Posts tagged: sleep disturbances

How To Manage Sleep Deprivation In A Survival Scenario

Effects Of Sleep Deprivationimage © Dmitry –

During any type of prolonged SHTF event, sleep is highly likely to suffer. Count on it. But can we learn to deal with it?

A worn out look, red eyes, black circles, staring into space, disorientation, headaches, stumbling, uncontrolled shaking, thirst, irrational thinking, problematic problem solving, and Zombie-like appearance and behavior. You’re alive, but “walking dead.”  Sleep deprivation can definitely have a serious impact on your SHTF event behavior and performance, so plan for it happening at some point.

Visualizing Sleep Deprivation


It is amazing the reality topics one can glean from watching select television programming. In today’s media driven television market there

is just enough research conducted to make much of the plot seem as realistic and plausible as possible. I found this true when watching the Easter weekend marathon of Walking Dead on AMC. After a while of watching several episodes, I began to notice the slow but sure decline in the acuity of the main character Rick Grimes, the sheriff’s deputy that assumed the role as the Bug-Out group’s leader. Rick was obviously suffering from sleep deprivation. Its signs were plain. To watch this transformation coming on, one has to know the program writers knew they were introducing the behavior of sleep deprivation.

The other clue was that the “doc” veterinarian in the prison “Bug-Out” camp kept counseling Rick that he needed rest. Rick ignored the advice as he continued his decline in function from one chapter to the next. On several occasions he nearly collapsed. It became wildly evident to me that this lack of rest/sleep thing was a realistic phenomenon that needed some consideration of thought. So, here are my thoughts.

You won’t know it, when you got it


According to the most basic definition of sleep deprivation from Wikipedia, “it is the condition of not having enoughsleep.

Ok, we probably got that one right on the multiple choice test questions. “A chronic sleep restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness, and weight loss or gain. It adversely affects the brain and cognitive function.” Sleep deprivation over long periods of time can cause diabetes, effects on the brain, effects on growth, impacts on the healing process, loss of attention and functional memory, over all decline of general abilities, and many other maladies.

It is not a simple condition that can be ignored, especially for preppers and others caught up in a survival scenario. The worst part of having this condition is the fact that once you have it, it may already be too late to recognize you have it. It’s like boiling a frog in water by slowly raising the temperature of the water. The frog never notices the changes until its dead, and rarely does a person in the throws of sleep deprivation.

Rationale for Group Bug-Out Partnerships

All of you died-in-the-wool preppers have long ago debated the pros and cons of either going it alone or with a limited number of close family members or a much bigger, but perhaps still manageable sized group. Obviously going totally solo is the toughest route, and frankly I personally think the most impractical. Few people if any have all the collective skills and knowledge needed to survive a SHTF by themselves.

In a group Bug-In or Out the “team” can learn to rely on each other. There is an immediate system of checks and balances for everything from gathering/preparing food, doing security work, area maintenance, health checks, and everything else. One of the high level advantages to working within a group is that each person can monitor how each other person is doing. This is critical when it comes to members that are on medications, or have pre-existing conditions. It is particularly helpful for everyone to watch each others behavior in potential cases of depression, paranoia, fear, shock, and conditions like sleep deprivation. This group partnership also pays huge dividends when it comes to everyday accidents, minor or serious.

If the onset of any of these is caught early enough, then accommodations among the group can be made to deal with them to a positive conclusion. In this treatise we focus on sleep deprivation which if working solo could evolve without much notice, and then it’s too late. In a group each can easily see signs that the lack of dedicated sleep is impacting a person’s performance and behavior.

Catnaps, Mini-sleeps, Dozing, and Rim Sleep


Eventually you will sleep. But the primary question is do you want to maintain the control of the how, when,

and where or have the lack of sleep inadvertently control you? The best strategy is to plan for sleep just like any other necessity of maintaining all other daily activities within a Bug-Out or Bug-In set up.

All people sleep at different times and flexible rates with varying intensities. In a normal daily routine many of us work eight hours a day, and sleep eight hours a night. But then these days such a schedule seems far more rare than standard. There are many
work/rest schedules for a lot of people that certainly don’t fall within the realm of eight hour set periods.

Lots of people work shift work, odd schedules, weekends, and nights. They find sleep when they can, however poor the quality. One way or the other we all have some sort or manner of a routine. During a SHTF episode that routine is going to be totally disrupted and often turned completely upside down or inside out. Many of us will have to relearn how to grab some shut eye any way we can. Some should be better than none.

College kids it seems can sleep until noon or after on a weekend. Most adults find sleep more illusive as age gains on them. Physical labor, stress, health conditions, mere comfort and age can factor into the amount of sleep somebody needs to function. At 62 and still working full time I find a noon time nap at work is helpful to keeping my mind sharp for the second half of the work day. When I get home around 5 pm, I find a 15-30 minute catnap really revives me before I fix the family dinner. I hit the sack for earnest rest around 11:00. Now that I use a Sleep Apnea machine, I find I obtain a deeper, more effective rim sleep, though it is short-lived. However, will I be able to use that air pump during a SHTF event?  It’s doubtful without electrical support.

So, during a SHTF develop as fixed a schedule as you can. Work toward trading off duties with others so that everybody can find time to sleep. You may not be able to lie down on a mattress bed for several hours. A good recliner or a soft spot out in the woods can work, too. In this regard the comfort factor must be addressed. Nobody sleeps well on a rock, standing up in a corner, or across the hood of a car.

As you compile your supplies for a Bug-Out in particular since the comforts of home will no longer be available for the most part, do plan for high quality options in a sleeping bag, portable pad, and some sort of pillow. Same for a Bug-In make plans to sleep however short lived. Catching a few catnaps or dozing for a short time will help if prolonged sleep is not possible. Find a soft, quiet place and take full advantage of every opportunity to sleep despite how minor. Otherwise sleep deprivation will creep in and take control over you. Avoid that at all costs.

