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On Sleeping on Planes

In that strange unpredictable mix of physiological traits that our genes produce for everyone there are positives and negatives. In my case my hair resolutely refuses to do the usual ageing thing and go grey or white. Instead it sends out tiny silver threads every now and again so in certain lighting it looks as though I have very subtle highlights. Saved me a fortune in hairdresser bills. That’s a positive. On the other hand, I need only to look at a croissant or a pizza and I can feel myself expanding like the Pillsbury doughboy (oops-dough girl). That’s a negative. I have a sense of smell that can recognise one molecule in a billion. That’s a mixed blessing - particularly in an elevator full of wet dog. Or an airplane cabin!

But one of the positive traits for which I am most grateful is my ability to fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow. Sometimes even before. When I replaced my twenty year old bed recently I did some solid research before buying my new mattress. Right now I bet I could jump off a ten story building onto my new 18 inch mattress and just bounce right up without a scratch. The man who came to fix a damaged fixture in my bathroom looked approvingly at my new furniture

. “Eetsa awfully beeg bed you got der, madame”, he said.

I said in all seriousness “When I go to bed at night I fall asleep so quickly I sometimes fall asleep standing next to the bed so I need a big bed to make sure I don’t miss it and land on the floor”.

We looked at each other for a moment before we both burst out laughing.

But while I might have been exaggerating about falling asleep on my feet, I really am lucky that I fall asleep within minutes and sleep like a baby till the alarm tells me it is time to go to the gym. In fact I don’t need a therapist to tell me when I am stressed because on the rare occasions when I wake up at night or have any problem falling asleep I know its time for a check on what is playing havoc with my mind.

So why am I sitting bolt upright in this darkened cabin, surrounded by a cacophony of snores, grunts, coughs and other sounds that I prefer not to mention but which make me wish I was not blessed with that wonderful sense of smell? Everyone else is sleeping or at least making a very convincing show of it. But I have never been able to sleep on a plane.

I have a friend who taught himself self-hypnosis. He settles in his seat, puts his head back, closes his eyes and that’s it. He is asleep before the plane leaves the ground. Which is lucky because he travels a lot.

But nothing I have tried works for me so here I sit, thinking about recycled air and hoping that none of those little vicious viruses that lurk in airplane air will land in my vicinity.

Oh “to sleep, perforce to dream”. Where is Puck when I need him?