it because I can tell the difference. Ever since I was in grade school, I always considered these peanuts as my “brain food” and I carried that habit with me until college. Eating sungsong peanuts while studying helps me to concentrate and has, I think, improved my memory. So I always swear by this practice (laughs). – Ysabella, organizational communication student
H2O: Just add water
When you feel sleepy, drink lots of water, and I mean lots of water. This will help you pee frequently, do well with blood circulation, and will keep you awake. – Marc, filmmaker
Shut up and dance
I dance, especially if coffee doesn’t work anymore. – Angela, law student
*name has been changed.
These answers were submitted to Jelou Galang and have been edited for cohesion.
Art by Cathy Dizon