How to keep yourself awake for 36 hours before exam or interview and still achieve (The (S)[C] Balance Method)

Admiral's Brain
6 min readFeb 13, 2021
Source: Redtooth


Instead of telling you exactly what works for me and leave you wondering how you would modify this method to fit your body and needs. I abstract out the strategy in terms of principles, variables and placeholders to give you a structure while giving you my example to get a foothold. This approach has enough flexibility to be universal and specific because its based on understanding. The timeline is shared at the end as a sort of summary.

Principles {invoke them if confused}:

indication: { }

{POB}: Principle of Balance

{POD}: Principle of Discomfort

Personal Variables (Find exact or intuitive value for your body):

Indications: ( )

(S): Stomach level

(C) : Coffee intake

Placeholders [more general than variables] [full reign over these] [only placement matters]:

Indication: [ ]

[MOD]: Methods of discomfort

[MOH]: Methods of hyperactivation

[C]: coffee / energy drink / tea


Doing all-nighter isn’t healthy or sustainable. This guide isn’t a substitute for consistent managed effort or a free-ticket to procrastinate and have bragging rights of pulling this off. These tips should only be used when you have no choice. Its not that harmful if you do it sometimes like I am as of writing this (because I wanna change my sleeping schedule). This blog is focused on decreasing the risks of this risky situation as much as possible and let you perform well even after being sleep-deprived.


To accomplish physical feats or rather self-abuse like this, you need to think of your body as a separate identity then yourself and you have to manage and trick its senses to keep it doing what you want it to do. Your body is capable of all of this. It just doesn’t want to, because its trained by nature that it isn’t good for you. You have to simulate controlled harsh environment for it to believe it has got no choice but to stay awake. Total comfort is your enemy. You need to balance some variables (as a function of time) and walk on a thin line {invoke POB}


The first step of this journey is actually knowing the exact time until deadline. I recommend this website. It countdowns until the second you specify it. Now its time to grind until your deadline. First write a rough plan of what you want to do and how much time its going to take and do it with timestamps of the remaining 36 hours. Work backwards and forwards and meet in the middle and adjust at the end


Starting at 9:00 pm Saturday

  • Listen to all lectures until 9 am Sunday
  • Read Bowley book chapter 6,7,8 until 4 pm Saturday
  • I need 16 hours for problem practice (6 pm Sunday)
  • I need x hours of sleep

→ Exam at 9 am Monday

The x hours of sleep is what you are going to be adjusting to do everything else. In this case its two hours. Of course this isn’t optimal but you have no choice


I am going to assume you have had enough sleep before these 36 hours like from example above you woke up at 8:00 am and started working at 9 pm. You must know when you will start feeling sleepy and you need to have coffee [C] prepared and start taking sips 3 hours before that time. It might be annoying for some readers and a life saver for others but all you need to get coffee in your system is cheap powdered coffee (like Néscafe), milk and a blender. I personally prefer cold coffee with some supplement like Ensure added in and hastily blended, as lazy people have no time or money to brew hot coffee.

Some variables you need to find values for yourself:

(S)= The minimum Stomach level that makes you feel sleepy [directly proportional to sleep] [%]

[C]= The grams of coffee per interval (hours) to keep yourself awake [inversely proportional to sleep]

Your stomach level (the fraction of total volume you can stuff in it at any moment) is a measure of how normal things are for your brain hence you can NEVER fill it fully. It depends on the individual but generally the more you stuff it, the more your primate brainstem is going to think everything is normal, we ate and now we should sleep. Drinking coffee on empty stomach isn’t that good for many people as it causes nausea and severe anxiety (I am one of them).

(S)[C] balance

You need to sip [C] grams of coffee after regular intervals and eat something light below (S)%. In essence you balance these two variables to keep yourself awake consistently and mess with them when you need to sleep. This state of (S) and [C] at optimum levels is called the (S)[C] balance {Invoke POB}. This state is not your best, most productive and most present state of being. You cannot be more than 80% of your potential for most people (A simple test for this is grip strength). You will have a constant feeling of a weight over your head, you will have a slight urge to sleep but even if you tried, you won’t be able to sleep unless you make yourself super comfortable for longer than half an hour

Sleep (Power or full cycle naps)

You are allowed to sleep if you get time but when and how you sleep is what matters. The first step is to break the (S)[C] balance condition not entirely but enough to put you to sleep under 5 minutes of trying to snooze. Like stop drinking coffee one hour before and eat till S but not to your fill ever, or you won’t be waking up anytime soon. Second thing you do is to NOT make yourself too comfortable {invoke POD} but enough to sleep. As soon as you are out of (S)[C] balance you can sleep with a noose around you neck so make it easier for you to wake back up. How?

  • Don’t turn the lights off, cover your eyes with your arm if you have to
  • Don’t pull up a blanket on yourself
  • Sleep at the place you study, like in the chair with some hacks like pillows
  • Don’t sleep just before exam (You can but its risky if you wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle, your brain will be clogged), wake up at least one and a half hour before

Methods of Discomfort [MOD]

If (S)[C] balance isn’t enough, you need to simulate some painful yet harmless and untiring conditions to tell your brainstem, “it ain’t sleepy time, bruh…”. For this you use Methods of Discomfort [MOD]. For instance, put your hands in super cold running water. Breathe cold fresh air. Do 20% of your pushup volume and shadow box. I have got some a bit more extreme but I will keep them to myself. Just send a message to your brain, your survival maybe in peril and it won’t force you to sleep.

Now comes the grand challenge of taking the exam, Of course, if its a problem solving exam you can’t perform well on 80% (or probably even lower) of your potential called Brain Clog. We need a boost of brain power and spoiler alert you can’t get 100% of it or enter into enhanced flow most probably (assuming you aren’t a monster). Because you robbed yourself of that ability by burning out your brain. That said, we need to squeeze out every ounce of brain power it can offer which is proportional to how much sleep you got. Suppose you didn’t sleep for straight 36 hours before exam or interview. You need to amp-up yourself artificially by the power of Methods of hyperactivation [MOH].

Caution: Keep in mind you need to relax 5–10 minutes before because due to coffee and lack of sleep you are more prone to anxiety and stress, so hyperactivation might backfire. So meditate after [MOH] to get yourself calm again {Invoke POB}. Some examples of [MOH]:

  • Wim Hof breathing
  • Sugar Rush
  • Max speed Shadow box
  • Hard Mental Math
  • Try out the hardest problem you can barely solve and actively stress about it.
  • Now meditate at last

Note: Do this keeping in mind duration of your time of peak performance. For 3 hour exam by the end your luck will probably run out. The cycle lasts for less than two hours. But I hope you push through.


  • Plan forwards and backwards and adjust
  • Achieve (S)[C] Balance
  • Supplement with [MOD]
  • Mess with it proportional to how long you wanna sleep
  • Wake up and get back in
  • be awake one a half hour before showtime to reduce risk of Brain Clog
  • Do [MOH]
  • Meditate 10 minutes before
  • Showtime

Good Luck!



Admiral's Brain

I like writing and have a lot on my mind. These blogs are sneak peeks inside my mind. Hope you enjoy them.