I spent 24 hours in the library, here’s how it went

I didn’t even get all my work done

With three essays due in exactly one week, I decided it would be a fun challenge to see if I could spend a full 24 hours in the Edinburgh Uni Main Library, without leaving even once.

It would not only be a sure-fire way to make sure I actually did some work, but would also give me a story to tell for years to come. I was taking on a challenge that would test my survival instincts and sanity, as well as my dedication to the cause.

Equipped with many snacks, 8000 words to write, and pure determination, I headed into the library and didn’t come out again until exactly 24 hours had passed.

Here’s how it went:


I entered the library at exactly 11:03, with an iced chai latte and a mix of dread but also excitement in hand. The plan was to arrive at around 9:00, but a combination of oversleeping and packing for my 24 hour expedition meant that was nothing but a pipe dream.

From looking at my three bags, you’d think I was off backpacking across Europe for a month. But no, instead I was equipped with all my library essentials: one bag filled with my laptop and books needed to study, another filled with food and snacks to sustain me through the hours, and a final bag containing my pyjamas and toiletries to make the night a bit more comfortable.

As my flatmate had courageously agreed to embark on this journey with me, we headed straight to the group study rooms on the lower ground. If we had been more forward-thinking, we would’ve booked a room in advance, but instead we went into a vacant room and got on with work, hoping no one would kick us out.

I travel light, as you can see


After having quite a productive three hours and even finishing the first draft of one of my essays, it was time for lunch. Naturally, I brought with me a meal deal from Sainburys: a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich, a bottle of ribena, and a fruit pot (I bought a big bag of crisps seperately). I leisurely munched on my meal deal for an hour or so, taking a break from essay writing to catch up on my socials, as well as chat with my friend Sophie who popped in to say hello.



A very boring few hours spent working on more essay plans, writing paragraphs, and going on numerous toilet breaks to try and stretch my legs. It also officially went dark during this time, leaving us to count down not only the many hours left inside the library, but also the return of the sun. In retrospect, we should’ve bought vitamin D tablets as the effects of being stuck inside were starting to hit hard.

Our new home <3


19:00 meant it was finally dinner time! The night before I made a chorizo and pea risotto, and brought the leftovers for my library dinner. I also needed a well deserved work break, so put on an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County to enjoy while eating. However, the library wifi had other plans to begin with, as I couldn’t get through one minute without Prime buffering.

At this point, I was also starting to really miss the comforts of my own flat and bed. I’d never spent this many hours in the library, and honestly, there’s good reason for that. After eating my risotto and getting through a couple episodes of housewife drama, I went for a mindfulness walk around the library.

I also decided I couldn’t wait any longer, and changed from my jeans into my joggers. However, I kept my day jumper on as I couldn’t justify being fully in my pyjamas just yet. And yes, thanks to the luxury of having a frosted glass wall and door, I changed in the study room rather than going to the toilets. It was an exhilarating thirty seconds.

The joys of meal prep


This is when the fun began, as our friends Helena and Adam turned up with many amusements in hand. These included a table ping pong set, Uno, and a whiteboard marker so we could actually draw on the board and play a good old fashioned game of hangman. Me and Adam started by playing a game of Bubble Trouble on Miniclip, but once everyone else finished off their paragraphs, the real games began.

We did a few rounds of Uno, followed by hangman with chosen words like mitigate, Appleton, and ratatatata. A big highlight was that our friend Tom joined in the fun via Facetime, as he’s currently on a year abroad in Spain. I also changed from my jumper into my Big Cheese t-shirt, as it was officially pyjama hours. I would’ve also showered if I could, but it turns out the Main Library showers are for staff only.

Our beautiful hangman board in the background


Normally I’d be fast asleep by 23:30, but instead I found myself more hungry than tired. As Helena and Adam weren’t officially taking part in the 24 hour challenge, they went off to Dominos to bring us back a large pizza to share. We made it into a bit of a pizza party/movie night by connecting my laptop to the large screen in the study room, and putting on an episode of Below Deck.

Totally studying hard here


It was now time to get some shut eye, or at least try to. One of the (many) perks of the group study rooms is that you can actually switch the lights off, meaning some form of sleep was plausible. I had come prepared and brought a toothbrush and toothpaste with me, so brushed my teeth in the toilets before trying to figure out what position I could actually sleep in.

It’s worth also mentioning that even at 01:30, the library was still full of students working away. While they might not be participating in the 24 hour challenge, I still salute them for their ability to be in the library past midnight.

These four hours were spent getting on and off bouts of sleep, which didn’t last long due to my pure discomfort. I had reclined the back of one of the desk chairs and used another to rest my feet on, giving me a sort of airplane seat to sleep on. The temperature also seemed to quite drastically drop at around 03:00, which didn’t help. By 05:00, I decided to ‘wake up’ for the day, as I was officially too sore and hungry to try and continue sleeping.

Overall, I think I managed about two hours of sleep.

Bedtime ready


Just after 05:00 was when the library staff went around and did their checks. The whole day, no one came in to see what we were doing once, yet between 02:00 and 06:00 we had numerous staff pop their heads into our room, scan the room, and then leave. My flatmate was actually asleep when they came in at 05:00, and they told her to go home if she was tired as napping isn’t allowed in the library. Instead, she got up and we got started on some light work as there was nothing else to do.

We weren’t the only ones who had pulled an all-nighter, as two other study rooms were still occupied with students working, and a few more students were sat at the individual study desks on the lower ground.

At 08:00, we took a break from work and headed up to the fourth floor in order to catch the sunrise.

Finally, the return of the sun!!

08:00-11:00 (11:03 to be exact)

We were now in the final stretch and honestly, I was so ready to leave at this point. I was so tired and lacking in energy that I couldn’t actually bring myself to do any more work, so instead I just sat there staring at the clock hoping 11:00 would come around faster.

Let’s just say that these last couple of hours consisted of a lot of pacing back and forth, and planning how I would spend the rest of my day in bed, with a Deliveroo.

Finally, 11:03 arrived and you’d best believe I was out of there as fast as I could. I left with a great sense of achievement, but also a solemn oath to never return to the lower ground floor of the library, for as long as I remain in Edinburgh.

Mission accomplished

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