5 Steps for Recovering After Pulling an All-Nighter

Running on no sleep? Here's how to ensure that you stay alert and productive.

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By Josh Axe


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you’ve been in business for yourself any length of time, or are in the process of getting your business off the ground, you know that entrepreneurship is both fulfilling and draining. The satisfaction that comes with running the show is tempered by the fact that, when it’s all on the line and the work has to be done, you’re responsible. And sometimes that means staying up until the next day breaks to meet a looming deadline.

Now that you know all-nighters aren’t just for college kids cramming for final exams, you also know that you can’t just crash after you’ve stayed up all night. So next time you pull an all-nighter, follow these steps to ensure that you’re fully recovered and alert they next day.

Related: 10 Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine

Load up on B vitamins

When you’re up all night working, your body uses more of its B vitamins—including B12, one of your body’s key energy sources. So in addition to feeling exhausted the next day, the depletion of your B12 stores can lead to a variety of symptoms, including impaired cognitive function and an overall crappy mood. Get back on track by consuming B12-rich foods like grass-fed beef or cottage cheese throughout the day, or by taking an all-natural, food-based supplement.

Related: The 10 Biggest Productivity Killers and How to Overcome Them

Supplement with ginseng

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the body’s adrenal glands that is released in response to normal daily functions, including waking up in the morning. Cortisol levels are lowest in the middle of the night when you’re typically sleeping, but when you’re up late, those elevated levels of cortisol can put your body in a literal state of stress, spiking blood pressure, causing anxiety and mood swings and lowering your immune response.

There are several adaptogenic herbs that can help naturally regulate cortisol levels, but ginseng is the most popular and effective. Grab some at your local health food store, and in addition to feeling less grouchy about operating on no sleep, you’ll help sharpen brain function so you can actually be productive.

Avoid sugar and grains

Foods high in sugar and carbs can offer a quick burst of energy—something you’ll definitely be looking for after an all-nighter. In fact, being sleepy can increase cravings for those foods because of the short-term high they provide. But the problem with sugar, grains and other high-carbohydrate foods is that they cause a blood sugar crash shortly after consumption, completely tanking your energy levels and making you feel worse than before. Avoid jumping on the carbo-crash cycle and opt for meals that include protein, fiber and healthy fat for energy that lasts.

Related: 7 Million-Dollar Habits of the Super Successful

Add in coconut oil

It may seem like eating more fat may bog you down and leave you feeling sluggish instead of rejuvenated, and that’s certainly the case if you consume the wrong kind of fat. Opt for coconut oil, instead, and the medium-chain fatty acids it contains will be sent directly to the liver where they will be processed and immediately converted to energy (instead of being stored as fat).

Not sure how to work coconut oil into your diet? Use it as a cooking oil, add a spoonful to your smoothie or mix 1 tablespoon each of coconut oil, raw honey and chia seeds for a quick, homemade energy fuel.

Take a (longer) nap

Ultimately, no matter what you eat or how you supplement, the best remedy for an all-nighter hangover is sleep. Science has proven the effectiveness of short naps to increase alertness during the day, but if you’ve had little or no sleep the night before, a longer nap will be more effective in providing sustained energy and improved cognitive function to help you power through the rest of the day.

Aim for a 1.5- to 2-hour nap (long enough to get you through one complete sleep cycle, so you don’t wake up more tired), and be sure to get it in before 3 p.m. or you may have difficulty getting back to sleep the following night.

Related: This Is Your Brain on Not Enough Sleep (Infographic)

Josh Axe

Nutrition Specialist and Doctor

Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He operates one of the world's largest natural health websites at www.DrAxe.com.

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