How do I stop feeling like the walking dead today?
March 9, 2007 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Last night I got absolutely no sleep at all (insomnia brought on by being upset about something). Now today I feel crazy tired and really queasy.

I look like a zombie, complete with pasty white skin and raccoon eyes. I have no appetite, but I’m trying to force myself to eat some dry toast, just to get something in my body.

Getting through work will be a bitch, but doable. The problem is, I have a long, long night ahead of me with no opportunity to rest or relax (going straight from work to meet up with a ton of people for movie premiere and then all night bar hopping etc). So my question is, how can I temporarily fix myself up here? Caffeine? No caffeine? Eye drops? Cold compress? Hot compress? Any foods that would combat the about-to-puke feeling? I get outrageous sinus headaches when I’m underslept, so I took some over the counter sinus medicine a few hours ago, which is why I’m even functional enough to sit upright and type on this computer. But how will I get through the rest of the night? Plus and this is silly but I may be meeting up with this guy I have a slight crush on tonight and I REALLY don’t want to be looking like hell and feeling even worse when I see him! Help! And yes, I will limit my drinking tonight so I don’t make things worse. Ugh I hate insomnia.
posted by silverstatue to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Go home sick for the afternoon and get some rest. Either that or stay up all night on crystal meth.
posted by caddis at 8:45 AM on March 9, 2007

Sleep at work.

I know a guy who couldn't sleep at his desk, so he would go into the bathroom stall, drop trou, sit down, and take a fifteen minute nap. I don't know if you could pull this off as a girl, but there's an idea.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:50 AM on March 9, 2007

Lots and lots of water. Just fill up a bottle and keep drinking throughout the day and into the night.

Try to force down some fruits and veggies. Avoid big meals and just eat healthy snacks all day long.

If you can get 20 minutes at some point to lean back in your chair and close your eyes, that might help. You won't sleep, but maybe you can get into that relaxed state somewhere between being awake and asleep.

Silly question: Do you HAVE to go out tonight? Can you skip the movie and go home to nap and shower?

Just be honest with Crush Guy and the rest of the gang. Tell them you're beat, try to joke about it.

I would avoid caffeine for most of the day. Maybe right before you go out, have a cup, just to give you a boost for a couple of hours, but if you start now you'll just crash by tonight.
posted by bondcliff at 8:51 AM on March 9, 2007

Stay hydrated. Drinking water while exhausted does help a lot.

But I think you might want to reexamine your priorities. Are you even going to be able to have fun tonight as tired as you are?

If you have a car, maybe go take a nap in it at lunchtime.
posted by tastybrains at 8:51 AM on March 9, 2007

You haven't slept, and you already feel annihilated this morning? Listen to caddis—you're not going to be functional tonight unless you get some sleep today.
posted by cortex at 8:52 AM on March 9, 2007

Really make sure you're eating right. A lot of protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. That will go a long way towards keeping your energy level up. But don't eat huge meals just keep a steady flow of nutritious food going. When I'm exhausted, I try to get out in fresh air a lot, especially if it's a sunny day. The sun cues seem to help my brain realize that it's day time so it should act accordingly. If you can, take a shower before you go out (seems like that's not too possible though) but is that's not in the cards, do lots of face washing and cold water splashes.

As for looking hot for the crush, well that's gonna be hard. Faking a well-rested and therefore good looking face has never been easy. Go light on the cosmetics as they tend to get cakey and yucky on tired skin. But do try to wear some mascara or anything that will open your eyes up a bit. Drink lots of water. Sleep under your desk.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:54 AM on March 9, 2007

I don't know about you, but coffee makes me feel ten times worse in this situation. I have good results chewing green tea gum. You need food. Lean meat and fruit never fails to help me feel better, but of course ymmv. Joining the chorus; you should either get some sleep or cancel at least part of your evening.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 8:56 AM on March 9, 2007

Don't drink coffee... yet! Your neurotransmitters are in short supply. Coffee will give you a boost, but if you start hitting the caffeine too early, you'll deplete your brain before you get to the date tonight.

