Looking Great The Day After the All-Nighter

Tips for Looking Great the Day After the All-Nighter2017 Update: We’ve still stand by this advice on looking great the day after the all-nighter, but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion of the best makeup products to fake a good night’s sleep.

We’ve all been there — stuff needs to get done, and stuff needs to get done now. In the high-stress job, the all-nighter (sometimes several nights in a row!) is par for the course. One of my former bosses once said she reveled in looking like crap the next day — that she wore it as a badge of honor. Me: not so much.  If you look sloppy and tired and incoherent, well, that’s how you tend to get treated (and sometimes the treatment lasts far longer than the sleep deprivation).

Pictured: IMG_9636, originally uploaded to Flickr by mikebitton.

So, that said, here are my tips for how to avoid looking and acting like the walking dead — in other words, the guide to looking great the day after the all-nighter:

1. Get as much quality sleep as you can. Your goal on these nights is to complete as many sleep cycles as possible. There are four stages to sleep; the final stage is REM sleep. It generally takes 90 minutes to finish a full cycle, but it can vary, so play around with it.  (2017 Update: the SleepCycle app for your iPhone is going to be a lifesaver here, because it wakes you up at the best time in your REM cycle.) My point here is that once you get home from the office, figure out how many 90-minute cycles you can get in. Go for solid numbers of sleep cycles, because it’s a little like doing your laundry: if you’re interrupted halfway through you’re worse than you were before. Note that a sleeping pill will interrupt your sleep cycles (as will other chemical aids). In general, if you remember your dreams, you’re waking up in the middle of a cycle.

2. Force your skin to look young and awake, even if you feel anything but. Almost every skin care line has masks or lotions that use natural acids to exfoliate the skin and promote the skin’s turnover rate. If you’re loyal to one skincare brand, check that line first. 2017 Update: here’s a good page from skincare brand Paula’s Choice on the difference between AHA and BHA products — and here’s a link to the best-selling exfoliators at Nordstrom.

3. Ward off colds. No, an on-coming cold doesn’t really affect the way you look, but after a sleepless night your immune system will be vulnerable. If you’re a fan of zinc or echinacea, now’s the time to take a peremptory hit.  You may also want to try some Emergen-C packetsicon — you add them to 8 oz of water and the Kool-Aid type concoction gives you more than 1000% of you Vitamin C for the day. (Especially for when the office emergency has passed and you’re now just trying to make it to the end of the day, I prefer an Emergen-C packet to coffee for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up — no caffeine crash.)

4. Depuff your eyes. The adage says the eyes are the window to your soul — so it’s best to avoid that blank, swollen look in your eyes. Before you leave the house, apply something cold to your eye area. Tea bags soaked in cold water will do in a pinch, but a gel mask is far less messy. Second, invest in a good eye cream — let’s face it, this area always needs help. 2017 Update: my current favorite is from “Sleepwear for Eyes” from Bioelements, but the Kiehls’ or Estee Lauder recovery eye creams also look awesome. Also, Visine is handy if your eyes are very red (but avoid using it daily — I’ve heard the ingredient that gets the red out will eventually stop working.)  If your eyes are continuously dry and sore, I luuurve TheraTearsicon — they’re preservative-free and come in both a regular liquid and a super-duper thick and soothing gel.

5. Choose a safe outfit. Trust me, today isn’t the day to experiment with that new trend you just read about. Even if it’s going to be a low key day, I suggest going ultra safe here: pull out your interview suit or some other outfit you’ve worn a thousand times, and pull your hair back into a bun or another easy office updo. The look you’re going for is clean, professional, and most of all, coherent.

Readers, what are your best tips for looking great the day after an all nighter and functioning normally?  What products are your favorites?

looking great the day after the all nighter: a guide for women lawyers and other demanding fields!
For some professions (BigLaw!), it's not uncommon to have to pull an all-nighter -- and then being expected to show up and function at work! If you want to look great the day after the all-nighter, these are some of our best tips to avoid looking like the walking dead...

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  1. Any vitamin supplement that touts it’s “1000%” vitamin C content is just pumping up its marketing. Vitamin C is water soluble, which means that your body can’t absorb any extra than it can use in a given day, and the rest will just be eliminated. It’s way better to get just 100% every day than 1000% every week – your body will only take it’s 100 percent and get rid of the extra.

    • karenpadi :

      That is the current thinking, yes. But I’d disagree that Emergen-C packets are a hoax. Unlike a glass of OJ, I don’t get the sugar crash 15 minutes later. For me, they really do ward off colds on plane flights and keep me awake without caffeine after a long night (I can’t drink caffeine anymore without bad side effects).

      Of course, YMMV. And Emergen-C may just be a placebo. But, hey, at least it’s not toxic.

      • Agreed. Not pretending it’s a miracle, but it makes a noticeable difference in how I feel if I am sick, have allergies, pulled an all nighter, need to pull an all nighter, am hungover, and/or have or want to avoid having terrible jetlag.

        • Any difference in the way you feel is probably more attributable to the electrolytes that Emergen-C contains. My powerlifting coach swears they work better than Gatorade/Powerade/etc., but with much less sugar. I train in a gym with no air conditioning (in DC!), and they really helped me get through my workouts this summer.

          So I’d say they’re probably not a hoax, but for a different reason than the primary focus of their advertising. :-)

          • I have found that when I stay up late, I MUST put Nivea cream on my face. Then, I let it SIT for an HOUR before washing it off.

