Staying awake the first 48 hours

Written by Steven Hill

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When the news begins to filter of the apocalypse you will no doubt have very little time to enact your plan. News will be short and once major cities begin to fall you will notice transmission will be broken, most likely defaulted to emergency communications. You will then notice the power begin to blackout, first this will be intermittent but within hours it will be completely unavailable. From the first news to complete outage you would be lucky to have a total of 7 hours. In this time you will be ensuring you have your crew safely together, your supplies and equipment stock piled and be heading for your bunker or defence position.


Much like any life changing event, your adrenalin will pump you through the first 24 hours without a consideration of tiredness and perhaps even into the 30th hour if you are caught in any Zombie fighting. Unfortunately our biggest weakness against Zombies is our need for sleep. Due to the decreased brain activity of the walking dead you will find they do not sleep and are on a constant mission to locate, consume and destroy all living human flesh. So how do you cope without sleep and when does it become a problem?

sleep chart

During the first 48 hours you will need to enact your survival plan and set up base. Depending on the location of your settlement and the number in your party you will need to take turns at sleeping, best to do this depending on the individual’s preference as some people have trouble sleeping in daylight. Your shift sleeping should allow enough time to gain a useful sleep that will recharge the brain cells; best to be at least 6 hour blocks allowing for time either side to fall asleep and wake up. The shift of sleeping for those that have stood guard at the beginning should be longer to allow more recovery after being awake for the 48 hour period.

If you find you are alone during this apocalypse and have no safe haven arranged then it is key to your survival you do not fall asleep for the first 48 hours. Once you have found a place to settle you will need to stay awake for a minimum of 12 hours ensuring it is indeed a safe haven. This will be the most difficult stage of your survival as sitting and not having stimulus will definitely make you feel more tired. Stimulating drinks, pills and eating a lot of food will help as your body will need these to continue to operate and keep you alert enough to defend yourself. Ensuring you do not continue to do the same thing for too long, if you are sitting make sure you stand or walk at thirty minute intervals to give your mind something different to focus on and your body does not start to shut down into sleep mode.

Beyond 48 hours you are entering dangerous territory for your body if you do not gain some sleep. The human body requires sleep and it is vital to your sanity during these difficult times that you do get sufficient rest. Hallucinations and loss of motor control are two symptoms that will quickly appear if you have been deprived of sleep beyond this point, leading to more serious conditions like psychosis and paranoid psychotic episodes. Now in a heightened emotional state with such big risks you will most likely suffer a lapse in concentration when you have not slept and if you add to the already exaggerated feeling of paranoia these symptoms will not be something you can ignore.

Sleep in a confined space with only one entrance, ensure beyond the entrance is a further room or doorway which is locked. If you are alone, attempt to sleep on high ground a tree or platform would be ideal, and to ensure you do not fall simply tether yourself to the object. Having some form of alarm system sounds like a great idea, but be warned an alarm should be silent, perhaps a string which pulls on your foot or hand as any loud noises may simply attract further zombies to your safe house.

bed in tree

The best advice is to ensure you have a survival group ready to be a team during the event of an apocalypse, but remember you may lose some of your party in the early stages of the new world so whilst you should stay close emotional bonds can lead you into dangerous situations that put your life at risk. Planning the actions and location of your group is important ensuring everyone knows their role before it happens, there is no room for arguments when you are trying to live through the apocalypse. Any plan of survival should include a timescale and keep this within 48 hours, do not plan your safe haven if it is too far away, or perhaps ensure you have a secondary location closer by for your first stop. Good Luck and see you out there!

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