If it were me though, I'd reschedule. I'm the opposite of charming when I'm that worn out.
posted by the jam at 9:06 AM on March 9, 2007

When I'm severely sleep-deprived but need to maintain basic levels of functioning all day is when Red Bull really busts it out. I don't know why this is, but that stuff seems to kick ass inversely proportionally to how good I ought to feel. Not the case with coffee. Also, get lots of vitamins.

I know I sure as hell wouldn't be going out, but that's your prerogative. I've definitely been in positions like that and made the dumb choice. If you're confident you can sleep all day tomorrow, you can probably handle it. Although, when I'm sleep deprived, I am annoyed easily by noise...ymmv.

Finally, please don't do much driving. If you're really as out of it as you describe, you're a danger to yourself and the other people on the road.
posted by crinklebat at 9:09 AM on March 9, 2007

Were I in your situation (and I have been), I would:

1. Drink some water. Moderate amounts of coffee or tea.
2. Try to squeeze in a nap. If you have an office, but it's not practical to lock the door, lie down on the floor with your feet against the door so that if anyone tries to open it they'll bump you.
3. For lunch, try to get a large serving of soup -- chicken noodle or some kind of broth -- and eat some kind of fruit or vegetable.
4. Take another dose of medicine in the late afternoon (for me, original recipe Sudafed, which you'll have to get at the prescription counter, albeit without a prescription).
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:23 AM on March 9, 2007

Nthing everyone: if you aren't used to extended waking periods, there is nothing short of controlled substances or sleep that will get you (comfortably) through the evening. I think your options are to take a sickie and sleep, stay in work and skip the evening, or go out and feel like utter crap, and probably fall asleep in the middle of dinner.

If you absolutely must both work and go out, try not to drink much, if you have caffine, better to have smaller doses, and eat as well as you can.

But yeah, I'd just skip the evening. You, your friends and crush guy will have much more fun another time when you're conscious.
posted by MetaMonkey at 9:23 AM on March 9, 2007

For the love of god don't drive, and especially don't drive if you intend to have even one drink. Super-tired plus alcohol = mayhem.

...if you have any modafinil around, that would be perfect. I'm guessing you probably don't, so in the absence of a pharmaceutical fix, go with fruits & vegetables now, followed by a short nap after work and regularly-spaced non-heroic doses of caffeine later.

Be careful of sugar, because if you let yourself sugar crash you're going to go down for the count.
posted by aramaic at 9:25 AM on March 9, 2007

Do you HAVE to stay at work today? Can't you say that you're feeling really awful and go home sick for some sleep until tonight?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:43 AM on March 9, 2007

Response by poster: thanks for all the input so far. In answers to a few of your questions - i live in nyc, so definitely will NOT be driving. i wont drink any alcohol tonight. my work is crazy hectic so, no real down time or chance to rest. Um.... I know its dumb to go out tonight and if it was just a regular night out with my friends, i would most definitely postpone it but A. we've had our tickets for weeks and are all so excited about seeing this silly movie on the first night it's out (there's like 30 of us going), and B. i really do wanna see this guy again, and i know he'll be there tonight (dont really have a way to contact him otherwise - its a friend of a friend of a friend type of thing). So yeah, if I'm not there tonight, not only do i miss out on a fun night with my friends that has been planned forever, but i doubt i'll get a chance to casually run into this guy again (at least not for a while).