            I NEVER drink alchohol ever since my EX-Boyfriend started in with it. Instead I ONLY have ICE Tea when I go out.

            At work, I try NOT to work past 8:00 pm, especially since the MANAGEING PARTNER does NOT want to pay for me to get a cab ride home. FOOEY on him!

            If I have to take a subway, I will do so before 8:00 pm, since I do NOT live within walking distence.

            Finalley I try to get 8 hours of sleep EVERY day, and if I do not, I am not as functionel at work.

  2. Eat a healthy/nutritious breakfast, skip sugary foods and pace your caffeine intake. It’s easy to reach for the blueberry muffin and super venti coffee with 10 shots of expresso to jolt your system awake, but I find that always causes me to crash by the time lunch time rolls around. I have found that I feel less groggy and (some what) more awake if have something like oatmeal, fruit, eggs and limit my coffee intake to just one cup (albeit, it may be one big cup).

  3. How do you determine when it is time to buy a new car? Any and all thoughts welcome. TIA.

    • IMO, when your current car is dead and unsalvageable, or when it costs a few thousand dollars a year to keep it running.

    • How much are you spending to maintain the car? Once you get to the point where you’re putting in a couple of thousand dollars in a year, it can often be worth it just to get something new with a warranty.

      Additionally, you may be able to get much better gas mileage. My car is only 6 years old and the newest model of my car gets about 6-10 mpg more than my model gets. I don’t put many miles on my car, but if I did, that would be a key deciding factor for me.

    • It also depends on what is going on the car. If you put in a few thousand dollars because of brakes, tires, starter, battery etc. and other routine maintenance then it might not be time. Once you start having electrical, emissions and other major problems then it is time to trade it in. I usually find its time when I don’t feel comfortable driving it anymore for fear of breaking down.

    • AutoWorker :

      IMHO: Consider the amount you can get for your current car, consider the amount of monthly car payments and possible insurance increase ($700/month pays for an awful lot of repairs!), then consider the cost of a three-year-old car or a new vehicle lease (if that’s how you do your finances).
      Consider the upcoming costs of a new car (e.g. buying new snow tires — 19″ snows are very expensive).
      Also, there is no shame in just wanting a change for change sake if you can afford it.

    • S in Chicago :

      Maybe it’s just the worrier I am, but I think it’s good to look before you need to look. I spent several months researching before I bought my latest car (highly recommend you look at total cost of ownership over years). I bought the model and year I wanted from a dealership used with the upgrades that I wanted and very low miles–and still covered under a very generous manufacturer’s warranty. I couldn’t have done as well if I were pressured by time. So for me, I tend to think it’s when you start to realize you’re hitting high mileage for the type of car you’re driving (and know you have the savings ready). If you’re buying new, then perhaps the comparative shopping isn’t as big of a deal.

      • Interested in this as well. I drive a 10+ year old super-reliable (thus far, knock on wood) but extremely un-stylish sedan. I’m starting to feel like I need to trade it in for appearance’s sake. I definitely have the crappiest car of any of my colleagues (attorneys at a mid-sized boutique that pays fairly well). But it is also paid-for while my student loans are not. And I’m just not a car person so don’t really care what I drive. And when we take clients to dinner, no one ever makes me drive. ;)

  4. A little shimmer in the corners of your eyes and blush can do wonders

    • Second, especially the blush.

    • SAlit-a-gator :

      True story….after an all nighter I skipped the brush and was looking very pale. My secretary stood at the corner of my office and announced in a voice loud enough for anybody to hear: “You look so pale. Are you preagnant?” Needless to say I was not preagnant, but completly mortified.

      I’ve never skipped blush since.

    • Makeup Junkie :

      I see your blush and raise you a thin swipe of eyeliner and lots of mascara

      • Mascara is a must for me everyday, sleep deprived or not. I feel like a schleppy boy without it!

  5. My thoughts:

    1) If you have time to shower, I have found that taking a warm shower and then hitting my scalp and face with some cold water helps wake me up a bit.

    2) Vitamin B complex. I have found the B vitamins to be an excellent pick me up (and useful in fighting off headaches). Liquid B vitamins typically taste nasty, but are the fastest acting.

    3) Take care of your eyes. Eye cream, cold compresses and eye drops (used appropriately) can be miracle workers. My experience is that my eyes have a lot of control over how the rest of my body (and brain) feel. If I can wake them up, I can usually get myself functioning pretty well. That being said, the day after an all nighter is an excellent time to lay off the eye makeup as much as possible as these are temporary fixes that will likely need some touching up and I’m much more likely to smear eye makeup when I’m tired (due to eyes watering and absent minded rubbing of tired eyes).

    4) Pay attention to what you eat. It is tempting to eat junk after an all nighter for the short term rush, but it comes with a crash. Try to eat healthy foods. Protein, especially fish, helps me stay awake and alert.

  6. Anyone have any suggestions on how to pack a salad for lunch that a) doesn’t get all over the place, and b) doesn’t get soggy?

    • Bring it in a bigger container than you need so you can toss it, and bring the salad dressing in an extra tupperwear container. Make sure you put the container in a plastic bag in case it leaks.

      • Diana Barry :

        Ditto, and also consider putting wet ingredients (eg cut tomato) in a separate tupperware.

