Why a decent Sunday nights sleep is a hard thing to find for the business traveller
16.12.2007 - 17.12.2007 -10 °C
Since early November, I have been taking the very first flight leaving Toronto, a 6:05 am flight to Houston, Texas. Interestingly, no plane is allowed to take off from Toronto's Lester B. Pearson airport before 6:30 am, but Continental is so excited about getting me down to Texas as early as possible, they load up the plane 25 minutes early, giving them time to get de-iced and head out to the runway to be sure they are right there, at the edge of the runway, ready to go when the minute hand reaches the bottom of the clock.
This week, instead of travelling down to Houston for the usual Monday through Thursday work schedule, I’m doing two days in Norfolk, Virginia then heading down to Houston for a couple days before heading home for the last time this year. As my flight to Norfolk was leaving Toronto on Monday afternoon, I actually got to sleep in on Monday morning!
Now, I should explain what I mean by sleeping in, because I actually got up this morning at 8:00 am. But usually on Monday mornings, I am turning off the alarm at 4:00am, before grabbing a quick shower and heading out of my apartment and into the awaiting cold taxi for the ride to the airport.
And unlike most Monday mornings, I was actually woken by my alarm clock this morning, even though it went off a full 4 hours later than it usually would. On the nights before I have those 6:05 am flights to catch, I never really sleep all that well. There is this nagging fear that grips me all night that I am going to sleep through my alarm and miss my flight, and so I never really am able to fall asleep. Ocasionally I'll drift into a fitful few minutes sleep, only to awake with a start and a feeling of dread that I've slept through my alarm. My heart will start racing and adrenaline will pump through my body. I'll look over at the alarm clock, only to see that I still have a good 2 hours before the horrible buzzing claxen of the alarm clock.
photo courtsey of Imageafter.com
The only real rest I get Sunday nights or Monday mornings is once the flight attendent closes the main cabin door on the plane, and I can sink myself into my airplane seat and finally shut my eyes, confident that I didn't miss my plane.
I'm not alone in this malady. Many of my fellow road warriors, business travellers who hit the road many times a year, describe a similar problem, the inability to sleep on those nights before early morning flights. I've tried a million things to try and sleep better - getting up early on Sunday morning so I'll be more tired on Sunday night, warm milk, booze (warm or cold), stretching exercises, counting backwards from 100, but so far nothing has eased the fear of missing that flight.
So this weekend was a blessing, and I'm doubly blessed when I think about the fact that come Friday I will be arriving at home and hanging up the laptop bag and black dress shoes for a full TWO WEEKS of not doing any business travel. I haven't even planned any big trips for my vacation, instead choosing to stay close to home, visiting with friends and family, hanging around the house drinking tea and watching DVDs and most importantly, sleeping in, especially on Monday mornings.