I'm drinking water like crazy now, will avoid suger and caffeine, and will pick up some fruit salad for lunch. keep the suggestions coming!
posted by silverstatue at 9:46 AM on March 9, 2007

When I'm zombie tired, the things that help are:
a. drink water (you're doing this; keep it up)

b. take a nap and then a shower (if you're at work you probably can't)

c. eat some protein. As plain as possible: skinless chicken or turkey, tofu chunks, something like that. So maybe use fruit salad to ease yourself into eating, but get some protein if you can. (Maybe get a regular salad with meat or egg chunks?)

d. not a single big meal - which always makes me sleepier -- but small doses of food more often
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:02 AM on March 9, 2007

Sugar Free Red Bull is your friend--it will help you stay up without giving you a terrible sugar crash. Like crinklebat, I'm not sure why it works, but it does help a lot. I wouldn't start on that till later in the evening, though. It can only last for so long.

This evening, try to keep moving regularly--a bit of exercise, even if it's just walking up and down the block, makes it much easier to stay awake.

If you can possibly take a nap this afternoon, do. Earlier is better, because you'll be in really bad shape for an hour or two after your nap. If you can't do it earlier, and you don't snore, you might want to just go ahead and sleep through the movie: two hours in a dark room with no demand for social interaction seems like a great opportunity.

If you cancel tonight, your friends will understand. That might be your best bet. If you do go, try not to get into a conversation with Crush Guy: you may be able to manage the occasional witty and clever remark, if you're lucky, but sustained interaction is going to be way too much for your brain to deal with.

As others have said, you're not going to be capable of driving tonight.

Also, I hope you're not planning to do anything tomorrow, because it's going to hurt like hell. Way worse than today.
posted by moss at 10:13 AM on March 9, 2007

I would try to drink a lot of water, try to take breaks regularly & a walk outside when you get tired. Fresh air might do you good.

I hate to admit this, but I've been in that situation MANY times (I was working 18 hour days on a project a few months ago) and I have an emergency stash of RedBull in my pantry just in case. I only drink it when I know I'm exhausted, will have no option to rest & am required to remain alert and with my brain in gear. For me, I've found that the caffeine in coffee will make me feel horrible & jittery, but RedBull keeps me awake & alert for 2 hours without any of that. When I'm really tired... I can DEFINITELY tell when those two hours are up.

Wouldn't make it a regular habit, but man it's been a lifesaver for me on a few occasions. No "It gives miss lynnster wings!" cracks, please.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:21 AM on March 9, 2007

After failing to preview, I see that some of what I said no longer applies. But: it's probably a really good thing that work is hectic today. It'll be more painful, but it'll keep you from getting as drowsy as you would if you were just sitting still.

Very glad to see you won't be driving. In view of that, there's really no harm in going out--the worst that can happen is that it will hurt a lot.

Finally, don't forget to have fun tonight! It's totally still possible to in your condition, despite the hurting, and it'll be easier if you just decide to embrace the fact that you're a bit loopy from having been awake for a day and a half.
posted by moss at 10:22 AM on March 9, 2007

Oh, & my stash is Sugar Free...
posted by miss lynnster at 10:22 AM on March 9, 2007

In addition to other suggestions, I find light exercise helps me a lot when I'm badly fatigued. A brisk walk, fresh air sort of thing. I move around a little whenever I start to nod off.

Other than hydrating I think makeup is probably your only friend for the pasty racoon face thing, until you can get some serious sleep.
posted by nanojath at 10:25 AM on March 9, 2007

I find it hard to eat when I'm tired. Instead, I drink lots and lots of chocolate milk. It's yummy, hydrating, and full of protein and sugar to keep you going.
posted by walla at 10:33 AM on March 9, 2007

What everyone said.

I used to work the opening shift at a coffee shop - 4.15am-12.45 - I would never have coffee until after 10; it just contributes to the "about-to-puke" feeling, for sure.

I'm seeing 300 tonight, too! (did i guess it?)
posted by puddleglum at 10:36 AM on March 9, 2007

ingest a steady stream of liquid:

green tea
fruit juice or fruit juice smoothie
a very cold can of slim-fast meal replacement or ensure is good if a meal is a revolting propsect but you know you need the calories.

listen to upbeat music all day
stare directly into bright lights or sunshine whenever possible

an hour before the outing, have a double espresso.
maybe another midway through.
posted by twistofrhyme at 10:44 AM on March 9, 2007

oh, and chew mint gum- peppermint is energizing, and it'll cure your espresso-breath on the date.
posted by twistofrhyme at 10:45 AM on March 9, 2007

Response by poster: ok i feel a little better. been drinking water like a fiend, just picked up some fruit salad and protein shake, walked around outside for a bit... unfortunately i still look like early stage zombie. lets see how the afternoon treats me.

as Moss suggested, i think my best bet is to take a sneaky little nap during the movie. Oh well. I'm sure I'll be seeing it again at some point! And yes, puddleglum, its 300 :)
posted by silverstatue at 11:31 AM on March 9, 2007

Best answer: I’ve had times like this. The healthy food suggestion is a good one (I think a big salad with cheese or some protein is most helpful), but if you’re queasy, it might be hard to stomach. I go the stomach-virus-route when I feel that way—saltines, very small sips of Coke, jell-o. It’s not going to make you feel great later on but it will get you over the hump. Certainly switch the healthy stuff once you feel a bit better.

The best OTC med in the world for nausea is Emetrol, a red, cough-syrup looking-liquid (near the antacids in the drugstore). You can take it every half hour or so (works better when you’ve had some crackers and water). I’d probably try to stay off the caffeine while you’re at work. Once you hit the streets, though: get some No-Doz or Stay-Awake. Cut each pill in half at least, in quarters if you can manage. Take a quarter at a time, every 30-45 minutes (don’t take more than two pills total, though). This won’t make you super-alert, but it’ll give you a steady, low-grade stream of wakefulness.

It’s going to be difficult, but try not to drink too much while bar-hopping. The alcohol will hit you much harder.

Definitely do some makeup--I’d go with neutral colors, light with a bit of shimmer on your lids, maybe a berry-toned lipstick (draw attention away from tired-looking eyes). A bit of white eyeliner (I know, weird) in the inner corner of your eyelids will brighten up your eyes. Some yellow-toned concealer should help with your under-eye circles.

Finally, if you can manage, slip into a Sephora or Body Shop or similar, find a perfume or scented lotion that has an “awake” fragrance (citrus, lavender, maybe mint), and sample that. Scents like that tend to make me feel more awake. Good luck!
posted by CiaoMela at 11:32 AM on March 9, 2007

Awww, you're sick due to the lack of sleep, sweetie. I think you'd be better off just cutting your losses. Everyone deals with sleep deprivation differently, but based on what you've said it sounds like there's a good chance you're going to be feeling awful tonight, possibly grumpy, having trouble concentrating - hardly in a state to dazzle your crush. If going home for sleep during the day isn't an option, you might be better off cutting your losses and cancelling the evening. Look after yourself.

As a not unimportant aside - if you do go out, don't drive. There are plenty of examples of people who've fallen asleep while driving, with tragic consequences. Tiredness+driving can be even more dangerous than drinking+driving.
posted by different at 12:55 PM on March 9, 2007

If it's any comfort, I usually hit a "second wind" after 30-some hours awake. Maybe you'll manage to wake up again briefly while you're out tonight.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:09 PM on March 9, 2007

When I'm exhausted/hungover/facing a second shift/feeling queasy, my magical solution is: going to a sushi joint.

Miso soup plus something simple, like tuna. The fish is easily digestible and high in protein, the rice makes my stomach feel less rumbly, and the ginger soothes the nausea. The green tea has a little caffeine but not enough to make me crash later.
posted by desuetude at 2:29 PM on March 9, 2007

You're screwed, load up on caffeine and hope for the best.

Tomorrow, make an appointment with your doctor and get him/her to write a prescription for Provigil so you're ready for future incidents.
posted by exhilaration at 7:53 PM on March 9, 2007

« Older Handing over the keys to my parents' money   |   Help me get wrapped up in LaTeX Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.