    • Dressing should be separate, heaviest ingredients should go on the bottom, lightest (lettuce leaves, etc.) on top). One of the best containers to transport salad is actually a mason jar, though admittedly doesn’t work for everyone as you need to keep a bowl at work.

    • Might not be exactly what you’re going for, but I made a few pasta salads for this week and the one I just ate was soo tasty – rainbow rotini with tomato, three kinds of peppers, carrots, broccoli and some chopped ham for heft. I tossed it in ranch dressing – yum. Everything can be shoved in the container at once, and then shaken again right before you dumpt it on a plate. You can go lighter by omitting the ham (maybe add chicken or turkey instead) and picking a non-creamy dressing. It made me really want to eat all my veggies.

      For another non-traditional salad, my boyfriend likes it when I make him a taco salad. I’m a big fan of the smaller ziploc containers so I start with that for dressing, do a baggy each of lettuce, old tortilla chips, and leftover filling goes in a larger container. Once at work he dumps it all in the container with the filling and mixes it up.

    • For the soggy aspect, pack the dressing separately. If you don’t want to bring a separate container, put the dressing in the bottom of your container first, and then pile the veggies/meats on top of that, and then lettuce on top.

    • Research, not Law :

      Salad Blaster Bowl from the Container Store. http://www.containerstore.com/shop/kitchen/foodontheGo/foodContainers?productId=10010739. It’s one of those overly-specific products that seem ridiculous… until you use it. It’s perfect for on-the-go salads.

      Other than that, bigger container than necessary (or keep dishes at work) and keep dressing separate. I like baby food containers, but any small, water-tight container works.

      • This! I have one and love it.

        If my salad bowl is dirty, I’ve been known to throw my dressing, meat and veggies in a round tupperware bowl, and my spinach/lettuce in a ziplock baggie. At lunch time, I add the greens, replace the lid, and toss to combine.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        Yep, I have this too!

      • Third. I have something similar.

    • Thanks, everyone! Is it possible to prepare it the night before or am I crazy?

      • If you keep all ingredients separate and covered, you can get everything prepared several days ahead of time. I chop everything up Sunday then grab handfuls of veggies/whatever in the morning.

    • I usually just use a bigger tupperware container (not one of those cheapo disposable kinds). I put all the wet ingredients on the bottom and then put the lettuce on top. When it’s time to eat, I shake the container to distribute the dressing. This method generally keeps the lettuce from getting soggy.

    • I’m big on tuna salad for lunch. I mix the tuna, oil and vinegar, and seasoning together in a tupperware bowl, put the lettuce/veggies in a ziplock bag, and dump the lettuce in the bowl when I’m ready to eat. I like cherry tomatoes, unsliced, so I put those in the bowl with the tuna, so they don’t get smashed in the bag. I just had that for lunch, plus a peach, it was pretty good.

      I keep a bottle of salad dressing in the fridge here at work for when I want a salad with grilled chicken or something like that. I put the lettuce/veggies in the tupperware bowl, and the chicken in a ziplock, for those salads. Nothing gets soggy.

    • Anonymous :

      Google “bento” salad or recipes (or whatever). I learned more about packing lunch from a few bento websites than I would have ever thought possible. (Just ignore the elaborate chariben decorated ones.)

      I pack salad in a subdivided lock and lock container. I find as long as you keep the cucumbers and dressing separate, and using cherry or grape tomatoes, it is fine to pack a day or even two ahead. My favorite salad dressing container is from a Japanese supermarket in Manhattan. But I use silicone baking cups and items from the Container Store as well. I called Container Store and all of their containers in the travel section are BPA free. (I like the 1/2 oz cylinder for hummus and the very tiny one for parmesan cheese.)

      But bento websites will completely change the way you view packed lunches!

    • Agree with the huge tupperware, heavy items on bottom, greens on top approach. I put the “dressing” (FN) in a little jar — the ones that room service brings for jam or ketchup — and put it in the top of the tupperware. At lunch time, pour dressing, cover tupperware, shake and eat.

      FN: I put half olive oil and half lemon juice or raspberry or balsamic vinegar in the jar. Better than dressing IMO.

    • Instead of mixing vinegar and oil and packing it into the office every day, I just bought a bottle of good balsamic vinegar to keep in my desk. I just pour that on in place of dressing and I don’t really miss the oil.

      • manoavalleygirl :

        I live in Hawaii, and my salad dressing at work is shoyu (you probably call it soy sauce) with a fresh lemon squeezed over the top. Add cracked pepper, sometimes a little tabasco sauce, and you’re good to go. If salt is a concern, get the low-salt shoyu. I get all of these ingredients in the condiment section of our federal building cafeteria.

  7. Know When To Say "Enough" :

    My rule for all-nighters (when I was in BigLaw and they were a fact of life) was always, “once the brief is out the door, ask a trusted associate/your secretary if there is anything else you need to do today. Discuss what you would do if you stayed. Does that memo that isn’t due until next week really need to be done today? If there is nothing urgent, go home and sleep.”

    The important thing is to get a trusted colleague to help do the analysis. You are in no position to be making decisions like this alone.

    • Not a Washingtonian :

      There’s nothing wrong with asking the partner if s/he’s normal. Normal people know that a lawyer who’s pulled an all-nighter (or two) is not going to be very efficient.

      • Makeup Junkie :

        Hmm I’ve never seen a partner or senior associate pull an all-nighter. It’s always paralegals, contract and 1-5 years attorneys.
        I guess though that you are talking about the morning after

        • Not a Washingtonian :

          Yes. I was talking about the morning after.

