If you go to a lot of conferences or conventions, you'll be familiar with the sensation of struggling to stay awake in lecture/workshop sessions. Even if you find the material interesting, the sheer sleep deprivation of a multi-day conference can have you nodding off throughout something you'd normally want to pay attention to.
Magic conventions are particularly tough in this regard, from a three-day run like IMX Vegas all the way up to the epic six-day FISMs. They frequently start as early as 9am each day, run all the way through to an evening gala show, followed by sessioning late into the small hours of the morning. Even if you try to go the power-nap route and get some small sleeps throughout the day, it's hard to fight the temptation to exhaust yourself on everything available and end up nodding off during a session you'd otherwise enjoy.
Even though it doesn't fix the underlying sleep debt, there is something I've found that works wonders to keep you awake when needed. Specifically, carry a small water spray bottle with you.
Yes, one of those. It doesn't sound like much, but there are few wake-up triggers more powerful than a spray of cold water to the face. Self-administered when you feel like you're dozing off, it's even more powerful and effective than any other (legal) wake-up solution I've ever encountered. It takes up almost no space, is easily refillable, and has frequently been the single thing that managed to keep me awake during an important presentation I wanted to watch.
This was originally suggested to me by good friend and London magician Noel Qualter, way back before the six-day saga that was FISM 2003, and is something I've been using and shamelessly evangelising ever since.
The spray I carry now is one of these from Muji, but you'll be able to find something similar at plenty of travel/camping/homewares stores around the world. If you're heading to a multi-day conference any time soon, get one and let me know if it makes a difference.
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