It’s almost here. You’ve spent the last several days promoting, creating an account on a charitable website, setting up your donation tracker, organizing your game list, and completing countless other small tasks leading up to this, and you can’t wait to click that “Start Streaming” button to begin your 24-hour stream!
In the midst of all of this chaos, it’s easy to forget to plan and prepare for one of the most important aspects of a streaming marathon. There will be articles in the future devoted to helping streamers accomplish these tasks, however this article will focus on arguably the most important aspect of a 24-hour stream: staying awake!
At this point, you may be skeptical and saying to yourself “heck, I’ve stayed awake for 24 hours before, this should be a cake walk”. Be forewarned, dear reader: Staying awake for 24 hours is one thing, but attempting to entertain viewers for the entire duration of that time frame is a completely separate animal. Therefore, it is extremely important that marathon streamers take steps to help maintain wakefulness, alertness and performance, which will make the overall experience better for both the streamer and the viewers.
Timing and Sleep
Being awake for 24 hours is a major shock to the system, and you will accrue quite a bit of sleep debt during your streaming marathon. In order to reduce the amount of recovery time resulting from your 24 hour stream, how you prepare in the days leading up to your stream is paramount.
During the week leading up to the marathon, if possible, try to get an extra hour or two of sleep per night. At a minimum, make sure you get a FULL night of sleep the day before your stream. Ensuring you are well rested prior to the event will be a huge help during those last five or six hours.
Additionally, marathon streamers should make sure everything is set up and ready to go the night before – the goal is to roll out of bed and start streaming almost immediately. You are already damaging your body enough by streaming for 24 hours, there is no need to spend an extra two or three hours beforehand setting up and turning a 24-hour day into a 27-hour day. So take the time the day before to ensure that the fridge is stocked with food and water, the rig is set up and ready to go, all games are updated, bots and chat rooms are tested and running, and anything else that you can think of.
Speaking of food and water, planning your meals in advance is another way to make the streaming marathon as painless as possible. Plan for three medium-sized, healthy meals with plenty of protein and vegetables. Carbs are fine, just don’t overdo them as they can make you sleepy if you have too much. In addition, make sure you have anywhere from three to six small snacks lined up. Don’t go too crazy on these – an apple, a cup of nuts, etc – these will be good enough to keep your energy up without. Avoid fatty & sugary snacks – they provide no benefits with regards to keeping your energy levels up.
As far as liquids go, keep yourself hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water. You should avoid drinks heavy in caffeine (coffee/soda) and sugar (Gatorade). They are good for short bursts of energy, but the subsequent crash is twice as powerful as the temporary boost you get – this is a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, if you are able to drink only water for the entire day, do it and avoid any possibility of a caffeine/sugar crash entirely. If you are an avid coffee drinker and simply can’t go a day without it, it’s okay to have a cup in the morning to stave off the headache, and then switch to water after that.
During the Stream
In addition to how you fuel your body, keeping it active throughout the stream is a good way to stay awake, maintain focus, and keep yourself performing at your best. Every hour, you should be taking a quick break to get the blood flowing. Stretch, do some calisthenics, or taking a quick jog around the block are just a few easy things you can do to ensure your mind & body are focused throughout the day. If you have a desk that can convert from standing to sitting, A) Congratulations: that is awesome, and B) be sure to alternate standing & sitting every other hour. Taking these quick breaks also allows you to rest your eyes, which is important when you’re going to be looking at the same object at the same distance for almost 24 hours straight.
As the stream continues, your health should be your number one concern – neither you nor your viewers want you to damage your health as a result of streaming for 24 hours straight. Therefore, if at any point you find yourself nodding off at the desk or have any other reason to be concerned about your health, do not be afraid to pull the plug early on the stream. Attempting a streaming marathon is an admirable venture, doubly so if you are doing it for charity – it is not the worst thing in the world if it has to end early.
Last and most important tip: HAVE FUN! You’re playing video games for 24 hours straight, and broadcasting it to the rest of the world – make sure you enjoy yourself while you do it!