help me remember to eat and sleep during convention weekends
February 26, 2013 4:07 AM   Subscribe

I go dancing at event weekends where there is fun stuff happening 20 hrs/day. I want to do all the things, but if I try, I wind up exhausted by day 3. How do I keep myself on track for basic functions like eating and sleeping while doing as many fun things as possible?

At these events, there are workshops/competitions during the daytime, things to watch during the evening, and social dancing that runs late evening to early morning (say 7am). Typically I will stay up until 5 or 6am, which wrecks my sleep schedule, and b/c my internal clock doesn't let me sleep in, I will be up by midmorning 5hrs later. I try to take naps but am not very good at it.

I also fail to keep myself eating enough partly due to the irregular schedule and partly due to being distracted by all the fun things. My plan is to carry around more food so that I can constantly snack, and schedule in basic maintenance, but it's possible that the main issue is that given a choice between fun things and eating/sleeping that I'm prioritizing the fun things. Any suggestions on how to keep myself more healthy while doing all the things?
posted by tangaroo to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you're not doing this all the time, then not sleeping that much for one weekend isn't the end of the world. Just nap when you get tired during the event.
posted by empath at 4:19 AM on February 26, 2013

These events are about more than dancing. Grab a couple (new!) friends and eat or get coffee. Odds are, some of them have such needs too. If that doesn't sound fun, contemplate how all-dancing is not sustainable and in fact toxic in the long run of this hobby you love.
posted by tintexas at 4:31 AM on February 26, 2013

Best answer: In sci-fi conventions, we have Bob Passavoy's 5-2-1 Rule. Each day that you're at a convention, you are required to get:

*5 hours of sleep. And please note that caffeine is not an appropriate substitute for sleep, no matter how much you've had.
*2 solid meals. I mean real, well-balanced meals--a can of Red Bull with a side of M&Ms does not count as a meal. Snacks in general are not good substitutes; they may seem like a good and cheap idea beforehand, but you will tire of them. Try for the healthy options now and then, like a salad or a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a hamburger. Heavier foods may seem more satisfying in the gut at the time, but in the long run, eating less fatty, greasy food will help keep your energy up better.
*1 shower/bath. This is priority. You’re supposed to have eight hours of sleep each night; most cons will settle for five. You’re supposed to eat three meals a day; most cons are happy with a double visit to Burger King. But when it comes to hygiene, no convention will budge. Even if you only take three showers all year, take them all the weekend of your con. Con Funk is not pleasant for your fellow con-goers. It's bad enough at sci-fi cons; I can't imagine entering a confined space that also contains a hardcore dancer who hasn't lathered himself/herself up since Thursday. Don't be that guy.

The easiest way to make sure you follow the 5-2-1 rule is to have a convention buddy or buddies to help you follow it. Make plans to meet a buddy for breakfast and supper to talk about that great workshop you're getting ready to go to/just went to. When you see your buddies heading to their hotel rooms for bed, that's gonna be your cue to go put in your five hours of sleep.

And you're a dancer--listen to your body! If your feet start to hurt, you'd assume your body was trying to tell you something and take appropriate action, right? Well, if you start yawning, listen to your body and go the heck to bed! It's telling you it needs rest, not for you to jack it up on caffeine so you can keep going. Set yourself a hard limit of hitting the sheets at 1am or 2am, then you can sleep and bounce up at 6 or 7am.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:05 AM on February 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I agree if it's not every weekend, it's not that big of a deal.

I help run an event that while is not physically taxing as dancing, does keep me running around quite a bit for about 4 days straight. Other than a steady supply of Clif Bars (or your energy bar of choice) and veggie jerky (or your meat jerky of choice) that I always have on me, I also have a steady supply of coffee and water. Close friends and I also task each other with reminders to eat any time we see each other.

I've also realized I'm just going to miss out on some things and I'm OK with that.

Even if you don't nap, just resting somewhere -- finding a quiet place to sit for a bit -- does wonders.

