[CQ-Contest] Drugs, Sleep and Contesting

Dennis Vernacchia n6ki73 at gmail.com
Fri May 22 15:14:52 PDT 2009

How about a new Class Category


Single Assisted Drugs



On Fri, May 22, 2009 at 2:17 PM, <scottw3tx at verizon.net> wrote:

> Good advice is "Just Say No"
> 73, Scott W3TX
> -----Original Message-----
> From: cq-contest-bounces at contesting.com
> [mailto:cq-contest-bounces at contesting.com] On Behalf Of Dick Green WC1M
> Sent: Friday, May 22, 2009 2:17 PM
> To: 'Pete Smith'; cq-contest at contesting.com
> Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Drugs, Sleep and Contesting
> Personally, I'm not interested in using any artificial chemical means of
> staying awake. The stress of staying up for 40+ hours pounds my aging body
> enough without adding drugs with potentially dangerous side effects. I
> think
> there are better ways: fitness, eating right, minimizing stress and getting
> enough sleep.
> Fitness
> K5ZD refers to this in his NCJ article, and I can attest from personal
> experience that being fit is the best way to cope with the debilitating
> effects of sleep deprivation. Five years ago, I lost about 50 lbs by
> controlling my caloric intake and exercising more (generally in that order
> -- one life-style change at a time.) This made a world of difference to my
> ability to endure putting in a full effort in a 48-hour contest. I won't
> say
> it made me feel terrific when I hadn't had any sleep for 36 hours, but it
> was a heck of a lot better than when I was out of shape. Since then, my
> weight has fluctuated a bit and there's pretty-much 100% correlation
> between
> how I feel during contests how fit I am.
> Eating Right
> Back around 2001, I read an article about an Air Force study on techniques
> used by long-haul pilots for coping with sleep deprivation. It contained a
> list of foods that are good for staying alert and foods that make you
> sleepy. Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of the article anywhere, but the
> recommendations were pretty intuitive. Caffeine and sugar don't work over
> long periods because you get the peak-and-valley effect with progressively
> deeper valleys. Carbs (especially processed carbs) make you sleepy. It's
> generally best to eat lean proteins, though I've read that if you go into
> ketosis you can have other problems like muscle cramps. Among the good
> foods
> I can remember off the top of my head are chicken, avocados, yogurt, aged
> cheeses. I've found that eating less is almost always best for my
> particular
> metabolism (YMMV.) Eating small amounts more frequently is usually better
> for me than eating a smaller number of large meals, provided I'm not
> constantly snacking. I try to eat just enough to keep hunger from
> distracting me, but not so much that I feel full.
> My contest menu goes something like this:
> Breakfast - one or two hard-boiled eggs and a fruit yogurt
> Lunch - small bowl of tuna mixed with cottage cheese, grape tomatoes, a few
> olives and seasoned salt
> Dinner - small bowl of homemade roast chicken, leek and bean soup prepped
> before the contest and microwaved
> Snacks - apples (anytime), 1-ounce portions of almonds and peanuts about
> once per day
> Again, less is more, especially the breakfast meal which I eat just before
> 20m opens in the morning. You don't want to be bloated for that. I
> sometimes
> drink decaf tea in the evenings or when I'm feeling the exhaustion, but try
> to minimize that. I usually drink one cup of caffeinated tea before the
> morning runs, especially on the second day. I'm still experimenting with
> that -- not so sure it's a good idea, even though the caffeine level is
> relatively low.
> Needless to say, food and drink should be quickly and easily accessible,
> and
> prep time should rangel from little to none. I used to burn up a lot of
> time
> in CQ WW dealing with food. Now I want to measure that lost time in seconds
> as opposed to minutes.
> I'm often surprised by the food served or made available to contesters at
> multis. I like the social aspect of the team sitting down together for a
> nice meal before the contest starts, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to
> eat a big plate of pasta and a high-calorie desert at 2300z. The ubiquitous
> presence of high-carb/fat/salt snacks and soft drinks laden with caffeine
> and sugar isn't a great idea, either. It's generally not a problem if there
> are plenty of ops to keep the shifts short, but for thinly-manned
> operations
> it's not good. Of course, I can imagine the reaction to a tray of
> high-fiber
> crackers with aged cheese, nuts and cups of yogurt!
> Minimizing Stress
> There's a pretty good correlation between my level of stress in the weeks
> leading up to the contest and my performance under the pressure of sleep
