"No Doz" pills and their ilk

I have to change myself to a night sleeping schedule – currently working 8am-5pm, now working 8pm-5am – for a week to help out at work. I’m changing to and from the schedule very quickly and I’m a bit concerned about being able to stay up. I’m worried about staying alert enough to do my job and be able to drive home.

Does anyone know if there are any risks (serious or minor) from taking caffeine pills? When would I ideally take them, in order to not interfere with sleeping when I get home? Are they habit forming at all?

(Any other suggestions on staying awake would be appreciated. I normally don’t respond at all to normal doses of caffeine, though I did take No Doz once for a college cram session, and it did work.)

Well, one problem with NoDoz is that when you try to stop taking them, you can get brutal headaches - caffeen is one of the worst habits to try to kick.

Can you try the new sleep schedule for a couple of days (over the weekend maybe?) before you actual start the new shifts to ease transition a bit, and then drink lots of water, and eat really light meals - it should help a bit with drowsiness.

There’s a drug called Provigil, normally used to treat narcolepsy, but it’s also been shown to keep people who aren’t narcoleptic from getting tired, and it’s been approved to treat “swing shift syndrome”. I don’t know if a week of changing schedules would qualify, but it’s something to ask your doctor about.

Here’s a chart comparing caffeine content of vaious pills, drinks, etc. As far as I know, caffeine is caffeine, regardless of where you get it from, and things like how well it works, how long it lasts, whether it’ll interfere with your sleep, and how addictive it is vary from person to person.

Caffeine is a mild diuretic, so it tends to dehydrate the user. The more you use, the greater that effect is.

You may remember a pro football (US) player named Brian Bosworth. He took huge amounts of caffeine before games in the belief that it made him quicker. Maybe it had that effect, but it also dehydrated him so much that he was plagued with muscle cramps throughout his career.

If you use caffiene pills, be sure to eat something with it. It can cause some rather severe stomach discomfort otherwise.

Yup, and the Boz is a great example. Most of the caffeine we get is in colas, teas, and coffees, each of which is of course largely water, ameliorating the diuretic effect.

So drink a big glass of water with your No-Doz, fd.

Start off by taking half a dose. A whole pill gives me serious jitters and destroys my ability to concentrate so I slice my pills in half. It’s just enough to keep me going all day. I don’t have any negative side effects either.

Having once consumed something like 6 No Doz and 6 bottles of coke over the course of a few hours, I feel qualified to confirm that caffeine pills can indeed cause severe stomach aches. I spent several hours rocking back and forth feeling like I was about to vomit but unable to. Ah, high school …

Wow, thanks for the heads up on the stomach issue and the dehydration. I’ll be prepared.

Taking a half dose sounds like a good idea. I am going to go buy some today, and try a dry run tonight. I haven’t been very successful with shifting my schedule later in the day, so some pick-me-up will be good. I know the last time, I had problems with concentration on caffeine pills, too. I’ll let you all know how it works out. Thanks!


I find they tend to make me jitterier, and don’t improve my concentration nearly as much as coffee does. I have a wacky theory that it’s because there’s other, similar alkaloids in coffee that act synergistically in some way to reduce the jitters - but it could easily be that it’s just absorbed too quickly into the bloodstream. Pharmokinetics is complicated.

Anyway, it may be just an urban myth in the caffeine addict community, but a lot of people say it makes them jittery and has less of a beneficial effect on concentration than coffee or tea. I’d consider just drinking a lot of the real thing.

Otherwise, just keep busy, it’s easier to push your sleep cycle forward (i.e. stay up late) than back. Take a brief walk or something when you get tired. And make sure not to have caffeine after, say, noon if you’re at all prone to being kept up by it. I wouldn’t have any after the end of the work-day no matter what. Its half-life is 6-8 hours in normal people (half that if you smoke, oddly enough) but that means small but possibly significant amounts will still be circulating hours after that.

My (possibly worthless) two cents:

You’ll get fewer side effects (upset stomach stuff) with energy drinks than just the pills, at least in my experience. Don’t know if it’s because you’ll have something else in your stomach or what.

You get none of the side effects with this, which is caffinated soap. It seems to work surpsingly well.

Generally keeping yourself awake: If your job allows frequent bathroom breaks, take advantage of it. Drink lots of water or whatever. It’s nearly impossible to feel drowsy with a very full bladder - I know I got myself through any number of all-nighters by slamming a can of Jolt, followed by a bottomless cup of decaf tea.