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Learning patterns/Getting enough sleep at multi-day events

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A learning pattern forconferences
Getting enough sleep at multi-day events
problemMulti-day conferences and hackathons have a lot happening, and it can be easy to get swept up in it and not get enough sleep. This then devalues the subsequent day(s) of the event, which is bad.
solutionPlan ahead, and don't stress about what you'll miss. Just consider when you need to be up for the next day and allow yourself enough hours before that.
created on22:26, 1 August 2015 (UTC)

What problem does this solve?[edit]

It's not uncommon at a conference or hackathon, especially ones such as Wikimania, for attendees to just not get enough sleep no matter how good their accommodations are (though better certainly does help). There are several reasons for this:

  • Each of these events only happens once. Folks often don't want to miss anything and want to see and experience all the things with the people who came and the place it's in, and sleep detracts from the time that can be spent doing so.
This can be particular true for newer folks, especially ones for whom this is their first conference, and also folks for whom this is likely to be the last one they'll get to go to.
  • Wikimedians are insane and have all manner of ridiculous sleeping patterns to begin with, which doesn't always have the best effect on those around them, especially if they're not paying attention or are in a strange timezone or what have you.
  • Stuff just happens. Things come up, you wind up heading off with a group to check some

What is the solution?[edit]

As much as anything, the solution is up to each individual attendee. They know what they need, when they need to get up and what they want to go to, how much sleep they can operate on, how long it will take to get there and back from the accommodation. They need to plan for this, and be aware that it is an issue.

At my first Wikimania in 2012, I wasn't. I didn't plan, I just ran in all the directions to see all the things because it was amazing and awesome and I was there and I totally couldn't afford it but since I'd cobbled some money and went anyway, I was damn well going to get as much out of it as I could in order to justify the meals I was effectively skipping when I got back home. Needless to say, this backfired, and I basically wasted an entire day of the conference completely out of it as a result.

Fast forward to 2015: this time, I got a scholarship to go to Wikimania, so for my second, on top of being a little more wiser and a little less broke this time around, I also didn't feel so pressured to actually justify the entire thing (at least to myself). I could sit back and just go to the things that looked interesting, talk to the people around, not stress about what I was missing, and plan.

Planning is key.

Things to consider[edit]

  • It can help a lot to arrive a day or two early, so you are well rested when the event begins.
  • If you are a person who has always lived at sea level, arriving a day or two early can also help you get used to the altitude in places like Mexico City. Altitude can make you sleepy when you're not used to it.
  • When will the talks you want to get to the next morning start, and will food still be available then?
  • How much sleep do you normally need?
  • How late do you want to be up the following night? Parties, pub crawls, fight night, whatever...
  • If you go to this thing now, will you be able to leave early enough to get back at a reasonable time?
  • A short disco nap before going out for the evening is often the key to party animal success (even if most of the people who do this don't admit it.)
  • How bad is your bed? If it's good, then you probably won't need as much sleep as you might on a bad one.
  • Installing a program like f.lux can make it a lot easier to get to sleep if you like to use your computer right before going to bed.
  • If you are someone who snores loudly, and you let the organizers or roommates know this ahead of time, they can try to ensure you aren't put in a room full of light sleepers.
  • Earplugs! Bring extra pairs of new earplugs. If somebody needs them, they will really thank you.
  • What other things are available? There are always other things you can do, other folks to explore with and make connections.
  • Lack of sleep can be much more significant when the weather is hot. It takes 1-2 weeks to get fully acclimated to hot weather, so you may need to arrive quite a bit earlier if you need to do strenuous physical activities outdoors. Otherwise, finding air conditioning for part of the day and getting enough sleep should do the trick.
  • In tropical heat without air conditioning, a cold shower or dip in the pool once or twice a day helps you sleep better, and also helps you stay awake during the day. (Without air conditioning in tropical heat, after a few months, you may find you start naturally getting up at 4-5 AM, napping at noon, and going to sleep by 9 PM-- even if you are a night person.)

Important note[edit]

Reminding other people to actually go to bed sometimes also doesn't hurt.


  • Sleep makes you smarter, happier, make fewer errors, and make better decisions. If you need nine hours of sleep to have a good quality of life, go for it! Plus, you'll remember more of what happened if you were actually awake for it. Djembayz (talk) 02:55, 4 August 2015 (UTC)[reply]

See also[edit]

Related patterns[edit]

External links[edit]