You know those times when you have to stay up doing something not totally enchanting and you are running on a couple hours of sleep and you’ve already had too much coffee and feel jittery-weird like you are going to have a heart attack yet you can’t go to sleep and it’s all you’ve ever ever ever wanted?
Driving home from GDC (San Francisco -> LA), I was completely knackered yet had to get back. More coffee might have worked if it didn’t cause an aneurysm, but I also worry about the long term effects. The gas station food mart offered various energy drinks in all kinds of artificial flavors… but I just couldn’t do it. I knew I’d just feel weird afterwards, and have to make my mouth taste all sugary weird in the meantime. I reluctantly exited the gas station without purchasing an energy-boost, feeling a bit dejected… did I just sacrifice my short-term health for my long-term health? Instead of having a heart attack or high blood pressure was I going to fall asleep at the wheel?
I remembered a few tricks I’ve used over the years to stay awake when I really needed sleep. My alternative “stay awake” solutions:
- Floating Leg. If sitting, hold one leg up continuously, just off the ground. Switch legs every couple minutes or so. You should wake up if you fall asleep because your leg falls to the floor. This kind of works, but I always found it irritating – it seemed to require conscious effort to sustain which distracts from whatever you are trying to get done. Plus, I don’t like actually falling asleep and being woken up right away. Whether it be by oncoming traffic, or a falling leg.
- Hard candy. This worked pretty well, actually. I guess it’s a bit like absent-mindedly gnawing on something… enough sensation to keep my brain awake but still a “normal” activity that doesn’t intrude much on other thoughts. Even though sugar is beautiful manna from heaven, it has its drawbacks: fills you up, rots your teeth (among others).
I didn’t have any hard candy, and I’m getting to the point where I don’t like to compromise my health (my body is a temple)… but I did have wasabi peas! Surely it was worth a shot!
wasabi peas are spicy manna from heaven
The next moment I felt sleepy, I popped a few peas. The spicy wasabi stomped my sleepiness into submission. I AM HERE. I AM NOW. The remaining hours of the drive were easy-peasy. (LOL?)
I highly recommend wasabi peas if you are able to eat spicy food. If you like spicy food, it’s even better. Anytime I started to lose it, I’d start munching peas again. Unlike hard candy, they won’t fill you up and won’t rot your teeth. The spicy stimulus focused my attention and awakened me every time. (insert cheer here: W-A-S-A-B-EEE, WASABI PEAS!)
And you, dear reader… do you have any super STAY AWAKE tips? Would love to hear them!