        • In my office, you’d never in a million years see a paralegal pull and all-nighter. You have to promise them heaven and earth to get them to stay past 6:00.

          I’ve had senior associates pull all-nighters with me (mid-level associate), and one partner as well, when it’s necessary to work through a major document revision close to a hard closing date.

    • I agree, @Know When to Say Enough. My mouth was hanging open when I read: “Wear an interview suit after an all nighter, pull your hair in a bun,” and pretty much pretend it never happened.” Um, okayyyy. LOL.

  8. I swear by the Emergen-C packets as well. The first “all hands on deck” deal I helped with they bussed them in by the crate-full and, in my opinion, they really work to keep you healthy when you are treating your body poorly.

  9. Don’t forget the H2O. Try to drink a full bottle when you first get going and then go for a cup every hour. This is no time for the added brain fog of dehydration.

    • So true, especially if you’re drinking coffee at the same time.

    • Backgrounder :

      I like your handle. Creative. I read a lot of mystery/thriller/police procedurals and they always are targeting an “unsub.” Also agree on the H2o

  10. AIMS turned me on to Origins Gin-Zing eye cream. It’s the best I have ever found for getting rid of circles!

    Also, although I usually wear contacts, I often do glasses instead on a day when I’m especially sleep-deprived. It allows me to nap briefly in the middle of the day if I get the opportunity, and the frames also distract from my tired-looking eyes and possibly imperfect (or missing) eye makeup.

    • So glad it’s worked for you, Monday! I am still a huge fan of it, too :)

    • This. If I am wearing glasses, it is a sure bet that I worked late the night before and the poor peepers can’t take it anymore. Or I just flew somewhere on a red-eye.

  11. I’ve been pulling way too many all-nighters lately. It’s much, much harder now that I have a son. I think a warm shower can work wonders. I have some coffee and try to make it until about 2 or so and go home and nap for the rest of the day. It’s so interesting to me because my husband is a doctor and Q4 (meaning an all-nighter or something close to it every four nights) and obviously all-nighters are just par for the course. The exception is that when he’s post-call he’s really off and can sleep. I honestly wouldn’t mind a 24 hour shift every so often if it meant that when I was done my time was protected and I could sleep.

  12. I’m at OCI in NYC law school and I am literally the only woman wearing pants! One of a handful in grey and the only one with pinstripes. Its starting to feel like the death suit….

    • If you can, try not to freak out and you’ll be ok. Forget what you’re wearing and most everyone else will too. Have them remember you – not the suit – by being positive.

    • Take heart that your interviewers will not care (and if they do, it is not a place you would want to work). Good luck!

    • Another Anonymous :

      I think it’s a plus that you aren’t wearing black–grey is a flattering color that doesn’t make you look like you’re trying too hard, and it is perfectly respectable. FWIW, I wore dark brown, steel grey, and black suits (a mix of pant and skirt suits) to my OCI interviews and did just fine in all of them (in 2009).

    • Alanna of Trebond :

      I think this is one of the OCI-panic moments. If you’re an excellent candidate (which I am sure that you are) — I think you would have to show up to your interview wearing jeans before anyone noticed something — and even then, somewhere like Quinn might hire you because of it!

      Plus, your suit sounds perfectly fine. I freaked out during OCI last year over a suit that was a dress suit that I thought had a very high skirt…which it probably did, but it made no difference whatsoever with callbacks.

    • I’m interviewing tomorrow at an OCI, and I would think a grey pinstripe pantsuit was nothing but professional. In fact I would appreciate the fact that it’s NOT black. Everyone in black gets very tiresome. Take it from someone who may make your callback decision.

      • I had an OCI interview this morning, and was so worried about it, but when I came out of the room I saw that the girl waiting to go next was wearing a bright blue dress and looked totally nervous when she saw me in a suit. I know it’s not nice, but I felt so much better and thought “well at least I wore a suit!”

    • Thanks ladies! It probably is just nerves, if this was someone else’s post I totally would have said the same things you just told me! Hopefully I will have less nerves tomorrow

  13. I’m a little concerned that there would be an emphasis on looking fresh after an all-nighter. It’s yet another entry in the Woman’s List of Trying to Be Everything. I think fatigue IS a badge of honor. Why shouldn’t women be able to celebrate giving their all for the company? Why should they be expected to look fresh as a daisy?

    Having said that, during the all-nighter, one should eat well, but not overeat. Stress and big gut don’t mix. Drinking water and taking only the necessary amount of caffeine can assist. If possible, aps of even 20 minutes under one’s desk or on a sofa can help. Washing one’s face can be stimulating. In the morning, changing into a fresh set of clothes after taking a brief sponge bath in the office restroom can be a pick me up.

    After the all-nighter: Sleep, good food, water, and as much rest as possible. If you’re young, your looks will recover in a few hours. If you’re not young, you’re going to look tired. So what?

    • Anonymous :

      IMHO a professional is someone who delivers quality work even when they’re not in the mood to do so. This includes looks and attire.


      • Professional does not equal “super-human.” Pretending you’re never affected by lack of sleep is not a winning or even sustainable long-term strategy.

      • I’m not sure I consider not having circles under my eyes to be “work”. I’m a professional, not a piece of office decoration, so as long as I’m getting my work done and maintaining the minimum level of professional appearance, I don’t feel my employer can complain that I’m not pretty enough after an all-nighter. I can see WANTING to look pretty, but I don’t believe it’s something required.

