Counteracting Sleep Deprivation

You’re bugging out; you packed all night and hit the edge of town as the first light is glimmering over the horizon. Your family, exhausted, clinging to what they felt was most important, are drifting off in the back seat. You’ve got at least two hours to your best friend’s acreage, and that’s if all the bridges are intact between here and there.* You also realize you’re probably not going to get a nap before the sun is setting again.

You make it to your bug out location. As usual the place is a bit of a mess. Your friend works a job that takes her out of town for 5 days out of 7. She does manage to keep the place sanitary, but there’s no mistaking that part of the house is under construction. It takes all day to unpack the car and get every one settled.  The traffic on the usually deserted road is getting noticeably heavier.  You know you should set a watch, but everyone is too exhausted. You settle for alarms at 3 hour increments and try to get some sleep.


The riots in the big cities have been raging for days now. You and your husband have been keeping a watch rotation at night, each of you taking half. 4.5 hours of sleep isn’t much, but you can remember living on that during the baby years, so you try not to dwell on it. Your friend is due back to night. You hope she makes it back, there are reports that rioters have come close to airports. 3 adults will mean more sleep, but just the thought makes your body ache, so you try not to dwell on it.

We’ve all been there, right? It doesn’t even have to be TEOTWAWKI, working multiple jobs, working night shifts, poor sleeping environment, there is a long list of things that can keep a person from getting the proper amount of sleep.

What’s a prepper to do? Make sure you have ways to counteract it, in your preps.

Caffeine – Yea, a no brainer. If you can ensure a coffee supply, or tea those are probably best.  If you try to store something like a soda or energy drink, you’ve got to deal with the weight of all the water, and that’s no ideal for the obvious reason. Caffeine gum could be an option, for short term uses, I would bet it doesn’t store really well though. The military has a version of course, but with 100mg of caffeine per piece, I would say use with caution.

If you’ve got a kid on ADD medication, pop one of two of their Adderall or Ritalin for some focus assistance. Or skip the kids stuff and go straight to an amphetamine.  I wouldn’t know how to get something like that, but what you do in your free time is your own business. (Do we have any American Apocalypse readers? I have to admit, that’s probably where this idea came from.)

Food is a must. If you body is short on sleep, it’s going to demand more fuel to stoke the furnace. You’ll probably need more than 2000 calories, maybe as much as 3000 if you’re doing hard labor on top of the sleep deprivation.

Protect against extreme temperatures. Sleep deprivation will make you more susceptible to heat injury and cold injury. Work with a buddy, or set safety alarms to remind you to take breaks.


This sleep deprived mama is headed to bed. Leave your thoughts in the comments. Got a good strategy? We’d love to hear it.

– Calamity Jane

*You’ll have to forgive my angry grumblings, Iowa is 47th in the nation for the state of its bridges. Literally. As judged by people who would know.

11 comments… add one
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. June 25, 2013, 8:48 am

    Another factor is getting a SOUND sleep. Several years ago, I was really REALLY tired, sometimes nearly falling asleep at the wheel and at my desk at work. My doctor suggested a sleep study – yep, sleep apnea was the culprit. A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) unit really helps me get the most out of a 5 – 6 hour nights sleep I get during the work week. This is the unit with mask with hose that pipes air (not bottled, just ordinary stuff, lol). Makes an unbelievable difference.

    Some CPAPs can be modified for alternative power. Unless your unit is one of the models that heats water for added humidity that is. If you use a CPAP now, I highly suggest you investigate this.

  • irishdutchuncle June 25, 2013, 9:00 am

    step one:

    improve your sleeping ability now, if you haven’t been sleeping well.

    have a sleep study done, if necessary. get a few inflatable pillows…
    have a patch kit for your air mattress. put the snorers in another building, so they don’t ruin sleep time for everyone else.

    • irishdutchuncle June 25, 2013, 9:07 am

      and yeh what j.r. said: CPAP.

