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All the stuff that goes through your mind when you cannot sleep
24 hours on planes + no sleep = all the thoughts.
An audio version of this post is available here:
I’m going to die from lack of sleep. Can you die from lack of sleep? I should know the answer to that because I’ve written a book about sleep. At least I think I did. But why can’t I remember anything useful from it right now?
What if I imagined writing it? What if I imagined my entire life? What if all of this is some Matrix-style parallel existence? Hang on, isn’t that what the red pill/blue pill misogynists and incels believe? Why am I thinking about them, FFS? That’s definitely not going to help me get to sleep. You know what would? A book about sleep. Lol.
Actually it wouldn’t, because these are bizarre and extreme circumstances: I’m on a plane surrounded by strangers, half-way through a 34-hour journey back from the other side of the world. Besides, I’m pretty sure it’s very rare to die from lack of sleep, even though I feel like I might. Which would be ironic, of course, considering my book. That would make a good story: Author of sleep book dies from lack of sleep.
That’s if I don’t get strangled by these shitty aeroplane headphones first though. Between them, the seatbelt, the blanket, my jacket that I don’t know what to do with, and my neck-brace pillow thing, I am trussed up like a chicken.
What does that mean: trussed up like a chicken? Is that an actual saying or have I just made it up? Is ‘trussed up’ only ever used in relation to chickens?
The worst thing about not sleeping is being close to other people who are sleeping. Sleeping like they have no cares in the world. Zero fucks to give. Whether it’s your partner next to you in bed, or 300-odd strangers squeezed onto a plane. Look at them, blissfully dreaming, bodies contorted into fantastical shapes in these torturous economy-seat chairs.
I hate them.
I bet the business class people are asleep too. Sleep is probably guaranteed as part of the ticket price. I’d pay for that. I should have paid for that. Why didn’t I? Why don’t I value sleep highly enough? What is wrong with me? Oh, shit – I shouldn’t have asked that. Here it comes: the credits reel of every embarrassing and shameful thing I’ve ever done.
Hey there! Do you remember that time you left that awful voice note? My God – you’re such a tool.
Yes, I do. But stop this, please. I just want to sleep.
Oh no – we didn’t mean that voice note. We meant the other one.
Stop humming. You can’t block out these memories.
I just want to sleep.
You don’t deserve sleep. You deserve to overthink every mortifying thing you’ve ever done or might do.
My back hurts. I should do Pilates more often. Why don’t I? Why don’t I look after myself better? OK. I solemnly vow that if I ever do get to sleep, I will never take my body for granted again.
How many hours of this flight are left? Ah, one million hours. Surely that’s enough time for me to drop off? I need the toilet, but can’t find my shoes. I’m not going to be one of those gross people who go to an aeroplane toilet in their socked feet. But better than bare feet, I suppose.
Sigh. OK, I’ll go. But ugh. Everything’s such an effort.
And now turbulence. Brilliant. I shouldn’t have googled ‘turbulence’ during our six-hour layover in Singapore. That was a mistake. I wanted to read that reassuring fact again about how turbulence has never brought down a plane (or perhaps only ever once). I did find that – and it’s still true – but I also found articles on how two planes recently experienced some of the worst turbulence in decades. Turbulence severe enough to cause serious injuries and even death. I googled a worst-nightmare scenario before embarking on said scenario. Akin to googling ‘worst spider situations’ before visiting the arachnid section of a zoo.
If I were asleep now, I wouldn’t care about the turbulence. Those snoring around me don’t know it’s happening. I’m the only witness. Should I video it then, just in case something goes wrong, for evidence? Or will videoing it make something go wrong?
No. That’s magical thinking. But I do believe in magic, so…
A child has started laughing. For some reason, that’s more annoying than if they were crying. What’s funny, kid? I’ll tell you what’s not funny: not sleeping during turbulence on a never-ending flight. And now the seatbelt sign has come on. Shall I ask the flight attendants if this turbulence is normal? Do they look scared? That’s the barometer we all use, right – whether they’re freaking out? That attendant is definitely not. She looks super chill. So I should also be chill.
Wait – did the engine just cut out? OH MY GOD, THE ENGINE JUST CUT OUT.
Hahaha. No it didn’t. Plonker. What am I like? What’s wrong with me? Oh yeah, lack of sleep. I’ll be better once I’ve had some sleep. Oh God, please just let me sleep.
Just one more thing…
I’m writing this on my notes app on my phone while in the air. If I get home and get enough sleep to post this, I want to apologise for two things: 1) The lack of newsletter last week. I overestimated my ability to post while travelling around New Zealand. 2) The fact that this post will reach you on Tuesday rather than Monday. Normal Monday service will resume next week.
If I get some sleep…