> deprivation. Less stress, better performance (and I feel better during the
> contest, too.) For me, stress is an energy-sapper. I can't count the number
> of times some work matter has blown up the week before the contest,
> compressing or eliminating the time I have to mentally prepare. I've often
> had to do cross-country plane trips in the days leading up to a contest,
> and
> that's a big negative as well (good reason to get to that DXpedition QTH as
> far in advance as possible!) Although not strictly a stress-generator, I've
> often been rushing to finish a station-construction project in the days
> before the contest. This can sap lots energy and, depending on the project,
> can create unneeded stress. Finally, stress sometimes interferes with my
> ability to sleep before the contest -- the next subject.
> Getting Enough Sleep
> I guess the experts would say that you can't store sleep, but I've found
> that if I get a lot of sleep in the weeks before the contest, and
> especially
> the last few days before the contest, I do much better. Those times when,
> for one reason or another, I've been getting along on much less than 7-8
> hours per night (sometimes 3-5 hours), I'm generally a wreck by the time
> the
> contest rolls around. Of one thing I'm sure: not getting enough sleep in no
> way prepares you for the sleep deprivation of contesting. This is a case
> where practice or pre-conditioning are useless. If I can get a good-night's
> sleep every night for the two-weeks leading up to the contest, I'll do much
> better. Many have extolled the benefits of taking a nap in the hours just
> before the contest starts. I've had mixed results with this. For some
> contests, I need too much time on the day of the contest to finalize
> preparations: get food, prepare it, finish building projects, get the
> station ready, etc. Quite often there just isn't any time left to nap. Or,
> when there has been enough time, the stress of getting ready along with the
> excitement and anticipation of contesting make it hard to fall asleep at
> 3:00 PM. More and more, I've tried to get as much prep out of the way as
> possible the day before the contest. If I have more to do, or have work
> obligations, I'll get up fairly early and try to nap for 90 minutes to
> three
> hours in the afternoon. If I have the day off, I'll sleep very late and not
> nap at all.
> A Work in Progress
> I'm still working on all this. For me, the first day of the contest is by
> far the most difficult part. I think this is the opposite of how many
> others
> feel. I believe most contesters are carried by freshness and excitement the
> first day but generally get worn out by the second day. For me, the first
> night can be very difficult, especially if the rate is low or I've not had
> a
> good start. If the starting hour is bad, I have lots of trouble motivating
> myself to get into the flow of the contest. Things will pick up for me
> during the first set of morning runs, assuming the rate is good, but I'll
> usually sag during the afternoon doldrums. But once I've made it through
> the
> first 24 hours, I'm usually in rhythm and can see the light at the end of
> the tunnel. In fact, I'm often very keyed up because I sense that time is
> running out! If I had a good first day, the accelerating rate of score
> buildup on the second day always keeps me motivated -- there's nothing like
> having a strong 7-digit score already in the bag and watching it jump
> significantly after every QSO and new mult.
> 73, Dick WC1M
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Pete Smith [mailto:n4zr at contesting.com]
> > Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2009 2:35 PM
> > To: cq-contest at contesting.com
> > Subject: [CQ-Contest] Drugs, Sleep and Contesting
> >
> > I was thinking of writing a little piece on this for the Contest
> > Compendium's section on sleep deprivation.  My memory no doubt has
> > gaps, but I don't recall any serious discussion of the topic here.  I
> > think that a couple of years ago there was a flurry of interest in a
> > drug called Provigil that had been developed for use by people
> > afflicted with narcolepsy, but that's all I recall.
> >
> > Obviously, I'm not suggesting a discussion of illegal drug use (no
> > greenies, please) but I wonder what the collective experience has
> > been.  Have you tried anything other than the measures suggested in
> > the Compendium article on Sleep strategies?  See
> > http://wiki.contesting.com/index.php/Table_of_Contents#Contest_Operating
> > for that.
> >
> > 73, Pete N4ZR
> > New Articles Daily - the Contesting Compendium at
> http://wiki.contesting.com
> > The World Contest Station Database, updated daily at
> www.conteststations.com
> > The Reverse Beacon Network at http://reversebeacon.net
> >
> >
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