        • Of course. No one’s saying anyone should walk around looking like a schlump to prove something. That’s almost as bad as people who are inefficient and work late just to say they worked late. But let’s be realistic; if you’ve worked all night or longer you’re going to be (and probably look) tired.

          We all want to look pretty. This is a sexist society. Realizing it’s not possible or not the most important thing at a particular moment is a sign of growth. (I understand that you get this.)

          • Oh no, I was agreeing with you and disagreeing with Anonymous that we have to look fresh and well-rested as some sort of part of our job. Certainly most women want to look pretty and it probably even provides career benefits, but in my mind looking tired isn’t unprofessional when your job requires an all nighter!

          • Anonymous :

            I couldn’t give a hoot about looking pretty at work. Really.

            I care about looking competent and responsible, rather than half asleep and likely to make mistakes.

          • But what if you are half asleep and likely to make mistakes? Isn’t the inevitable mistake just worse then? I don’t get how this works in the long-term. If you can’t trust the people you work with to understand that you’re a fallible human, what happens when it becomes clear that you are, in fact, a fallible human? (I’m assuming we’re an all-human, no-vulcan blog here, granted.)

        • Oh, I knew you were agreeing with me (and I with you). I just wanted to make it clear because sometimes people read these things very quickly.

    • Agreed!

  14. I think green tea is helpful both during and after. My cousin who has/had to work 24+ hour shifts as an MD swears by honey and walnuts to get through the night in one piece. He makes them into little jars he takes to work and eats by the spoonfull with green tea. He says it keeps his brain funstioning and energy levels optimal without crashing.

    My question is a slight variation: how do you unwind after? If I even work 12+ hours in a row, never mind a full all-nighter, I find that I am unable to actually crash and I will just sit on my couch like a zombie with my heart slightly too amped and about 100 frazzled thoughts running through my mind at a mile a minute. Showers sometimes help but not always. Any other tricks to leave the day behind?

    • This happens to me, too. I like going through my getting ready for bed routine (getting into my most comfortable pjs, beauty routine, etc.) and then watching my favorite show on my laptop in bed. It helps me unwind. I know there are all types of studies saying to not watch tv right before bed (or checking phones, email, etc.) but this really does have a soothing effect for me because I have a few favorites and the familiarity is comforting. I also like having a cup of tea and listening to music if I’m not quite ready to crash yet – Sade, Maxwell, John Legend are my faves.

      • Second: for me, watching something I’m used to–the less intelligent, the better–helps me zone out. I’ve also found, living with an SO, that as much as I may feel like re-hashing whatever is going on at work by talking about it, it’s not best to do this when I’m trying to put it behind me. If the question is “how was work?” or “wow, long day huh?” I try to convey that yes, there’s a lot going on, but this isn’t the best time to get into it. Usually talking about it just makes me more stressed, and in turn annoyed that I can’t at least get some quality time to myself at home (even if only to sleep!)

      • Hah! I must have been typing when Anon3 posted.

    • Going for a run always helps me. But, I’m a runner and so that’s the way I unwind, although I know that for some people working out would have the opposite effect.

    • I find an important part of my sleep routine is my set of bedtime rituals (in a particular order: drink glass of water, change for bed, brush hair, wash, brush teeth, get into bed, read book for a few minutes). Even when I am going to bed at 2 or 3am I am careful to do everything in the same order. It is kind of like a signal to my body that it is time to sleep. Even if I don’t feel ready for bed when I start out (but know I *have* to get to sleep), by the time I’ve read for 5 or 10 minutes, I am ready to sleep.

      Not saying that this sequence is the be-all and end-all, just that it is my particular set of rituals and my body knows it, which in my view is why it works.

      I’ve also heard (but am no scientist so can’t verify) that you should avoid looking at a TV, computer or anything similar directly before bedtime as it tends to stimulate rather than relax the brain. (However, anecdotally this doesn’t seem to hold true for me given the frequency with which I fall asleep on the sofa in the evening, watching TV!)

      • Ha! Too funny, Nonny. My bed time routine is pretty much the same order and I do it regardless of what time I sleep. I’ve fallen asleep on some couches while watching tv and it’s a guilty pleasure of mine when I visit one of my relatives who has the BEST couch in the world for this (huge sectional with perfectly broken in pillows and tons of really warm huge throws).

      • Diana Barry :

        I also installed a program called f.lux on my computer – if it is nighttime the glow from the screen is red, not blue, so you can look at the computer and then go right to bed without the blue-light wind-down time.

    • Are there any yoga classes nearby you can drop-in? I am a constant fail when I try to do yoga on my own to relax, but with a class, you don’t have to guide yourself – that’s the instructor’s job.

      I think with any over-amped day, you don’t want to do a complete 180 and try to go right to bed. A slower routine of shower, tea, stretches, applying lotion, etc will get your brain clicked into a different gear so you can finally rest.

    • Re-reading a book I’ve read before. It has to be something I’ve read so many times, there really isn’t any suspense as to what happens next, not something I read once 5 years ago (because then I’ve forgotten what happens, and will want to keep reading). I find it soothing, and it helps me calm down.

