Monday, September 3, 2012

Falling asleep? Spray yourself

If you're like me, you like to start a movie as late as 11:30 sometimes.

If you're like me, you also fight powerful hard not to fall asleep during movies you start watching this late.

There are a number of ways to do it. Caffeine is the most obvious. And indeed, during last night's 11:30 viewing of Paddy Considine's Tyrannosaur, I drank a Mexican Coke (made with real sugar) to help in that regard.

But a drink is pretty finite. No matter how many stimulants it may contain, if you're truly tired, its benefits are limited to the time you actually spend tipping the bottle up to your mouth. And that gets at the idea that more than anything else, it's the act of being physically occupied in a task that distracts you from your need to sleep.

Enter food. As with caffeine, the idea of eating something that gives you a sugar rush -- something that will affect your body chemistry -- seems like the way to go. But really, what you're looking for is some kind of repetitive eating activity that will keep you busy. In that sense, something like peanuts is a real help, as long as you're eating them one at a time rather than in handfuls. Keep putting one peanut in your mouth, and there's no way you'll doze off.

Even still, repetitive eating also has its limitations. There comes a point where you realize you've eaten 132 peanuts and only 10 minutes of the movie have passed. And there's that pull of gravity on your eyelids again.

So why not a little shock to the system?

And here is where our spray bottle comes in quite handy.

Back when I used to iron, I wanted a way to dampen the garment that wasn't reliant on the deficient water functions of my iron. So I picked up an empty spray bottle at Target. It ended up being a handy thing to have around the house for a number of tasks -- especially when I pretty much permanently lost my patience for ironing and started buying only clothes that were some percentage polyester.

One use that presented itself: Cooling us down on a hot day.

That's right, you'd be surprised at how far you can go toward heat relief just by spraying yourself (or others) with the fine mist the emanates from a spray bottle filled with water.

It's been a damn hot summer, and we've had the spray bottle out regularly. As that water on your face starts to evaporate, it both cools and refreshes.

But the initial burst is always something of a shock. Even if you're desperate for the relief and you know it will feel good, you close your eyes and brace for that blast of water in the moments immediately before it's unleashed. 

A shock like this is the perfect thing to "reset" yourself if you're on the verge of failing to outlast your movie. You open your eyes wider for a moment, blinking, as your various synapses take in this new stimulant. If I understood the chemistry of the human body a little better, I might be able to describe this phenomenon in better detail.

I do know that it helped me last night as the clock was heading past 1, and I still had the final 10-15 minutes of Tyrannosaur to watch. Not only did the spray bottle keep those last 15 minutes from being an effort, it also left me feeling quite refreshed.

Just a little trick for you to try, you delusional night-owl movie watcher you.

As for Tyrannosaur, it's not a particular great example for a post about falling asleep during a movie. It's pretty engaging stuff, if only to see what horror is going to unfold for these characters next. It's shot beautifully and it's got great performances by Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman and Eddie Marsan, but the circumstances I'd avoid when watching it are not being too tired. I'd avoid watching it when you're too depressed, because it'll only sink you deeper into that hole.

But if you like a tough story with a good grasp of fascinating cinematic tools, Tyrannosaur may be for you.

And you'll be glad when watching it that unlike those characters, getting sleepy is the worst problem you're dealing with at the moment.

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