      (with a deep cycle battery for power)

  • Ray June 25, 2013, 11:38 am

    If everything go’s to S*** so badly that you need to post guards, Then Adeanaline (spell?) Is going to be your new best friend. Getting to sleep will be a challenge for most- for WEEKs after “the event”. If you can sleep by all means do-and yes post guards, by two’s if possible. If you have a wife that is alert at all , she will hear every bunny fart within 100 yards for DAYS ( fear makes women hyper- alert -double that if they feel hunted -triple if they have babies). Trust her instincts , if she says “something’s wrong” GRAB YOUR WEAPON. Stay away from the drugs!! They MIGHT give you a “boost” now but the “crash” will be a disaster later. (It’s common for people who take uppers to sleep for days when they crash) Also uppers make you NUTTS , It is common for people on uppers to see things that ARE NOT THERE! To become Hyper violent, paranoid and highly deluded. Trip wire’s with “rocks in cans” on them can give some warning , as will dog’s. But nothing can be 100% .

  • JAS June 25, 2013, 12:28 pm

    Keep in mind to that as you get older, you can’t stay awake as long. Forty years ago, I would have laughed at the mention of sleep deprivation, but now feel like I am deprived if I miss a few hours in a night. Age catches up with all of us and we find we can not do the things we used to. Keep that in mind when planning for how you will handle a SHTF scenario. One of the things I learned years ago was if you are on watch and need a little boost, put a pinch of coffee under your lip like snuff. Bitter than hell, but it works.

    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. June 25, 2013, 1:54 pm

      Nice trick JAS (coffee). We take that Atomic Fireball candy on stand when we deer hunt, I imagine some Red Hots would have same effect. Or cinnamon toothpicks (remember those ?) now that I think about it.

  • anonymous June 25, 2013, 3:19 pm

    I know pseuphedrine keeps me awake. You have to show ID at a pharmacy to get because people mix it with other stuff and make some sort of an upper. What is mix. ed a.nd how its done, Idk

    • lateToTheParty June 26, 2013, 6:59 pm

      It’s used to make meth. PE may be great but Meth = BAD. Like Bath Salts bad. When I worked at District Photo (Clarke was parent company I think) in Md, I took the late shift to get the $ differential. I used caffeine pills for a while but after a while I got acclimated to those. The day I processed a days worth of film and had zero memory of it, I started looking for a better job.

      For me exercise instead of the cigarettes on breaks. Protein, no carbs. Changing temp to cold helps. Singing to myself – sometimes. Basically if I can’t get 4 hours of sleep I just push through, < 4 is worse than none. And yeah, go without enough sleep and you start seeing Harvey the rabbit, pixies, demons and all sorts of scary stuff. While seeing reality below all that.

  • Kiwi Mossberg Fan June 25, 2013, 7:19 pm

    Staring me a new job on 1st July and it involves shift work: 3 day shifts, 3 x 24hr days off then back for 3 night shifts: 6am – 6.30pm AM shift : 6pm – 6.30am PM shift. as an ex Navy man its like standing watches, I know guys who are in the services and fire department and police force who rotate thru similar shift cycles and the main thing they all have in common is the sleep deprivation.

    Main focus for me will be to eat well, eat clean (no processed food). Excercise, exercise and more exercise in my off periods. And when I do get to sleep especially during the day due to the night shifts, is to have a constant uninterupted 8 hrs in a dark room.

    • JAS June 25, 2013, 9:41 pm

      Dang, I remember those shifts when I was on the PD. I hated them. The worst part was the constantly changing shifts. Just as you where getting used to a shift, you switched, so you never got good sleep. Even when you had a four day off, it took two just to get into a sleep routine. I always told them I would have rather worked all midnite shift than those rotating shifts. Thank God for coffee.

  • Me June 26, 2013, 6:49 am

    I wouldn’t recommend amphetamines, it’s too easy to pass the stay awake dosage and get in to the every shadow is moving dosage, seems that in a stressful time you might end up shooting at shadows.


Leave a Comment