And I've found it helps to take the Monday off after such events to decompress/rest. That may not always work, depending on how often these events are for you.
posted by darksong at 5:12 AM on February 26, 2013

I have a similar thing at work every year and I run into the same problem. This year, I tried to keep a big bottle of water with me the whole time. I think that's good because you're staying hydrated and going to the bathroom, which helps you take stock of whether you're hungry, exhausted, etc. Snacks are great too, as is fruit but I recommend apples or bananas. I bought a box of clementines, which are great, but since I was rarely sitting for long, I didn't eat them until I got home.
posted by kat518 at 6:17 AM on February 26, 2013

I find when going to any sort of event, getting the info well ahead of time and PLANNING what you're going to do is a great help. It helps you get mentally set for the fact that there's no way you can do it all, prioritize the most important stuff so you don't miss it if possible, and get the rest, nutrition, etc. you need to get the most out of it.

Of course if you get there and one of your events is cancelled or something better has come up, you can always change (subject to reservation requirements, etc., of course), but pre-planning even helps you roll with the changes. You've studied the map, so you know which way to jump.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:17 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Came in to say what randomkeystrike said -- Schedule yo shit. Count meals and naps and sleeping as fun things -- meals in particular can be "Hey, I'm going to try this new restaurant near the event!" or "Hey, I'm going to have lunch with these three awesome people who I only ever see at these things!"

Plan for the absolute minimum of sleep, meals, bathing (5:2:1 is a good start point), then add some "flex time" (e.g., plan for three meals and seven hours of sleep or six hours plus two one-hour midday naps/breaks). Set your phone or watch or whatever with "Five minutes until NEXT FUN THING." Let yourself go a little off-schedule, but know what you're allowing yourself to skip and make sure you have a backup plan (e.g., "If I skip breakfast, I must go to lunch.")

Backward-plan your sleep/morning schedule in particular: "I want to do this awesome workshop at 10, and I need to shower first, so that's 9:45, and I should have breakfast, so that's 9:15, so I'll set my alarm for 9, and I need five hours of sleep, but I want to try for six, so I'll set my alarm for 2:30 a.m., because that will give me 15 minutes to disengage from whatever I'm doing and 15 minutes to get ready for bed (and an hour of flex time if I'm really having fun right then."
posted by Etrigan at 7:04 AM on February 26, 2013

Yep, scheduling. I am an introvert who forgets that I am an introvert at cons, and I have a tendency to flip out on or around Day 3 and start screaming at people unless I spend one slot per day back to the hotel room when there's nobody else is there for some blissful solitude. I block out the time right there on my con schedule planner.

The key to sleeping (and napping) well in hotels is earplugs, or, if your room turns out to be really noisy, a white-noise generator with or without binaural beats*. Make sure your earbuds are comfortable enough to sleep in.

* Not sure if binaural beats really work, but I think I at least get a placebo benefit from them, and they are unlikely to be harmful.
posted by BrashTech at 7:17 AM on February 26, 2013

Oh, I forgot to add: If you're desperate for sleep but short on time, take a 20-minute power-nap. Otherwise, schedule 1.5 hours or 3 hours for a nap. If you try to wake up after, say 45 minutes or an hour, you'll be trying to rouse yourself from a deep sleep, but you go through natural cycles of sleep and near-arousal that are 1.5 hours long.
posted by BrashTech at 7:22 AM on February 26, 2013

Just because there are things scheduled 22 hours per day doesn't mean you have to be at them. Prioritize! Figure out what parts of the day are least fulfilling - personally - and go sleep/eat then.

After going to a large number of music events (lessons/workshops all day, teacher concerts in the evenings, participation jams till the wee hours) I identified what times of day were "slack". For me, this meant skipping the first morning class, going all day, then taking a nap from 4pm-8pm, catch the concerts, eat something at 10/11pm while the jams were getting up to speed, then stay up until the wee hours, sleep from 5/6am-10am, catch the 10:30am class. That's great, but my husband was really there for the classes, and for the socialization, so he wanted to be awake for the 9am class, and eat dinner with everybody at 6pm, and it didn't matter to him if he left at 1am. We had to agree to differ, and plan on having our good couple time at lunch.

My point is, choose some things to skip - even if you *can* be doing participatory dance from 5-7am, is that more fun than the hours from 9-11pm? If one of those is clearly less fun, plan on sleeping for two hours. Figure out what works for you, and stick to it.
posted by aimedwander at 7:48 AM on February 26, 2013

Response by poster: I've found that I have to take Mondays off work, otherwise I wind up getting sick.
I will be scheduling in jacuzzi time and naps. Thank you ALL!
posted by tangaroo at 4:14 AM on February 27, 2013

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