Convention Survival Guide, Post #6 – Fatigue: or oh God I have to go back to work!

Extreme fatigue can make it difficult to enjoy the convention, make it nearly impossible for you to make it to work the day after, and endanger your life on the drive home. So how do we deal with this?

The first and most obvious answer is get some sleep at the convention. I realize that for some of you this is not going to be a popular answer. Really, nothing goes on between 2 or 3 AM and 10 AM at most conventions. When I was in my 20s I would have argued for hours that the statement was wrong but by the time I hit 30 I had to admit that it was true. When you’re younger that seven or eight hours can make all the difference and when you get older it is not enough.

Now, for the sake of knowing my audience, I would assume that you’re going to completely blow off and ignore that first piece of advice. If you don’t the second piece of advice will be even better but if you do the second part will be essential for survival.

Now for a little background. This is really vital to the information but it keeps my blog from being three paragraphs and should make it easier for you to remember the information.

See, that’s why I can’t be a politician; I’m always telling the truth.

As a science nerd growing up I read every science paper I could get my hands on. In college taking premed, psychology, and astronomy, working on an astrophysics degree, I still read journals for fun. Research had shown firmly that if you wanted to stay up you really needed to eat protein not sugar and things like caffeine and sugar both can make you crash after a while. When you’re ready to sleep you need a complex carbohydrate like rice or pasta.

A good friend of mine was going to conventions and living off of sugar and caffeine. Okay, let’s be honest, most of my friends were doing that. But I proposed an experiment to one of them in particular and he accepted the challenge.

One convention we spent using sugar and caffeine to keep us up. The backbone of this was jolt cola (all the sugar, twice the caffeine) because energy drinks weren’t available yet and Little Debbies because the convention con suite provided them for free. A lot of potato chips were also involved as a supporting cast member.

The second convention we brought cheese, nuts, vitamin pills, some vegetables, peanut butter with bread, milk, and I don’t remember what else. We did have one or two of the higher protein snacks and I think I drank a Coke.

I heard him telling the story of this recently and it was fascinating to hear him telling people how it changed his life. At the end of the first convention he kept having problems with almost passing out at work and at the end of the second convention he was fine after a single night’s sleep.

One of the unusual things I’ve discovered through the ancient scientific method of trial and error is that if you wait to take extra vitamins till after you are already tired you will crash hard. Yeah, okay, get the sleep you need. If, on the other hand, you start taking vitamins before you get tired and keep taking them all weekend, they help you handle the stress and have more energy.

If you take vitamins every day your body gets used to it and you can actually become dependent on them. For that reason even though I take relatively frequent supplements I will skip for a few days (usually about three) before conventions and take a much larger amount of vitamins just before going to a con..

A good balanced meal before the convention and lots of sleep are of course an essential. You should plan to have one or two meals in local restaurants or at least the hotel restaurant. Hotel restaurants usually are not very good and are always overpriced but have the advantage of being convenient.

Alternating between exercise and rest is also good but this is generally facilitated by going to a panel then going through the dealers room and then walking to the con suite to sit and talk for a while. So in a sense that part is built into a convention. If you don’t get a lot of exercise normally you may be sore after a convention. A hot bath with a quarter cup of powdered ginger (more or less depending on your sensitivity) will help sweat out the toxins and cause your muscles to recover faster. Drink lots of fluids.

Coffee is an interesting compromise because it is reasonably high in protein but has caffeine and if you add milk or cream adds calcium and more protein. Not so good if you had a lot of sugar. If on the other hand you have asthma you should not drink coffee unless you are having an asthma emergency. If you do not drink coffee on a regular basis is more effective than an inhaler for stopping an asthma attack. It does not matter whether you are drinking decaf or regular that’s not the part of the coffee that stops the asthma. It actually has some adrenaline analogues better what open your lungs. Tea has caffeine but does not stop an asthma attack. Chocolate has caffeine and adrenaline analogues but has no effect on asthma either unless of course you’re allergic to it.

In my previous blog “where to stay at the convention or don’t mind me I’ll sleep in the TARDIS,” I discussed the effects of staying up for five days surviving off of what the con suite provides. Let’s just say you don’t want to wake up on a bus in the wrong state. Now that was of course before con suite started providing any real food.

Well, please excuse me. I need to go pass out now. Good night, and good luck until next time.

Copyright © 2012 Julian Thomas Reid III

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