For dedicated hockey fans, there couldn't be a more inopportune time for the World Junior Championships to be hosted by a country with such a significant time difference as North America.
Ufa, Russia, where the tournament is being held this year, is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. So even if your country happens to be playing in primetime over in good ol' Mother Russia, it's still 9 a.m. on the East Coast. If not? You may be looking at a 3:30 a.m. start time locally.
Now, in any year, the World Juniors is a big deal to many hockey fans. But this year? Of all years? This is all we have. As the lockout drags on into the New Year, we've found ourselves starving for hockey. Desperate to feed our ruthless withdrawal of the game we hold near and dear to our hearts. And so the odd hours in which this tournament is played this year merely twists the dagger dislodged in our hearts.
And let's not forget the poor men and women who've got the unenviable task of writing about hockey for a living. Those unfortunate souls aren't in it for the love of the game as much as they are for feeding their damn families. When will the madness end, for crying out loud?
Some of us--the stupid brave few of us who are willing to disrupt our daily routines in the name of fanatical dedication and/or professionalism--need all the help we can get. And so, I've compiled a list of five ways to retain some sense of normalcy in combatting a sadistic case of self-inflicted sleep deprivation:
- Energy supplements - That's right. Load up folks. A healthy diet can only go so far, and that's why you've got to pile on as many 5-Hour Energy shots, protein bars, Monster drinks and Gatorades as humanly possible. THS would never condone the use of illegal stimulants (at least publicly) so just cram as many of these in your body at the same time as you can.
If you break into a cold sweat while watching your team play, chalk it up to the nerves that come with living vicariously through the world's best 19-year-olds as they battle it out for frozen xenophobic supremacy.
- Try polyphasic sleep - Poly-what? Well let me put it to you like this: instead of sleeping for one extended period of time, you nap for very finite periods multiple times a day. The catch? You stay rested, and save a whole lot of time! It worked for Leonardo da Vinci, how do you think he found all that time to write that damn code Tom Hanks wouldn't shut up about in that movie?
I can tell you think I'm crazy. Well what if I told you there was a modern-day precedent for this sort of practice? Would you believe me then? I sure hope so:
- Sleep at work -Disclaimer: hockey writers may encounter a conflict between their ability to deliver on the reason they're disrupting the daily routine of everyone in their path in the first place. So uh, you guys ignore this one.
Everyone's done it before. Hell, remember the Stanley Cup Playoffs from last year, when your team went to overtime and you decided to stay at the bar rather than go home and set your alarm? And then when they lost, when you stayed for five more beers to drown your sorrows? It's kind of like that. If you're dedicated enough, you'll figure out a way to file your TPS reports with your eyes closed. And if your boss catches you and tells you this is the last straw for your double-secret probation, just take it out on the printer.
- Call in sick - If you're not confident in your ability to make it look like you're working while you catch up on some much-needed rest, then play it safe. Use a sick day. Out of sick days? Call in and pretend to be your boss' sister and tell him or her that something terrible happened to a member of their family and they need to leave right away. If your boss isn't in the office, they're not going to give you any crap for not being there either, right?
- Turn on basketball - Okay, now we're really getting into the "break glass in case of emergency" section. It's 2012. Everyone and their mother has a DVR by now. In the normal primetime hours of the night, while you're watching something of substance, record one of the countless, eye-gougingly boring basketball games on any number of networks. It could be college or professional, it doesn't matter.
Once you've got a nice pocket of time before the early-morning scheduled puck drop, flip to the game you've recorded, but be sure to have a pillow nearby. You'll be out like a light before the first media timeout. But if you're resorting to this, make sure to set multiple alarms. Basketball has been known to put people in a very deep sleep.
There you have it, five ways to help you survive the 2013 World Junior Championships. Now, there is a decent-sized contingent of hockey fans who pay painstakingly close attention to this tournament each and every year. But for those of us who focus more on the professional ranks instead of enjoying the stars of tomorrow today, I pose a question to you:
What are your plans for February, 2014? Anything ringing a bell? Perhaps you might be interested in a certain international hockey tournament that starts with an "O" and ends with "-Lympics?"
The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia, two time zones away from Ufa. That's a nine-hour time difference. So consider this your very own warmup round.
Like anything else, finding what method works for you is a matter of trial and error. So mix and match at your leisure, and be sure to tell us your results at @The_Scratches on Twitter or on our Facebook page. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm scheduled for a 20-minute nap before I pop in another 5-Hour Energy shot.