Deliberately staying awake for the best part of four and a half days is not the sort of venture one undertakes lightly. Prolonged periods of sleep deprivation can do serious damage, both physically and mentally, so being as prepared as possible was going to be critical.
The first step was to ensure absolute clarity of purpose: to focus not only on exactly what I was doing but, more importantly, why I was doing it. This was the easy part. The second step involved the immediate cessation of everything I’d enjoyed in my previous existence as an archetypal international DJ: no more junk food, no more booze, no more cigarettes, and no more recreational drugs. In other words, a total lifestyle overhaul.
But that was just the beginning. Once my body had had a chance to detoxify – a long and painful process that involved drinking inordinate amounts of freshly prepared fruit and vegetable juices (including freshly squeezed lemon juice each morning) and every day eating porridge (which I happen to hate with a passion) – it was time to join the gym and really get myself in shape.
To prepare for extended periods of sleep deprivation, you don't condition yourself against sleep as many people think. Instead, you strengthen your body and in doing so increase your ability to cope with the effects fatigue has on the body.
What began as a relatively challenging workout rapidly intensified until it was tantamount to medieval torture. After a couple of months, I was racking out some of the machines in the gym. My training programme, designed specifically to boost core strength and stamina, was drawn up by Ben Cook at Hunts Fitness Club of Fitzroy, the staff of which have done a magnificent job of keeping me motivated.
As if this wasn’t punishment enough, I also signed up for kickboxing training, courtesy of former world champion Sallie McArdle, and started playing football with the Big Issue Homeless Football team.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve sustained my fair share of injuries since my mission began – and will be forever indebted to Anthony “The Hulk” Birrel for regular remedial massages and also Dr Brett Rawlings for his deft application of acupuncture.
Equally invaluable have been the dietary supplements and advice from Jo Grabyn of Vitamine Me, who’s been helping me since before my physical training kicked off in late 2005.