Sleep deprivation

November 9 2007

The journey home from Oz is a long one, made better by Qantas's business class accomodations and catching an earlier flight to Chicago (way way in the back, but ok).  Still, I didn't sleep as much as I'd have liked to.  Qantas sat me in one of those "mini cabins" with just two rows of seats.  Normally preferred by frequent fliers, the theory that fewer people makes it quieter falls apart when the seats in front of you are a family with an eight-week-old and a four-year-old.  Now, I'm a sympathetic parent, but daddy's discipline when the child cries out at the top of their lungs for 15 minutes needs to be something more than "I'm going to count to three".

This flight also featured the weird experience of receiving the wrong breakfast.  Qantas has a great biz class breakfast service whereby you fill out your order when you first get on-board, on a form similar to a hotel's room service door hanger.  Thus you get what you want and only what you want.  So the flight attendant brings me a tray that is clearly not what I ordered.  When I tell him this, he says, "you're right, I'm not bringing you the hot food until you eat all your Müseli!"  Which, of course, I didn't order in the first place.  I half expected his next comment to be "who's your daddy?" which is not really what one expects on an international flight.

Anyway, part of the reason I wanted more sleep is that I never quite caught up this week, even the night I fell asleep at 7 PM.  While still in Japan, though, I was thinking about sleep a lot.  One of the things I've noticed on my many visits there is how many Japanese take a little snooze while riding the train or subway.  They tuck their chin down, close their eyes, and doze off.  I asked one of my colleagues last week about this, and he said they do genuinely sleep, not just rest.  I asked him two questions: 1) why?  to which he answered, basically, "because we can, and it is safe" and 2) how do you know when to wake up?  His answer -- you just do.  Somehow, he said, he always seems to wake up right as his eki  is announced.

So, on my day out to Kamakura, I decided to test this theory.  I had to take the Yurikamone train from my hotel to Shimbashi, the end of the line.  I was up pretty early on Saturday, as a colleague and I went to the Tsukiji market to have sushi at 6 AM (does this surprise anyone? -- it's even recommended in the American Way in-flight magazine this month).  So, as the train made its way across the Rainbow Bridge, I was feeling pretty tired, and I decided to let myself fall asleep, figuring worst case I'd just end up back at the hotel or whatever.

Somehow, I woke up just exactly as the doors opened at Shimbashi.

I think I'm turning Japanese.

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