Sleep sweet sleep

Note: This blog post also ran in the Society of Professional Journalism’s “Journalism and the World” blog. Click here to see the original post (and comments).

Working in two — or more — time zones takes a toll. I need to stay up late many nights to talk with editors, interview sources in the US and Europe, rewrite stories on deadline, and deal with US-based staffers.

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve had several days in a row with four or five hours of sleep a night. I’m not a person who thrives on little sleep. I’m a person who thrives on lots of sleep. Nine hours a night, preferably.

There have been plenty of nights when I’m going to bed after the sun has come up.

After a while, I start feeling sleepy all the time, and drink gallons of Diet Coke to stay functional. A couple of weeks ago I ate something that disagreed with me, and stopped drinking the Diet Cokes to avoid aggravating my stomach even further with the caffeine. Once I was off the stuff — the withdrawal symptoms were buried under the sick feelings — I didn’t want to be back on. I’ve been drinking only an occasional soda — and no more than one a day — for the past two weeks.

As a result, I feel sleepy all the time now. If I could spend 24 hours in bed, I probably would. Not forever. Just long enough to work off my accumulated sleep debt.

Today, I took the afternoon off and spent it in bed. I had meetings this evening, and meetings scheduled all day tomorrow. So I think I’ll turn in early tonight — in the early hours of the mornng. Well before sunrise.

I’ve been working like this for over three years now. My dream is to get on a regular schedule, where I get to be awake during the day and asleep at night.

I love being overseas, but the lack of sleep takes its toll.

Signing off in Shanghai,