Need to Be A Night Owl? Try These Tricks to Stay Awake

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Gregory Han)

I used to be a night owl. A midnight movie? No problem! An after-after party? I was there. But, in an interesting turn of life events, I’ve begun getting drowsy embarrassingly early these days. Obviously this means some of my late-night habits have had to change (hello 10:30 bedtime), but when I know I’m going to have to stay up late? I do this stuff.


A little exercise on the day you know you’ll need to be up late can really help your body feel more awake and jazzed for a long night ahead. Don’t go crazy, you don’t want to be completely wiped out. The goal is to feel energized so a little light cardio, yoga (the extra deep breathing works well) or even just a neighborhood walk might be enough.

A disco nap

A short late afternoon nap can really refresh you and make you excited for your evening plans. Don’t spend too long asleep — 20 minutes is a perfect amount of time so you don’t enter a longer REM cycle and wake groggy rather than energized.

(Image credit: Lindsay Tella)

Use caffeine wisely

A well-timed cup of coffee could help you stay alert later than normal, but don’t overshoot your mark and accidentally keep yourself up ALL night. Depending on your tolerance, caffeine can take eight hours to leave your system, so have some after lunch, not after dinner.

Eat lightly

Nothing will make you sleepier than a heavy dinner or a lot of drinks. A well-balanced meal and plenty of water will keep you going. A lot of rich food will only make your body work much harder on digestion (instead of giving you the energy you need). But don’t forget to eat either! You need fuel, especially if you’ll be awake much longer than usual.

Consider the late-night activities you’ll be doing

It’s easiest to stay awake when you’re up, doing stuff, getting the blood pumping. Late night dancing is perfect. It’s hardest when you’re sitting still, especially in the dark. Recipe for disaster? A late movie or long, long play. Try to tailor your late-night activities for success.