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How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter

By: Dave Asprey

How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter
  • Seeking tricks on how to stay awake after a sleepless night? Read on to learn more about hydrating with water, caffeine dosing, enhancing your diet, taking smart drugs and supplements, balancing your gut bacteria, getting sunlight, moving your body, and resetting your body with rest.

Need to learn how to stay awake after a sleepless night? Make no mistake, all-nighters do nothing for your health. Less sleep raises blood pressure[1] and adversely affects your stress hormone, cortisol, levels.[2] However, emergency room physicians pull all-nighters all the time, so it’s not an impossible feat. Though it’ll take a couple days to recover fully, these next-day hacks will boost your performance and expand your limits when an all-nighter is inevitable. Here’s how to stay awake — and perform like a badass — when you’ve gotten zero shuteye.

Drink water

How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter_drink water

To be alert and focused after an all-nighter, one of the most important things you can do is stay hydrated. Because you stayed up all night and use more water when you’re awake than when you’re asleep, your water reserves will be lower than normal. Your adrenal glands, which produce the hormones that manage your stress, will be also working overtime due to lack of sleep. However, water is vital to helping them function properly[3] – so drink up.

Most people will feel more alert if they mix half a teaspoon of high-quality pink Himalayan salt in a large glass of water first thing in the morning after an all-nighter. Salt wakes up your adrenals and gets you revved up to tackle the day regardless of last night.

Power through with caffeine

How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter_Power through with caffeine

Coffee is an obvious weapon when it comes to staying awake on no sleep. To maintain energy throughout the day, try smaller doses of caffeine (50 to 100 milligrams) peppered throughout the day. (Keep in mind, one 8-ounce cup of coffee equals 95-165 milligram of caffeine.) I recommend drinking Bulletproof Coffee instead of taking it black or with sweetener. This way, you’ll be adding brain-nourishing fat to your morning cup — and it will offset hunger, which always ignites after a sleepless night.[4] Learn how to make Bulletproof Coffee here.

Maximize your diet for energy

How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter_Maximize your diet for energy

Another how to stay awake hack: Make sure your diet contains low-glycemic starch. Think of starch as time-released energy. Since eating high-glycemic foods, like white rice, makes you sleepy[5], aim for the opposite. Some low-glycemic Bulletproof vegetables include sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, and pumpkins. Feed your sleep-deprived self an additional serving of protein, as well. Protein boosts levels of orexin, a neurotransmitter that helps keeps you awake.[6] In fact, studies at UCLA in monkeys found that snorting orexin via a nasal spray reversed the effects of sleep deprivation.[7]

Keto Bonus:  If you’re sleepy though still aiming for ketosis –you haven’t eaten through that long night – use Brain Octane Oil to keep the ketones flowing through your body. BOO will energize you when food doesn’t.  

Take Modafinil to fight fatigue

How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter_Take Modafinil to fight fatigue

Modafinil, a smart drug or nootropic that enhances your cognitive function, works as a wakefulness-promoting agent. It’s been shown to be a non-addictive means to increase your resistance to fatigue and improve your mood.[8] Thirty to 50 mg of modafinil lasts for approximately 6-8 hours in a healthy adult. Take it first thing in the morning after an all-nighter (with or without food). Talk to your doctor about Modafinil as a possibility for you, as it requires a prescription. Read more about the benefits of Modafinil here.

Supplement to destress your system

How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter_Supplement to destress your system

Another how-to-stay-awake trick? Take 2.5 to 5 mg of bioidentical cortisol, also known as Cortef. Note: This will require a prescription. Though cortisol, when taken under a doctor’s supervision and tapered over a week, can dramatically improve your stressed-out, groggy symptoms and reduce your odds of getting sick. Take it in the middle of the night, in the morning, and midday the day after your sleepless night. If you don’t have access to cortisol in prescription form, adaptogenic herbs and adrenal glandulars help ease stress too.

Speaking of supplementation, I wouldn’t dream of pulling an all-nighter without Ketoprime and Unfair Advantage, which support mitochondrial cell function and make them beneficial to your overall health. I take three Ketoprime under my tongue, and that has revived me more than once from an all-nighter crash.”

Keep your gut bacteria in check

How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter_Keep your gut bacteria in check

Most people don’t know that gut bacteria have a circadian rhythm. They get stressed when you don’t sleep all night, and subsequently pump out more toxins called lipopolysaccharides that make you feel inflamed, tired, and cranky. Take 1,000 mg of activated charcoal to move them out of your body swiftly and safely.

Get sunlight

How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter_Get sunlight

To fight grogginess and stay awake, expose yourself to at least 20 minutes of sunlight in the morning following a late night. Sunlight helps regulate your melatonin levels[9], biological clock hormones that get out of whack with insufficient sleep. If you can’t get sunlight, sit under a 500-watt white halogen bulb in the morning to help your circadian rhythms reset themselves.

Related: Light Hacking for Better Energy, Mood, and Performance

Move your body  

How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter_Move your body

Exercise should be one of the first activities you do in the morning to stay awake after an all-nighter. It’ll raise your body temperature as well as your heart rate. There are even studies in rats showing that exercise prevents anxious behaviors that stem from sleep deprivation.[10] What kind of exercise should you do? Something that gets you going but doesn’t increase your stress levels — you have enough sleep stress that you don’t need exercise stress too. This is not the time for a serious high-intensity interval training workout. Aim for a brisk walk instead.

Get to bed early

How to Stay Awake After an All-Nighter_go to bed early

While you might want to sneak in a nap after your all-nighter, trust me when I say it’s the worst idea. You’ll wake up feeling groggy, and you’ll throw your circadian rhythm off, too. Instead, go to bed early the night after your all-nighter. Typically in bed by 10 PM? Aim for an hour earlier. Also control your light exposure: dim the lights and block the light as the sun sets. Definitely don’t stare at bright screens. You’re going to want to help your body reset its circadian rhythm the night after, and junk light will just set you back.

Related: Sleep Hacking to Improve Your Sleep

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