How to pull an ‘all-nighter’ The dry eyes edition

Ok, first of all, don’t.

Second, if you are, then you need to get your shit together and learn some time management skills. But that being said, life does get in the way and the 9 to 5 workday no longer exists. All-nighters are sadly a fact of life, and at some point, you will need to pull one. So if your gonna do something, you may as well do it right.

Today we are reviewing one of the most visible parts your body you will punish when you pull an all-nighter. Your eyes, your poor, sore, dry and blood-shot little eyeballs.

Our eyes, like the rest of our body, need sleep (between 7-9 hours a night). When you pull an all-nighter, you deprive them of the opportunity to rest and replenish.

Often you’ll find that the scratchy sore feeling develops 2-3 hours after what would have been your usual bedtime. This is especially true in a coding binge where you are focusing for hours on a screen right in front of you. Optometrists call this set of symptoms Asthenopia, also known as tired-eyes or eye-strain.

So why do they get this way?

Well, theres a couple of interconnected reasons. The first is that our little tiny extraocular muscles that control our eyeball movement and eyelid elevation (for blinking) get tired. This means they can’t maintain the rate that we usually blink. Less blinking means fewer tears spread out over your eye so it will dry out quicker than normal. You’ll notice your vision will blur and its hard to focus. This is a result of the smaller muscles that control pupilar reaction becoming fatigued. You will also have a slow down in the reaction time to low or super bright levels of light. All of this strain generates fluid buildup through inflammation making tear generation harder and harder.

The workaround

Eye drops

These will place artificial tears on the eye and provide the much-needed moisture they are craving. Some work better than others for different people, you might want to try a few. Make sure to change bottles every month or so to avoid giving yourself infections. Conjunctivitis is gross.

Step away from the computer


Every 20 – 30 minutes give those ballers a break. When you use a computer, your blink rate drops on average from 5-6 blinks per minute to just 2 – 3. Fewer blinks, more dryness. You also want to get your other muscles that are straining hard to focus a break.

Use a cool eye compress


Take 10-15 minutes to use a cool (not frozen) eye compress to reduce the inflammation in your eyes. This will aid in relieving any headaches you are getting because of the eye strain.

Put your specs on!


Ahh, the catch-cry your mum for those of you who wore them as a kid. Your glasses will help reduce the strain your eyes are under. That’s why you got them. If you wear contacts switch to your set of glasses if you can. Contacts worsen dry eyes when worn for long periods, like the 36 hours of hell you are getting through.

Adjust your lighting


A dim room will force your eyes to work harder than they need to. Natural light is prefered but, you know, it is probably night time. So use a bright bulb, 100 Watts (6500K), to light up your workspace. Some people prefer halogen bulbs over fluorescent citing improved focus. Agreed. There has been an excessive amount of organisational research into the effects of light on productivity. Light up your workspace!

Use a humidifier


Humidifiers put some moisture back in the air to help with the dryness in your eyes. Your nose and throat will also thank you as your mucal membranes will suffer from the lack of sleep and dry up as well. Internal heating and cooling, particularly evaporative airconditioning will suck the moisture out of the air so if you live in a hot or cold climate, think about buying a humidifier.

Right, I hope these tips aid in a successful and less painful all-nighter. Look out for more guides in the ‘How to pull an all-nighter’ series. In the meantime, I have three words for you, TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS.