I'm so tired, I haven't sleep a wink. I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink...
July 31, 2008 5:30 AM   Subscribe

I didn't sleep a wink last night. Now the day is beginning. How can I stay fresh?

No, I don't mean summer's eve... I was out until late and then started shaving the giant beard I'd grown and honest to god that took over an hour (with a hideous razor). Suddenly I find its daytime. I have to go to work in about an hour and then class later this evening. Any great remedies to cure tiredness? Obviously sleep is out of the question and while I love coffee, I think I've been OD-ing on it lately and would prefer something less jittery. I want something that makes me feel...like I slept! sigh.

Ah, also, I live in Buenos Aires (in case you had an American, British, Aussie etc.. product to recommend).

Finally, since I'm rambling, whatever you recommend obviously doesn't have to be a 'product.' Yoga? Breathing? Ice water? ugh... so...tired...
posted by punkbitch to Grab Bag (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The best advice is probably catnaps throughout the day, especially before you (hopefully take the bus) to work. Set an alarm really loud and doze for 15-30min, or longer if possible. Outside of that theres always meth.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 5:39 AM on July 31, 2008

Can you take a catnap at lunch and/or before class? That might help you get through the day. Other than that, keep your office cool and listen to some peppy music - that usually helps me a lot. Also keep moving around as much as you can -- there's nothing like sitting at a desk all day to further numb an already tired brain.

And if nothing works, can just take the afternoon off and go home and nap? No reason to make yourself dangerously tired (presuming you'll be driving) if you don't have to.
posted by boomchicka at 5:40 AM on July 31, 2008

I used to work graveyard shifts, which was just beautiful at generating the occasional day of not nearly enough sleep. Although it sounds like so much hokum, I always had the best luck with "caffeine naps". Cup of coffee, then immediate catnap.

It's no substitute for actual sleep, but for me it worked better at allowing me survive through the shift than a catnap alone could.
posted by Drastic at 5:53 AM on July 31, 2008

I've been up all night too, I work nights so this is kinda normal for me. This is totally not safe I highly do not recommend this but on days where I get home from work and have to function during the day I try to go as long as I can without eating meal. Yea I know, doctors are flipping out right now but once I get that first meal in I get weighed down and tired as shit. I usually drink gatorades or stuff like that and tons of coffee/cigarettes. Definetly not the healthiest way to stay awake but it works for me.
posted by BrnP84 at 5:55 AM on July 31, 2008

Can you get any Modafinil?
posted by electroboy at 6:24 AM on July 31, 2008

Been there. :(

It may be purely psychological, but my I-didn't-sleep-a-wink routine is to down a vitamin drink - one of those fizzy tabs you drop in a cup of water (or just a multi-vit tablet if I don't have any fizzies) followed by a Red Bull. I trick myself into "knowing" the vitamins are giving me a boost.

Lots of REALLY cold water keeps me awake-ish, but it's the constant trips to the bathroom that keep you alert. While there, splash teeny bit of cold water inside your elbows and behind your ears.

Chew gum.

When you catch yourself spacing, pull on a little lock of hair at the back of your head, near the nape of your neck. The quick sharp "ouch" helps snap you up for a sec.

When you get home, crash. My sympathies.
posted by InfinateJane at 6:34 AM on July 31, 2008

Excuse yourself to the bathroom a few times during the day - set the alarm on your phone/watch/whatever, and park yourself in a stall for a 10-15 minute nap.

Also try to get a nap in over your lunch break.
posted by xotis at 6:48 AM on July 31, 2008

Start with a cold shower. As cold as you can stand it. This will give you an initial wake up and make you look wide awake and aware as you enter your workplace. Begin caffeine of choice as soon as possible. Alternate with ice cold water to drink. When all the caffeine and ice water drives you to bathroom, splash yourself with cold water. If possible, go home at lunch time and take another cold shower. For me, a nap would be the worst thing (I would not wake up again.)
posted by hworth at 7:31 AM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Call out sick. I've suffered from pretty bad insomnia during parts of my life and when I haven't slept during the night no good can come of the day. Just call out sick, try and sleep, but no more than 5 hours so that you can fall asleep at your regular time in the evening.
posted by Kattullus at 7:43 AM on July 31, 2008

I don't recommend napping, though it might work for some people. I've done a fair share of all-nighters and if I nap my body just decides it's sleepy time. I would say: get all of your vitamins plus about 4 times as much caffeine as you would normally take in. Try not to eat heavy. Try to keep moving a bit if you can. You're body can put up with a lot of fatigue if you just keep it going. Keep in mind that you're not trying to have a 'normal' day so much as survive this one and inevitably crash sometime later. Cold shower definitely also works.
posted by nameless.k at 8:18 AM on July 31, 2008

Even on normal days, I like to splash cold water on my face when I get into the late afternoon doldrums. It feels good, and does some kind of reset on my brain.

