I recently had the pleasure of being on a single airplane for 14 and a half hours. Suspended 30,000 feet above the ground, every pore in my body gasping for moisture, hacking coughs and baby wails saturating the soundscape, I attempted to sleep—to simply rest my weary body in the wake of the banal travails of modern international air travel. This was my mistake—placing myself in a situation in which I, in public, end up reacting like this to a light touch:
There is something very fundamentally swagless about being startled awake… perhaps because it belies that, at your core, in the moments when you can’t access your social artifice, you’re extremely unchill and sort of afraid. Being placed into this position in public is especially humiliating, and I suspect that airlines use this torture method as a tactic to keep their passengers docile and compliant as they sail the friendly skies.
The scariest feeling is when you’re startled awake, head lolling, and then unable to pull yourself out of the drowsiness, so you just sort of fall back asleep immediately, even when you’re seated in an exit row and the flight attendant who woke you up in the first place is still waiting for an answer to their question. It’s that weird space where you can’t rouse yourself but you’re really aware, and it can be terrifying.
So many experiences relating to sleep can be this way—horrifying and traumatic dreams, strange paralysis, waking up after a long nap to some kind of disgusting internal feeling that lasts the rest of the day. Yet we still crave the damn stuff. I guess it’s because something in our brain marks those experiences as being unimportant, so we forget they happen. Yep, interesting stuff here for sure.
I’ve never taken melatonin before. I’m built different lol