How to Stay Up Late

There’s something going on all day and all night at SXSW. How do you stay awake? “The most important thing is to make sure you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per 24,” says Dr. Gregory Belenky, director of Washington State University’s Sleep and Performance Research Center. But they don’t have to be consecutive nighttime hours. The body’s temperature fluctuates naturally throughout the day, and it’s easiest to fall asleep when it drops. You can take advantage of a natural body-temperature decrease in the late afternoon by getting in a quick “disco nap” between work and partying. There is even evidence that splitting up your sleep periods can actually enhance performance.

If you absolutely have to go without sleep, caffeine helps. But keep in mind that the more you consume, the worse job it will do at keeping you awake. Skip it until you really need it. Instead of a morning latte, drink coffee at night when you’re out on the town. Caffeine goes to work anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes after you consume it, and the buzz will last for three to four hours, so plan accordingly. Belenky also recommends moving around as a way to stimulate the brain and stave off sleepiness. Walk instead of taking a cab. Get out on the dance floor. And don’t drink too much. Not only will booze make you tired, but it will also cause sleep disturbances as it wears off—passed-out-drunk sleep is less effective than sober sleep.