    • No help, but your comment about zombie behaviour after 12+ hours of working reminded me of today’s Questionable Content (webcomic, this one is safe for work): http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=1991

    • I sometimes find that it helps me to write down on a piece of paper all the things that are bothering me, worrying me, or things I just have to do the next day–once they’re on the paper, they’re out of my mind and I can sleep. Even after a verrry long day.

      • This. Always works… somehow, subconsciously, if I write it down I feel like I don’t have to think about it anymore. If I am in trial, I am likely to dream about it though

    • Try a brisk walk, or some other activity to make you pleasantly tired. Deep breathing and meditation might help. There is a relaxation method that involves progressively tightening and then relaxing the body. You start with the toes and work on up. Google it. And then there’s alcohol. Nothing wrong with moderate drinking.

    • All very good advice, thank you! I am going to try this stuff out next time I need it (hopefully, not soon) and see what sticks.

      A lot of what you guys have said actually reminded me of when I used to fall asleep during law school exam study periods by watching the first Harry Potter movie and Mary Poppins, both of which I had tivo-d and kept until I had to get a new DVR, over and over and over again. I think mindless, comforting diversions might be the thing I need. And, I think rehashing the day with the SO (who happens to be a lawyer and thus I can really get into detail) is a big problem, and I never even thought about it that way. Alas, as much as I might benefit from a walk or a yoga class, at the end of a long day it’s not really possible for me. I am usually impressed with myself if I manage to get all my mascara off after 12+ hours! Thanks again for all the great suggestions :)

      • I thought that I was the only adult who watched HP-I over and over again to get ready to fall asleep. I re-read the same book over and over too for this purpose.

        Another movie that I watch to relax is “Four Weddings and a Funeral” because it is so slapstick and predictable.

        • Four Weddings is another good choice. Bridget Jones’ Diary, especially around the holidays, will also do the trick for me when its on.
          I think the reason I love falling asleep to the first Harry Potter movie so much is because it’s just such a perfect fairy tale. I love all the other HP movies, and perhaps they are even deeper and better, but HP 1 is just so perfectly self contained, and the colors and visuals are so amazing, it’s like a metaphysical glass a warm milk for me. This is making me wish it was on TV right now!

  15. Visine drops! And for the commenter who said watch what you eat, I agree. Greasy or sugary food during/after an all-nighter makes me look like death.

  16. My favorite eye de-puffer is very low tech: put two spoons in the freezer for half an hour or so. Remove. Gently press to eyes. Feels soooo nice, and less messy than tea bags.

  17. 1.) Quick tip to de-puff eyes – put 2 metal spoons in the freezer for 10 minutes and apply the convex part to your eyes to wake them up. Much less messy than teabags (which I have found also burn my eyelids a bit).

    2.) Lots of water and healthy snacks throughout the day – almonds, dried fruit, fruit leather, dark chocolate bites, etc.

    3.) A shower or if you’re in a rush a cool towel applied to the back of the neck and forehead to wake up a bit.

    4.) A dab of perfume and aromatherapy can be a mood changer – I know there are varying opinions on this but even bringing one of those little rollerball perfumes and just smelling it can make a difference. 5 minutes with an aromatherapy candle can make me feel better and perk me up for a few hours of slogging through more work.

    5.) Green tea or herbal tea.

  18. Benefit’s “eyebright” stick is amazing to perk up tired looking eyes.

  19. Does anyone have suggestions for office-friendly vitamin D lamps or sunlight lamps? I’ve heard that these can help with fatigue, but I haven’t found one that is attractive enough to keep in the office. I’ve been looking at this verilux lamp (http://www.amazon.com/Verilux-Natural-Spectrum-HappyLite-Silver/dp/B000F95A6A/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1313430465&sr=8-9) but can’t get over how I think it looks like an old lava lamp I had. Any suggestions for a better looking sunlight lamp?

    • Research, not Law :

      A coworker used to simply replace the regular light bulbs with UV lights. I think she did it with regular desk lamps and the overhead fluorescents at different times. Sorry, I can’t be specific on how to find them.

    • I have the lamp you are looking at and love it. Not sure about the vitamen D but it really perked me up when my office got zero sunlight. Mine actually looked a little different then the linked one and came in a 2-pack for less money. Same namebrand though.

    • I have a Sunbox desk lamp. I think it’s called the Sunny Days lamp and I bought it from a website called Light Therapy Products. They have a few different desk lamp styles. I bought mine to treat insomnia on the recommendation of a therapist and it seems to work well.

  20. Honestly, I rely on a mixture of a few things:
    1) this is the time to pull out something stylish: your favourite heels, put together a simple outfit with your favourite top or jewelery. Feeling like you are looking your best will ususally make me sit up straighter and chat a little instead of hiding in my fatigue. It works for days where you feel a little sick, tired or hungover.

    2) Pick-me up foods. I gravitate towards tuna, nuts, spinach and granola earlier in the day. They always seem to wake the brain up a little bit and the act of eating prevents the “nods”.

    3) Soda/coffee in afternoon only. I will stick to tea and water in the morning and save the big sugar hit for the afternoon when I really need the treat to boost my spirits more than anything.

    Also, if you have a flexible work day, the day after a particularly brutal all-nighter may be a good candidate for a 9:00 start versus 8:00, just to get that extra hour of sleep. And bring your make-up bag with you. You can apply blush, mascara and lip gloss while your computer boots up for the morning and your tea is brewing. May save you an extra 5-10 in bed.

  21. Anon for this :

    Regular poster, anon to try to get some advice on a sticky situation….