Repeat as needed.
posted by everichon at 8:32 AM on July 31, 2008

After nights without sleep, the potassium in bananas has helped keep me going during the subsequent day.
posted by EatTheWeek at 8:35 AM on July 31, 2008

Seconding the caffeine naps. Very effective for me, and studies on truck drivers have shown them to be very effective. And unless you've got time to sleep more than an hour and a half, don't nap for more than 45 minutes. It's hard to wake up in the middle of a cycle.

One safety concern: driving tired is dangerous. If you're still feeling exhausted when you have to get behind the wheel, try to find another way to get home, or take a nap first.
posted by ErWenn at 9:11 AM on July 31, 2008

Since it's cool out, you could walk briskly outside for a while instead of a nap.
posted by trig at 9:19 AM on July 31, 2008

If it were me, I would email saying I am coming in late - nap, and then take multivitamin with large amounts of vitamin B.
posted by xammerboy at 9:33 AM on July 31, 2008

Part of this is psychological, as when you are a tired, you keep thinking about how you didn't sleep well, and this begets more tiredness.

I recommend trying to think as if you did have a good night's sleep last night. I've found that when I forget that I had insomnia the night before, and get caught up in the activities of the day, I'm much less tired than if I obsess about how tired I am/should be. It's a bit of a mind trick, until I can actually get myself into bed.
posted by Benevolent Space Robot at 9:40 AM on July 31, 2008

My dirty little secret for when I absolutely can't stay awake in the mornings is Excedrin.

It contains caffeine, but unlike coffee, it's in a steady dose that will last for four hours. I never, ever feel jittery and can actually manage to function like a human being. Bonus: I don't get headaches very often.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:02 AM on July 31, 2008

D'oh. Didn't see that you live in Buenos Aires.

Excedrin is an OTC headache reliever that contains acetominophen (a mild pain killer) and caffeine. I don't know if you can find something similar in a pharmacy, but it's a lot more mild than taking a straight up caffeine pill.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:04 AM on July 31, 2008

Caffeine naps rock. I've relied on them several times to get me through situations with little/no sleep.
posted by mebibyte at 10:30 AM on July 31, 2008

Cold water to the face, caffiene, caffiene naps... these are all the things you can try.

Another way is to rub your head during your breaks. It stimulates bloodflow in your head and brain. Stretch your limbs (yeah, you might look silly doing it in the break room, but who cares, it's for your health), take a walk outside, even do some little jumping jacks. Get that body moving, the blood flowing, the heart pumping. And if you need to take naps, see if you can nap outside. The fresh air will do you good.

There's also slapping your face :).

And then there's a trick I learned during class one time: You can't fall asleep standing up :).
posted by curagea at 10:50 AM on July 31, 2008

Along with a strong cup (or three) of coffee, I find that a little "self gratification" tends to help when I've been up for too long.
posted by lekvar at 12:36 PM on July 31, 2008

Caffeine, but not too much: it will make you jittery and then crash later.

I find that lots of water helps.

Eat a little bit of food often - every 2 hours or so have a healthy snack. (Something with vitamins and protein, not sugary/salty/greasy junk food.) Do not have a big meal at any point. A sushi roll, a salad, some fruit, an omelette, nothing heavier than a sandwich. This gives you a constant energy supply while avoiding the tiredness that can happen when you digest a big meal.

Try to avoid anything too taxing - don't submit a yearly budget, testify in court, drive, or perform heart surgery if you can avoid it.

If possible, go home early and nap before your class.
posted by Cranialtorque at 1:09 PM on July 31, 2008

I've pulled my fair share of all-nighters working on problem sets. No matter what you do, by 4 or 5 PM the next day there's no way you can think coherently or critically. If just staying awake is what you want, make a huge amount of tea & chill it - you can drink it steadily through the day & not feel as bad as you do drinking coffee. Eat steadily but not a lot.

The biggest thing is to have a lot of 'resets,' which other people have already mentioned - splashing cold water on your face, getting outside and walking around, doing a few pushups, etc. And don't make any big decisions. And review all the decisions you do make tomorrow, after you've had sleep.
posted by devilsbrigade at 1:31 PM on July 31, 2008

Catnap in the car during lunch, exercise before work, pinch yourself, try to leave early, don't write any important emails, memos, or reports.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:14 PM on July 31, 2008

Green apples and green tea.

It's hard to overdose on either of them; it's easier to maintain a sensible dose of caffeine with green tea; and the green apples are hydrating and contain fructose which is a slow(er) releasing sugar for energy.

I don't know if the green apple trick is psychosomatic, as this was something I heard from someone in college and there doesn't seem to be any evidence given anywhere, but they don't make you more tired.
posted by sleslie at 2:34 PM on July 31, 2008

Drink a lot of beverages. I don't know about you, but I can't be sleepy so well when I really have to pee.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:41 PM on July 31, 2008

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