[CQ-Contest] Sleep Deprivation Summary
coopersg at odl.co.uk
Wed Dec 8 14:40:53 EST 1999
>From the subscriber that brought you the now infamous 'Last 2' thread. Now!
...or how to last a 48 hour contest without feeling like death...
It was obvious that my 'Sleep Deprivation' message started a thread which
some found interesting. I have tried here to summarise the postings which I
received. I hope it's of some help.
There is no doubt that the human metabolism will function better over a 48
hour period of little sleep, if attention is paid to fitness and diet. Diet
seems to have the most obvious and immediate effect on the ability to last
the 48 hour period.
1. It's a proven medical fact that we should sleep in multiples of 90
minutes. Most sleep 90 mins on early Sunday morning, and some on Saturday
morning too. In general, it seems like a good idea to get 3 hours in before
the contest starts, which is easy in Europe, but difficult in West USA.
Varied feelings about whether to get a'lie in' on the Friday morning, but
certainly not good to have a very late night on Thursday. 'Adrenelin' seems
to be a big factor for some in keeping you going through the weekend. For
others, the opposite is true - relaxed and laid-back gets them through.
Whether you're wired or tired, it makes little difference to the final
result. It's the ability to sustain concentration that matters.
2. Drink in moderation, but regularly. Drink to quench thirst. Do not drink
caffeinated beverages. Caffeine will lower the blood sugar level thereby
affecting the ability to concentrate. Coke, tea and coffee contain caffeine.
Milk will make talking difficult - radio and TV news readers avoid milk.
Unsweetened fruit juice, a little often, is good. It is far more difficult
to waken up if you have managed to get to sleep with a high caffeine level.
3. When to eat? Stick to eating at regular intervals. Every 6 hours with a
small snack at 3hr intervals is good. Normal eating times are also good.
It's what your body expects.
4. What to eat? The objective is to maintain a steady blood-glucose level of
around 4-5 mmol throughout the weekend, with a slightly higher than normal
intake of protein. In normal healthy individuals, high blood-glucose levels
lead to poor concentration and drowsiness whilst low blood-glucose levels
lead to iritability, short temper and loss of aptitude. 4-5 mmol, a
moderately low level, will be achieved by avoiding anything containing
simple carbohydrates like sugar or bleached pure white flour. So, good is
wholemeal bread, bad is plain white bread. Good is potato skins, bad is
creamed potato. Good is natural fruit juices, bad is sports drinks. Good is
fruit, bad is sweets/candy. Whilst sports drinks will give the body a big
hit of energy, this hit is followed by a very deep low in blood-glucose
levels. Complex carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits and grains) are good, in
that they take a long time to digest, help maintain a steady blood-glucose
level and help avoid surges.
So what should we eat and drink?
sandwiches of wholemeal bread, with meat or cheese
pure orange juice
5. How much to eat? In general, it is best to eat less food than you would
6. Avoid smoking.
7. Keep fit. This is really quite important. If you are fit your body will
react less badly to poor sleep patterns.
8. Avoid alcohol.
9. Avoid working on 'stuff' right up to the wire. Prepare well for the
contest and 'know' that you have. There is a hidden side to knowing that you
are well prepared. This will help you relax prior to and during the event,
which is one of the keys to making it through the full 48 hours. It feels
good to feel loud, and believe that your signal is getting through - 'I know
what I'm doing'. Learn from the previous year. Immediately after a major
contest write down what was wrong, what went wrong, what was good, and what
was bad. That way, next year you will be a little more prepared, and a
little more relaxed.
10. Smile when you talk. Sound happy. Even if you feel like death, don't let
the other guy know it! People like to call happy people. Not a lot of good
on CW, of course.
Other points worth noting...
Vitimin B can help you feel less tired over a period of time, and may be
beneficial. I would not take this as a recommendation to take vitimins
though - see your doctor first!
Tablets/medication like ProPlus (in the UK) which are really just
concentrated caffeine, will keep you awake but your ability to make even the
simplest decision is diminished, and concentration is virtually impossible.
Trouble is, I don't think you are aware of this if you have taken them!
Someone suggested avoiding salt, but this may not be recommended in hot
climates, as lack of salt can lead to muscle cramps. It's unlikely that the
lack or even overdose of salt over such a short time frame would have that
much effect anyway.
A number of ops mentioned feeling rough for the whole of the week following
a contest. I didn't after the CQ WW SSB, but did after the CW. And I haven't
felt bad like this before - I recover fairly quickly normally. I don't know
what this is all about.
Some ops mentioned a lack of aptitude - the inability to physically send
certain complex CW codes. This is probably due to low blood-glucose levels
and lack of sleep. The inability to receive more than 3 or 4 characters at a
time seems to result from high blood-glucose levels and lack of sleep. What
to do? Sleep, I guess!
I don't want to sound like an expert. I'm not a dietition. I'm not a
top-flight operator. But I am diabetic (insulin dependent), and hence, have
a requirement to keep my blood-glucose level under control. I made some
fundamental mistakes in the last CQ WW CW Contest, and I am passing on what
I have learnt, both from personal experience and from the experience of
others. I hope others can benefit from this.
CQ-Contest on WWW: http://www.contesting.com/_cq-contest/
Administrative requests: cq-contest-REQUEST at contesting.com
More information about the CQ-Contest