    I had a late filing recently. The staff who were assisting with the filing said that it would be finished by 8 at the latest. They made a series of mistakes and the filing didn’t happen until after 10, with other attorneys breathing down my neck the whole time. I never lost my cool and I was always professional, but I was sterner/more serious than normal because the mistakes cost us a lot of time we didn’t have. I also didn’t throw the staff under the bus to the other attorneys.

    Perhaps thinking that I would throw them under the bus, one of the staff complained to the partner in charge (who was not there the night of the filing; they did not complain to the partner who WAS there) that I was rude to them. I didn’t see any point in engaging in a he-said-she-said to the partner so I thanked him for telling me, said I did not intend to come off that way, and I would be more conscientious of my attitude in the future.

    I’ve never had any problems with any of the staff at my firm and I think they generally like working with me. I know how important they are and I try to show my appreciation as much as I can; I’m usually very friendly and chatty with them. I had only worked with these particular staff members once before and I probably won’t have to work with them much in the future. I know how these things can spread and I really don’t want it to jeopardize my relationship with other staff members in the firm.

    First, do you ladies think I should apologize to the staff members involved? If they sincerely believed that I was being rude, which I doubt, I feel I should apologize. I don’t think I was rude, but it was late and I was frustrated and perhaps I was rude without realizing it.

    Second, in the future, should I tell the partners about the staff’s mistakes ahead of time? I didn’t say anything because, at the end of the day, no harm was done and I didn’t want to make people look bad. I don’t want to get a reputation for blaming everything on the staff – ultimately the buck stops with me, so anything the staff does wrong is my fault too – but I don’t want to get stabbed in the back again either.

    Any other advice you have on dealing with this would be much appreciated. TIA!

    • Anon for this :

      Wow that was long. Thanks for making it through all of that!

    • 1. This might sound awful but I don’t think I would apologize. Mistakes were made – did they apologize to you for the 2+ hour delays? Probably depends on the kind of mistakes they were making…
      2. I like your ownership of the problem. In the future if it happens, I might phrase it in such a way that says to the partners you could have been clearer in your instructions/solicited updates on progress more frequently/or will follow up with their managers (see below).

      It might be more constructive to get their managers involved (paralegal, secretarial, etc). It might be a better forum for them to deliver your feedback on your behalf, which allows for constructive criticism that might not otherwise get to them (since you say you probably won’t have to work with that group much in the future, I assume you won’t have to formally evaluate them, right?). Again, depends on the kind of errors made, I suppose.

    • What Kind of Firm? :

      This was standard MO for the way young female associates were treated at my former firm. (AmLaw 200, LA-based, known for its patent litigation and, curiously, for its inability to retain women.)

      On the one hand, young associates were told to “own” the filing. On the other hand, when that meant some staff had to work late/through the night/whatever, if any staff member complained, it was NEVER about a male associate. It was ALWAYS about the female associate, who was then “counseled” about being professional without being difficult.

      It struck me as the worst kind of “women are b*&^@&y, but men are assertive” stereotyping. The worst part is that if you dispute the facts, you are counseled not to be “difficult.” I became a partner (one of the few women) and then left years ago, but it still frosts me because it is so unfair.

      • Anon for this :

        Yes, it’s a 100+ attorney firm, and yes I am a junior female associate.

        Thanks for the support, it makes me feel somewhat better. It really bothers me to think that I’ve come off as unprofessional without even realizing it, so it’s nice to hear that maybe it’s not me.

        • It's Not You :

          It is not you. I promise. But there is still a problem because “perception is reality.” And if the partners perceive that you have this issue, then you do. And you have it even worse if you say to them that you don’t.

          I personally was only able to overcome this (ie, not let it prevent me from becoming partner) through 2900 hr years and trial wins. And then I left and was stunned to observe how different a normal office is in terms of how people treat each other. I will be very curious to hear what others recommend.

          • Anon for this :

            That’s exactly why I didn’t try to explain myself to the partner, I figured it couldn’t do any good.

            Going to re-post on the later thread to get some more advice (I’ll make it shorter, I promise). Thanks for the comments so far, ladies, please keep them coming!

      • Sounds depressingly familiar. No, I don’t think she should apologize. For what?

        The next time around, she should try to find out who’s assigned to the filing and convene a short meeting well in advance to explain the deadlines and expectations. Or she should try to work with a reliable, professional paralegal who will help keep the other staffers organized when they come on board.

        Without professionalism and good will, it doesn’t matter how well informed a lawyer keeps paralegals and secretaries or how nicely s/he treats them. The good people will do whatever it takes to get the job done. The bad ones will let him or her down. As observed, there is often a gender dynamic at work as well.

    • 1. great job handling the partner’s feedback
      2. agree with the post that you may want to go to the staff’s manager and open a dialogue. Acknowledge your frustrations and allow the manager to present feedback on how the project went. Like another poster said – perception is reality.

      It is always disappointing when unconstructive feedback goes over your head, but you cannot control that. What you can control is your reaction and how you conduct yourself.

      along these lines, recent study about agreeable/unagreeable male/female pay:

  22. I have perpetual bags under my eyes, whether or not I have gotten a good nights sleep. Anyone have tips? I have Bobbi Brown’s under eye concealer, but I often don’t wear much makeup.

