Although she enjoys travelling, Teresa Yong-Leong finds her experience is often marred by the inability to sleep well on unfamiliar beds
MUCH as I enjoy travelling, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed is a real problem. I am a creature of habit and need my own pillow to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Since young, I’ve rarely been able to sleep six or seven hours straight every night, said to be mandatory for total rest and recovery.
I envy those who can hit the sack and nod off to slumberland immediately. More so those who can snooze under any circumstance. This is akin to what the Chinese say: Even if the sky falls on you, treat it as a blanket!
I watched in amazement a long time ago when a classmate slept all night on a journey to the East Coast in a van that was hardly comfortable.
She was oblivious to the jolts when the vehicle hit bumps on the road or when the driver had to brake to avoid a sleeping cow on the road. She was fully recharged and raring to go while I was all bleary-eyed when we finally arrived.
The night before a trip is the worst. I hardly get to shut my eyes for more than four hours. First, I’m usually too excited at the prospect of going to a new destination and second, I worry about oversleeping despite having set the alarm clock.
Very often, by the time I reach the airport, I am on auto mode and can only heave a sigh of relief when I am safely on board the plane.
How I wish I could make up for the lost time by sleeping through until I reach my destination, especially those early morning flights. But alas, no such good fortune for me.
I would try to relax and get some shut-eye but to no avail. So I watch with envy as my fellow passengers settle in, with some even snoring in their sleep.
I try to read but I feel as if the overhead reading light is an intrusion on those sleeping.
On landing, the excitement of meeting new people and experiences will carry me through the day.
By nightfall, I may be physically exhausted, but blessed sleep rarely comes. I will still be fidgeting on the bed, tossing and turning.
I have come across all types of hotel beds in the course of my travels. Once I was staying in a five – star hotel and guess what? The pillows, while comfortable and luxuriously soft, smelt of stale sweat! Even after they were replaced, I imagined the lingering odour. So there went my sweet dreams....
At another time, I checked into a room with pillows so old and worn I thought they were more fit for the bin. Needless to say, sleep was an impossible dream and I got up the next day with panda eyes and was extremely irritable the rest of the day.
This sleeplessness is compounded on tours which involve changing rooms every night. By the third night, I would be so physically drained that I would finally fall into a fitful sleep filled with funny dreams. I don’t recall what they were about but they were certainly not happy ones.
I have tried taking relaxants but really, they are of no help. I may manage three or four hours of sleep at best but the excitement of new experiences is what keeps me going.
To help myself sleep better, I now bring along my indispensable neck pillow to provide a feeling of familiarity.
So on those rare occasions when I actually achieve six hours of blissful sleep, I literally spring out of bed with a song in my head. At such times, I feel as if I could scale Mount Kinabalu as no mountain would be too high despite my lack of fitness and fear of heights!