Sleeping In The Airport


I remember traveling the U.S. looking for a residency — back then it was in neurological surgery.  My mother made me a detailed itinerary in a notebook which I clasped in my purse.  Cheap motels  awaited me in university cities when I arrived for my interviews. I mean, I never would have gone to all that trouble if I knew I was going to change specialties before long.

People asleep in airport waiting areasStill, my enthusiasm carried me through a route with too many time zone changes.  But I was young, single minded, rendered joyous and enthusiastic by my love of the brain.

I had a horror, as some of this was done in snowy regions at snowy times, of having to sleep in an airport.   I am delighted to report that I never had to – unlike our most recent holiday season,  when many people had to.

This kind of reporting fascinates us. After all, weather is probably the most common topic of everyday conversation.  Whether or not it affects us directly, we want to know about people who are weather victims.

Mark Twain said, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Personally I am a little disappointed we have not moved beyond this morbid fascination with nature’s weather tantrums.  Perhaps it’s our animal nature behind our interest.  Or that ever grateful “there but for the grace of God go I” feeling.

Not a lot of research has been done about what sleeping in the airport does to someone.  But a lot of research exists about what airport noise does to someone.

All of this rings true. My father of blessed memory was the organist and choir director at a synagogue that was within easy earshot of Logan International Airport in greater Boston. Anyone who lived anywhere near enough to be in his choir without driving too far across Boston would complain almost all the time about the aircraft noise they could not escape.

It does bring up the question of whether anyone who was stuck sleeping at an airport could get any sleep at all.  Maybe it is better now than it used to be, I suppose, as I have heard communities with airports do not permit taking off too late in the evening or too early in in the morning.

Perhaps a little advance preparation can help airport sleeping.  Some travelers have reported success with sniffing lavender, taking some melatonin supplements, and even radical solutions like bringing your own pillow.

Apparently, at least some of us are so victimized by the economy that we will consider a night at the airport to shave a couple of dollars off the travel fare. Me, even though I certainly have an academic interest in sleep, I find this blog curious. It reminds me of those Playboy bunnies who list “sleep” as one of their hobbies. But apparently, people believe this is a common situation, and offer practical advice.

The last tip I’ll offer you is the one I have real trouble with — setting your cell phone alarm for every two hours.  This may be good to “keep you alert,” but not terribly good for satisfying sleep.  Although the sleep cycle is supposed to be about 90 minutes or so, well, all bets are off in an airport.

Many of us are flying less because of security measures. Now we have another reason.

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