    Is there a great gel eye mask that any of you wear every night? Or some routine that you follow daily that might help my problem? I think, unfortunately, it’s a genetic, thin-skin under the eyes kind of thing, as my mom has gorgeous smooth skin even into her 50s except for bags under her eyes similar to my eyes.


    • lostintranslation :

      I’ve found that concealer that is apricot colored (like a little peachy orangey) combats the circles better than a more yellowy concealer. It’s a PITA to use two concealers, but it makes a huge difference. I use Benefit’s erase paste under my eyes, pat a tiny bit of powder on, and then do another layer of erase paste and powder (obviously really thin layers). Benefit is super lame, because they somehow believe that three shades of concealer have the entire spectrum of women covered, but if it happens to work for your skin tone, I would recommend it.

    • Anonymous :

      I also have perpetual dark circles no matter what. I use Aveeno lifting and firming eye cream and then add a little Benefit Erase Paste in the morning and I think its an improvement. I’ve found that making sure I drink ~60 oz of water helps.

      • Backgrounder :

        As a poster with genetic dark circles I like Bobbi Brown’s creamy concealer as well as her corrector…most of the shades have peachy undertones. I’ve also considered having facial fat grafting done under my eyes to semi-permanently combat and “fill in” the bags but it seems too extreme for me at this point.

  23. Anonymous :

    No Visine!

    According to my eye doctor, the chemical that “gets the red out” in visine is basically an OTC steroid. It shrinks the blood vessels with continued use resulting in permanently dry itchy eyes. It is especially bad for contact wearers.

    She recommended plain saline drops.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Agreed. Visine is absolutely forbidden by my opthamologist. She recommends the Refresh product line. When my eyes are especially bad, I use Refresh liquidgel drops right before I go to sleep – the gel re-moisturizes my eyes overnight much better than regular drops.

  24. MissJackson :

    Holy. I’ve pulled a few all-nighters in my time at the firm. In my experience, you can plan all you’d like, but it’s still going to be ugly.

    For starters, most of my all-nighters have involved actually staying at the office all night. So there’s no “shower and use your extra-special products to make you look and feel more awake” option. I’ve felt genuinely lucky that I keep a few emergency things at the office (most important: glasses and a case for my contacts), but I still end up looking and feeling like crap the next day. My firm (and probably a lot of other firms) has a shower, and taking advantage of that did help a lot. But I still looked like crap.

    These have not been proud moments for me (no “badge of honor”) but they are the reality. They happen to everyone. Leave as soon as is permissible, and go to sleep. I really don’t think anything else helps.

    • I agree…I’ve done my share of all-nighters in banking and law.

      If you’re staying at the office, here’s my advice:

      1) Drink water instead of coffee. Ice water in particular keeps you awake.

      2) Find a time to wash your face, rinse your contacts (or change to glasses–it’s great to keep a pair in your drawer) and brush teeth.

      3) Keep a shirt/sweater/skirt and new undies in your desk if you need to see clients the next day. If not, continue wearing the same outfit, because (no joke) people will treat you better if they know you did an all-nighter.

      4) Powernap if you can, but do not powernap if you think you won’t wake up once changes are turned/you need to join a call. Have a secretary or colleague wake you up from powernap.

      5) Second the advice above regarding rationing caffeine/saving junk food for when you really need the burst. Don’t eat junk the whole time–eat fruit and other good stuff.

      6) Look to either bright lipstick or brighter than usual bluse/eyeshadow (not both/all three) to counteract the sallow complexion from lack of sleep. Eye cream may not be a good call if it “bleeds” when you’ve worn it too long, and messes with contacts.

      7) Try to have a good attitude, but, by all means whine a bit if the number of all nighters or their frequency gets out of hand. You should not be superhuman for your job, and if you job requires you to be so on a regular basis, rethink who you work for–not all banking or corporate law or even medicine requires a million all nighters, no matter what the market/patient state. It doesn’t have to be like that!

      8) Lay off the perfume–it helps nothing.

  25. Kat, I know your intentions are good regarding your advice on how not to get sick, but there is no evidence that Vitamin C, zinc, or echinacea do anything to prevent or reduce illness. A lot of people swear by these treatments and have many anecdotes that “prove” their efficacy, but large-scale scientific studies show no difference in the duration or severity of illness when taking these supplements. I know I’ll get flamed by the true believers here for saying that their favorite “cures” don’t work, but I feel strongly that this type of pseudoscience shouldn’t be propagated without contradiction at the very least. Of course, you can take whatever you want when you’re sick, but why not use something that is demonstrably effective? See the website Science-Based Medicine:


    • anonymous the 15th :

      I’ve read the same skeptical reports.

    • another anon :

      Totally agreed. Thanks for saying this. However, I would add that the placebo effect is very real and can be very powerful, so if people think that vitamin C, zinc, etc are helpful for them, there’s really no harm in taking such things. They may in fact be getting some benefit from them via the placebo effect. Where it gets murkier is when you get beyond vitamins and into”dietary supplments” that are completely unregulated and have who knows what in them. These can and have been harmful to people (Phen-Fen comes to mind), and people should definitely talk to their doctor before taking such things. I’m personally not sure what is in Emergen C besides vitamin C, and would just go with a multivitamin or a vitamin C tablet from a major manufacturer.

  26. I have, unfortunately, recent experience with this. My approach is to wear something that makes me feel really nice, and NOT to nap the next day. If I nap, I’m done.

  27. This was very helpful, thank-you. I also think you’re very funny, keep that sense of humor. :)

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