Well sorry for dropping off the face of the earth the last week. I was on-call for my job, which means I'm the company I.T. bitch for the week. Not only are there lots of additional work that must be done during the week, you are constantly paged with every conceivable issue that you got to fix. This, of course, happens all night as well.
So what happens when you don't get regular sleep for a week? I am a bit of an extreme example of these affects, as I really, really need to get 6-7 hours a night. Some do fine with 5-6 hours of sleep a night, but there are long term effects for burning the candle at both ends.
Everyone can go one night without sleep. You'll be a little dazed, and operating at about 80-90% of what you'd be if you were fully rested. If your getting 3-4 hours of interrupted sleep a night, after 5 days your about 50% effective. In my job as an IT guy, it's really easy to type the wrong command and delete data by accident. The only way to deal with this is to go SLOW and check everything twice.
Now if the poop hits the fan, well then we are all going to be low on sleep, especially the first few weeks. In order to work around these issues, you need to plan ahead.
I would make the big decisions early, like bug-in or bug-out, and stick to them unless new information causes you to re-evaluate. If you do have to re-evaluate, take the time to think it through. After a week of interrupted sleep it's like trying to pour molasses through a funnel, your brain will get there, but it will take a while. Use a piece of paper to organize your thoughts as they will tend to wander while in your mental fog.
Naps are you best friend. I cannot nap, once the sun is up I am awake until the sun sets. The only way I can sleep during the day is if I am deathly ill, or I took sleeping pills and washed it down with half a bottle of NyQuil. then i crash for 18 hours or so :p. Now a 20 minute afternoon cat-nap will work wonders for you. Your body gets most of it's rest in the first 20 minutes of sleep, so the physical toll of sleep deprivation can be easily avoided.
Now if you need to stay up for a long time this is the way to do it. Well without picking up a Meth habit... Avoid sugars! They crash your system with an insulin spike, and your certainly going to crash hard and burn. You need fuel that will keep you going but provided short-term energy. I suggest oatmeal, but not the instant kind. You want the read-deal 30minutes to cook stuff. take tons of B vitamins as well with your oatmeal. You can have sugar, but you need to make your body work for the energy a bit, so your not spiking your insulin levels. Fruit is ok, but the really sweet stuff like pineapple is not good for this.
What crashes you are the really digestible processed carbohydrates. White rice, potatoes, white bread (even the wimpy wheats, or rye), pastas, and enemy #1 HFCS High Fructose Corn Syrup. Canned fruit is terrible because of all the syrup, this will crash you about an hour after you eat it as your pancreas explodes...
Those 5 hour energy drinks are pretty good for you, all they are are an TON of b-vitamins. Chug one of these with some oatmeal and your good to go. A fresh apple is good, and all berries are low on the GI scale, so the sugars are not going to spike your insulin. I would have something fatty with the oatmeal to keep things in balance, like buttered real-wheat bread, or peanut butter.
Moving around will help you stay alert, and help you from just burning the carbs in the oatmeal into fats. Also, it is better to have a few small meals than to have one huge one.
Notice I haven't spouted off about caffeine? I have some for breakfast and some during lunch, but these days I don't drink any at night so I get a better quality sleep. If you are addicted to caffeine, I strongly suggest you cut back, you will be amazed at how much better your sleep will be and how much lower your blood pressure will be.
When your ready to pull your all-nighter a diet red bull, or diet monster energy drink with the correct food will keep you going for a long time. Don't buy the sugared ones, they will crash you. They really are just carbonated caffeine, and unlike my old favorite Jolt Cola, they don't have that much more caffeine than coffee.
Well hopefully this helps you with your turn at guard duty watching out for those mutant zombies.