Lessons in Sleep Deprivation

I need sleep.

I have not received more than four hours of sleep for the last five days, due to a very intense shoot schedule for the TV pilot I’m helping produce. 21-hour work days thus far, four more days to go.

I have, however, learned a few things in my fight against sleep deprivation. Bleary-eyed and far from bushy-tailed, here are my top ten lessons of work-induced sleep deprivation.

1. You can’t fight it. If you must lose sleep, even if it’s due to a very ambitious work schedule, you have to submit to it.

2. Submitting to it means that you won’t feel more rested, you’ll just feel less angry when your alarm goes off after your daily four-hour nap.

3. Certain skills you once regularly possessed with ease will no longer come so simply. These skills for me are all wrapped up in numbers. I cannot add, subtract or conceive of altering schedules, dialing phone numbers or, worst, counting cash. Do not rely on me for any of these things.

4. There will be portions of your brain that will not be accessible until you are able to fully recharge. For me, this is my sense of humor. Now, I am normally witty and dry, absolutely deliriously silly at times, and frequently find something like an animated cereal mascot hysterical, but what I cannot do right now is read sarcasm. This has made me the butt of many practical jokes, as we’re all recognizing just which parts of our brains disappear without sleep.

5. Dreaming about getting more sleep will not help you in your current state. Refer to #1 and #2.

6. You should not drive. Thankfully, in our scheduling process we had a mind to ensure that our drivers shuttling us from the hotel to the shoot location are receiving at least 8 hours of sleep each day. Case in point: I tried to get us to a local restaurant (by way of navigation, not behind the wheel), and thoroughly confused my left turns with my right turns. Not safe and not anywhere close to said restaurant.

7. Under no circumstances should you consume energy drinks, especially a certain kind that would merely fill a shot glass. Throughout this process already, I have watched many a cast/crew-member lose what little contents they had in their bellies post-energy drink consumption. I’ve been warned that it only gets worse. I don’t plan on tempting it.

8. “Eat when you’re hungry” is a good rule of thumb, however, you will feel like you’re eating at all hours of the day. This is because, well, you are. Forget your diet, you need fuel. Just submit. (Oh, there I go again.)

9. Upon arriving to your hotel, head straight to bed. We’ve had a few instances of people who wasted their hours off just staring at the lobby television, like lobotomized rats. Trust me, the bed is incredibly comfortable and your body will thank you.

10. Know that this too shall pass. Sleep will come, and when it does, you will fully surrender.

With that, I’m off to catch a few winks before my midnight to 9 a.m. shift. Good “night,” cyber-friends.

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