How to pull an all-nighter

This blog article reminded me of a part of my life that is long past: the times of the all nighter.   Back in my undergrad days, I would fairly regularly pull all-nighters, usually working on some kind of computer programming assignment.   I think this culminated in a massive 72 hour awake-athon, where I consumed over 100 cups of coffee in three days.   I was working the breakfast shift at the cafeteria, doing an easy job, just checking IDs of students who come in and reading the newspaper.   I remember trying to read, and suddenly seeing words suddenly jump off the page.   I decided that hallucinations were a bad sign, and got someone to take my shift, went home and slept for twelve hours.

Shortly after this, I began to notice something: the code that I wrote past midnight was usually really ugly, buggy, and didn’t make much sense the next day.   I also found that programs were just easier to write when I wasn’t tired.   So I created a rule: I simply don’t program past midnight.

As I’ve gotten older, I have begun to realize just how dependent your brain is on being properly fed and rested.   Caffeine just makes you jittery.   Loud music and bright lights just give you a headache.  You need sleep, so sleep.   Plan ahead enough to keep allnighters from becoming a necessity.

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