Nothing says MUN like sleep deprivation. From 9 to 6 committees to conference dinners, socials, and all those in-between catch ups with old MUN buddies, it’s amazing MUN participants are able to get any sleep at all. Yet somehow we manage to sneak in a few hours here and there, and continue on our merry way. This article will take a look at the five-step program to managing a conference while sleep-deprived.
Step 1: Brace Yourself
Winter might be coming, but long days and even longer nights are too. The first step to managing extreme sleep deprivation is to prepare for it. Keep yourself healthy the days leading up to the conference: get a lot of sleep, eat healthy, take vitamins, whatever you need to do. You are the best judge of knowing what your body can or cannot handle. Much like athletes who prepare their bodies before a tournament, MUNers should prepare themselves for the long haul. A few days of little-to-no sleep doesn’t take as much of a toll on a healthy body as it does on one that is already tired.
For any college (or a demanding high school) student, caffeine is pretty much a given to achieving, well, anything. The key to successful caffeination, though, is timing. Caffeine takes about 30-40 minutes to kick in, so it is imperative that coffee (or tea) is taken in before productivity is expected. Anastasios Vourexakis, a 6-year MUN veteran and Aberystwyth University alumni, “swears by a double-shot macchiato” half an hour before committee starts. This allows him to “wake up by the time [he has] to concentrate and chair”. So it’s a good idea to grab a coffee before you dress – that way, by the time you’re dressed & have gotten to committee, the caffeine has kicked in and you’re ready to start off focused. While other MUNers are groggily sipping their coffees in committee, you’ll be focused and have a half-hour advantage to rock committee.
Step 3: Keep the Routine
Conferences tend to disrupt all routines: food, travel, and, of course, sleep. Yet keeping your morning routine can make you feel more prepared and awake during the day. “Even through getting an extra 30 minutes of sleep might seem worth it”, Max Wirka, long-time MUNer at St. Andrews University, says that going through your “morning ritual will make you feel more awake by the time you enter the committee room”. There’s nothing that throws your day off more than a rushed, ill-prepared morning – and these types of messy mornings are even more difficult to rebound from when you’re sleep deprived. So stick to your morning routine to keep the rest of your hectic day in check. Step 4: Eat to Make Up for the Sleep
Sleep isn’t the only way to feel rejuvenated. It’s no secret that conferences bring out the worst in our eating habits. Suddenly, sugar seems like decent sustenance and fast food becomes more than a quick snack – its a lifestyle. But the combination of bad foods and sleep deprivation is deadly. Sugar leads to sugar highs and crashes, and food should stabilize you – not add to your instability. Not only are you sapping your immune system, but your body is unable to generate the energy it needs to push your way through the committee floor. Eating healthy is always a good idea, but when you’re sleep deprived and still expected to perform passionately, it’s a necessity. Get natural sugars from fruit, protein from meat, vitamins and minerals from vegetables, and all the other balanced healthy lifestyle choices your mom keeps reminding you to keep up. Heena Mohammed, former President of University of Manchester MUN, mentions that “water all day” and “a really good meal, like carbs, during the day” are key. In short: stay healthy, stay stable, stay energized. Plus, you’ll avoid that post-conference bloat.
Step 5: Go With It
Lastly, and most obviously, the best way to power through is to just, well, power through. Conferences are exciting: meeting new people, discussing big ideas, pushing your style boundaries in formal wear, traveling to a new place. For shorter conferences, this adrenaline alone is usually enough to make it through relatively unscathed. As Marcus Gustafsson, former Secretary-General of ScotMUN says, he “just goes”.
Five steps to lasting that five day conference: prepare to be sleep deprived, caffeinate yourself in a timely fashion, eat healthy, and let the adrenaline fuel you. Managing these steps means enjoying a conference with the focus and energy you need. Then, of course, indulge in the unofficial sixth step post-conference: sleep!