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Columns > John Zinkand - Improvise

Published: 2007/03/21
by John Zinkand

Sleep vs. Music

Its a never-ending battle that only gets tougher and more savage as one gets older. Although the need for live music can be a driving force, the need for sleep can be a strong opposing power. In the summertime when festivals abound, sleepiness is no excuse. Festivals are multiple day events where sleep deprivation is to be expected, even heralded and enjoyed. One can mentally prepare, adjust their sleep schedule in the days leading up to the event, or just suck up the lack of sleep for a few days and catch up upon their depressing return to ugly, post-festival reality.
But what if something out of a jamband fans control happens to alter their sleep patterns? What then?? For instance, what if a person was working an 11am-8pm shift, which made taking in mid-week shows fun and easy, and was suddenly switched to a 6am-3pm shift? The getting up at 4:45am might throw a major monkey wrench into the works. How does one get up before the break of dawn, work a full and tiring workday, and still have energy left over to go see a show? If skipping the tunes is just not an option, maybe try these ideas on for size.
The most obvious solution can actually be the most tricky and deceptive, the nap. When were sleepy, a nap sounds great. In theory, a nap is a quick way to reinvigorate ones mind and body. Just lay down that weary head on the soft pillow and drift away for 20 minutes to an hour and wake up refreshed and ready to rock. Nice theory, but the reality can be quite different. With all naps, over-napping is a serious risk. Its all too easy to hit that snooze button when one first wakes or to set no alarm at all and nap for well over an hour. Personally, a nap over an hour makes me even more sluggish and tired than before the nap. Going to a show over-napped can be a trying ordeal that feels more like a sleepy dream than an intense auditory experience. The last thing a person wants to do in that delirious over-napped state is dance. Not to say that napping isnt a good way to combat sleepiness. Its just that one has to be careful not to overdo it. A 20-30 minute power nap can be incredibly refreshing. With the proper quick nap, a sleep deprived jam fan can be out there shaking ass like a 17 year old that slept in until 1pm.
The other obvious choice when it comes to combating sleepiness is coffee. Coffee has that powerful kick of caffeine we all know and love. One can brew up a pot of coffee, guzzle it down, and get out to the show with energy to spare. If regular coffee isnt good enough, one can usually find a gourmet espresso beverage at their local coffee shop. Try a latte, mocha, or even a caramel machiatto to give you that caffeine boost as well as a flavor sensation. Of course, one can overdo it with coffee, as well. Its no fun trying to dance at a show with a bad case of rot gut. Coffee can be quite acidic, and depending on your stomachs sensitivity, can really wreck you. Its not fun hitting the bathroom every 30 minutes at a show (usually those bar mens restrooms are not a place anyone would want to have a seat, either). Its never fun feeling queasy and jittery whilst trying to take in a show. So if you go with the coffee solution, just make sure your stomach can handle it and you know your limits.

For those who do not like the taste or acidity of the esteemed cup of Joe, there are always those new fangled energy drinks. While most of them taste absolutely disgusting and, for me, induce a gagging reflex, some folks just love them to pieces. The taurine mixed with caffeine and sugar seems to be just the right combo for many people. And if it picks you up enough that you are feeling good and flying high at the show, throw some alcohol in the mix and have a vodka and Redbull. Energy plus an alcohol kick can be quite the entertaining buzz!
Now some of our more crunchy brethren and kind sisters have a strong dislike for the chemical laden, sugary energy beverages. For them a better solution might be the all natural energy derived from a cool bottle of Yerba Mate tea. This stuff is pretty wild. It gives the body and mind energy, but there is no caffeine. The beverage is all natural, organic, and made from tea. They even have tasty flavors like raspberry. While the taste is a little unusual, it isnt awful and it kind of grows on you after a few bottles. Dont expect a sugar-coated flavor like the mass marketed energy beverages, however. I discovered Yerba Mate at High Sierra Music Festival and have been a believer ever since.

Of course the oldest trick in the jamfan book when it comes to overcoming the dreaded tiredness at a show is drugs. Its a stereotype that hippies do lots of drugs, but stereotypes gotta come from somewhere, right?? While naps, coffee, and energy drinks might work, they also might not depending on how tired one might be. Sleepiness is a powerful force and sometimes energy beverages and little naps just arent enough to win the good fight.
A line of cocaine, a few mushrooms, or a hit of LSD on the other hand will perk up anyone who can deal with the consequences. Theres no question about it, you will not be sleepy if you go any of these less healthy and illegal routes. But the risks are large. First of all, these drugs are illegal and all have negative side effects (the main one being possible jail time, of course). Trying to deal with your new reality after ingesting psychedelics in a small, crowded bar can be intense to put it mildly. But if one wants to throw caution to the wind and thinks they can handle the experience, one of these harder drugs will definitely keep you awake for the show and then some. Of course, moderation is the key – especially if sleeping at some point after the show has any importance.
Im not saying its good to take chemicals or need naps to be able to get out and enjoy a live concert. Its not. The optimal situation is to be naturally well rested, feeling good, and ready to rock. But in our fast paced society with its ever changing demands, sometimes that situation is just not possible. If the boring option of skipping all the fun is as unacceptable to you as it is to me, I say we do what we need to do to get to the show. Sleep is for the weak.

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