Obviously this is just a cursory thumbnail sketch of the issues related to sleep deprivation and how it can impact preppers. It is just one more concern to address in your prepping plans. Without sleep at some level, you cannot perform at your peak and sooner or later it will produce a negative impact. At the same time monitor all your team members to make sure they get some required rest, too. Outlasting a SHTF is going to be tough enough as it is. Just don’t end up dead, because you were dead tired.

By Dr. John J. Woods –

Photos by:
The Walking Dead

Prepare Your Mind For The Coming Crisis – Part 10: How To Explain Disasters And Crises To Children

Childrenphoto source:

Last time, we started talking about helping children deal with a disaster or a crisis (whether they were directly involved or just saw it happening, even on TV).The article was dedicated to understanding the way a child perceives such an event, according to his or her age.

Today, we’ll talk about how you can identify post-traumatic stress disorder in your kids and what you can do to help them overcome this difficult time.

First, let’s see the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the FEMA website:

Refusal to return to school andclinging” behavior, including shadowing the mother or father around the house

Persistent fears related to the catastrophe (such as fears about being permanently separated from parents)

Sleep disturbances such as nightmares, screaming during sleep and bedwetting, persisting more than several days after the event

Loss of concentration and irritability

Jumpiness or being startled easily

Behavior problems, for example, misbehaving in school or at home in ways that are not typical for the child

Physical complaints(stomachaches, headaches, dizziness) for which a physical cause cannot be found

Withdrawal from family and friends, sadness, listlessness, decreased activity, and preoccupation with the events of the disaster

Keep a close eye on your kids and notice any strange behaviour, even when they’re alone, playing. If they present any of the symptoms above, give them all your support and love, talk to them about their feelings and even look for specialized help. This kind of experiences might traumatize kids for life if the problems stay unsolved.

But even if your children seem fine, you should still take the following measures during and after a disaster or crisis:

According to Divine Caroline (a blog I discovered while looking for some info onthe Haitian earthquake), here’s what you need to do:

“Focus On The Positive”

This doesn’t mean you should paint this rosy-pink picture about disasters. But when a child is face to face with let’s say an earthquake that shattered an entire city and killed millions, their whole world goes upside-down. And they will most likely suffer a great shock.

And a good way to keep the shock to a minimum is to focus on the positive: how lucky they are they’re alive and well, how great it is to be with your family and have your loved ones around.

If they just see the disaster on TV, talk about how organizations are raising money for the victims, how people help their neighbors or even drive from miles away to bring clothes, food, and water and help them rebuild their homes.

This way, they’ll feel better knowing there’s always someone there to help them, even people they’ve never met. And it’s also a great way of teaching your child to help others in need, too. Which brings me to the next step:

“Get Them Involved In The Relief Efforts”

You don’t have to pay hundreds to charity organizations to help families in need. If you can and you want to do so, then let your kids participate. Let them send the money or at least watch you sending it. Tell them how the money will help people in need.

If you can’t afford to donate money, you can send clothes you don’t need, blankets and even canned food. Tell your kids to choose a few of their things they’d like to donate to children in need: clothes, toys, shoes, whatever they don’t wear anymore or they’re willing to give away. Explain to them what happened to those children and how donations will make them feel better.

“Encourage Them To Ask Questions”

Let your children ask as many questions they want. This way, they’ll express their fears and doubts and you’ll find out what’s going on in those little heads of theirs. When answering their questions, make sure you:

Use words and concepts your child can understand. Make your explanation appropriate to your child’s age and level of understanding. Don’t overload a child with too much information.

Give children honest answers and information. Children will usually know if you’re not being honest.

Be prepared to repeat explanations or have several conversations. Some information may be hard to accept or understand. Asking the same question over and over may be your child’s way of asking for reassurance.

Acknowledge and support your child’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Let your child know that you think their questions and concerns are important.

Be consistent and reassuring, but don’t make unrealistic promises.

Avoid stereotyping groups of people by race, nationality, or religion. Use the opportunity to teach tolerance and explain prejudice.

Remember that children learn from watching their parents and teachers. They are very interested in how you respond to events. They learn from listening to your conversations with other adults.

Let children know how you are feeling. It’s OK for them to know if you are anxious or worried about events. However, don’t burden them with your concerns.

Don’t confront your child’s way of handling events. If a child feels reassured by saying that things are happening very far away, it’s usually best not to disagree. The child may need to think about events this way to feel safe. (

Now here are a couple more techniques you can use to comfort your kids. I got these from, I find them very useful:

“Try to keep your emotions stable as you talk with your child”

Don’t let your kids see how upset, afraid or disoriented you are. Tell them how you feel, but don’t break down and cry for hours, because that will make your kids break down as well. Especially when they don’t understand why you’re having these feelings. So no matter how strong your feelings are, be patient enough to answer your children’s questions and ask them how they feel. Always be connected with their minds.

Also, if it helps calm you down, say a prayer together with your kids. Sometimes, it all it takes.

“Take them out of the house and enjoy being out

This is ok only if the area you live in is safe. Getting out of the house helps you disconnect from the negative feelings and reconnect with your family. Don’t feel guilty for having fun. Life has to go on and you need to keep your family happy.

“Turn off the television”

From time to time, turn off the TV. Even if you don’t go out, just play with your kids, cook something yummy or just talk to your loved ones about anything else but the disaster. Relax and try to have a good time.

These moments are crucial because they keep you away from depression and they reassure your kids that life will be good again.

You can find more practical information on how to overcome any crisis or disaster on

By Anne Sunday