Blog Students Exam Tips How to Burn Midnight Oil Effectively to Study for Your Exams

How to Burn Midnight Oil Effectively to Study for Your Exams

For students who find themselves pressed for study time, doing all-nighters to catch up with their studies is unavoidable.

Sometimes, they end up doing it constantly if they are facing a major exam or project deadline. While some believe these all-nighters are bad for students since they lose sleep, others say it is beneficial.

Advantages of studying late at night

Every person is different when it comes to studying. Some people find it easier to study during the night before going to bed. Others find it easier to study during the wee hours of the morning.

Around these hours, you are guaranteed not to be disturbed since everyone else around you is preparing to go to sleep. At night, you have all the time in the world to catch up without having to push yourself to finish your studies.

Some people even say they find it easier to study at night because they remember things easier, especially if you are determined to succeed. If you are not putting yourself into your studies during these hours, you will end up forgetting what you just read. However, you can try these memory techniques to overcome this difficult exam period.

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Disadvantages of burning midnight oil

However, missing sleep is bad for your health.

Sleep allows us to recharge our batteries which we will need for the next day.

If we do not have sleep, we will find it hard to focus on what we are doing and we are less productive. If you come to class with lacking sleep, you may end up experiencing memory difficulties, this can make studying a lot harder.

It also compromises your overall health if you do it regularly.

If you find it unavoidable to do some late-night studying, especially for a test, here are some ways to help you stay awake:

Be uncomfortable

Don’t let yourself idle while you read your books and study. If you only focus on one thing during this period, chances are, you might end up falling asleep even if you don’t want to.

Give yourself a kickstart by doing things that will make you uncomfortable like sitting in an awkward position or as you read, you can do squats or pull-ups. It’ll help you to stay awake better.

Don’t even try to study while lying on your bed. I bet you’ll fall asleep until the next morning!

Move your body

Some of us can fall asleep easily in minutes if they find the right angle to sleep.

Around the late hours, it can be a lot faster for us to sleep since our body knows its time to rest. Some may even find themselves asleep even if their intention is only to close their eyes for a short break.

To prevent yourself from falling asleep, do some exercise or just move around every half hour. You can also do other things like get a drink, cook, jog or type something randomly on your phone. Exercising can actually help you to study well. 

One secret tip that I always use is to set an alarm on my mobile for every half hour and I’ll place my mobile in the other room so I’ll need to get out of my seat, walk out of my room to off the alarm in the other room.

Work in short bursts

Some people can focus for a long period of time, while others have a short attention span.

To keep yourself focused throughout your late-night study hours, pace your studies with other activities.

For example, you can focus on studying for 30 minutes, then take a short break before starting on another subject for 30 minutes.

Stock Up (Cautiously) on Caffeine

Caffeine is a great way to keep yourself up if you are feeling sleepy at any hour of the day.

However, too much caffeine can be dangerous, especially as it can affect your body clock and prevent you from going to sleep even if you are not drinking it.

Once you finish your all-nighter, don’t drink any caffeine for 6 hours before you go to sleep.

Have a Midnight Snack

Some studies say that eating in late hours can help the body produce insulin to keep one up all night.

You can stop your studies for a bit to prepare yourself a meal to chew on and keep you alert. However, pick foods that are low-calorie and low-carb since high-calorie and carb food can make you sleepy.

If you have no idea what foods to try for your all-nighter, try making light snacks using fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also try out cheese cubes, peanut butter, and a low-sodium diet. We have great examples of healthy organic food that can help fight exam stress and anxiety.

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Fight Fatigue with Focus

When you are focusing on something, you can forget about everything else. In this case, focus on what your body is saying to help you get rid of your sleepiness.

If your eyes are starting to get blurry and you feel warm, perhaps its time for you to take a break and go to sleep.

To keep you up when you sense these signals, go take a break and do something that can keep you up. I like to play virtual games on my PS4 to drive my adrenaline up and it instantly refreshes my senses. Just remember to limit yourself to 15 mins of gameplay.

Drink Lots of Cold Water

Cold water can keep you up during late hours and keep you hydrated.

Your brain needs water to continue operating properly and the toilet breaks water induces can help you stay alert and keep your body moving.

The cold chill it brings your body can also help you relax and focus.

Take a Cold Shower

If you really want to keep yourself up at late hours, you can try giving yourself a cold shower.

As mentioned in the previous tip, cold water can wake you up and give your body a jumpstart. But, make sure that the water is not freezing cold when you do it.

You do not want to fall sick during your exam period!


Every student has their own preference when it comes to how they study. If you are the type of student who works well at night, it is crucial that you know how to keep yourself up during your studies without having to compromise your health.

If you need to do late-night cramming, these tips above can help you focus and achieve your study goals. But, once you are done with your exam, do your body a favour and get some sleep.

Remember, too much of something is not good for you and if you keep doing all-nighters, it can put your body at risk to other health problems. You may even find yourself unable to sleep even if you really want to and you don’t want that to happen.

If you’re awfully close to examinations and ill-prepared, you can consider taking a crash course from one of our private tutors. Smiletutor provides short-term tuition as well. For more information, give us a call at +65 6266 4475.

Need exams tips at the last minute? Here are some helpful articles:

How To Start Your Intensive Revision For A-Levels General Paper?
9 Last-Minute Exam Preparation Tips To Save Your Life


Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.