「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


The Land of Nod

By Mike Dwane


One morning last week, I was seemingly locked out of my own office. Bewildered, I tried the key again and only then noticed that somebody else's name was on the door. It opened abruptly before I had a chance to escape. I made my apologies to my startled colleague. Not only was I outside the wrong office, I was on the wrong corridor on the wrong floor!

This I put down to sleep deprivation. You see my baby son is being weaned off breast milk and now it is my turn to do the night shift. The English expression "to sleep like a baby" is technically correct. Babies are indeed deep sleepers. If only they would sleep at the right time.

The night before the morning I got lost at work, I must have had six hours' sleep. The only problem was it was in snatches of an hour here and an hour there in between feeding and comforting the baby.

Insomnia is a condition that we learn to deal with as we age but I still like to get at least seven uninterrupted hours when I head for the Land of Nod. I later comforted myself that it was easier for me to get lost at work because I work in such a big building.

All along the identical corridors of the hospital where I work are positive health messages — including some useful ones on the importance of sleep. "Get Eight Hours' Sleep And Make The Other Sixteen Easier," one poster reads.

But my boss tells me she can get by on just four hours a night. This is not an exaggeration. Sometimes, she may not get around to answering my emails until 1 a.m. or later. I must emphasise here that she is not a doctor, among whom long hours and fatigue are real issues here in Ireland. When you hear horror stories about doctors reading charts upside-down or operating on the wrong kidney, you wonder how much fatigue has to do with it.

It is all very well for people like Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister, to say four hours' sleep is all you need. But I prefer the example of Descartes, one of history's greatest thinkers and greatest sleepers. The founder of modern mathematics made a virtue of never getting out of bed before noon.

I could never make my mind up about the Japanese. On the one hand, they were the world's greatest workaholics and on the other, they were gold medallists at sleeping — not just on the subway but even in restaurants.

I was astonished once to learn that my Japanese boss actually had a bed in his office. I think that if my employers are serious about the health benefits of sleep, they will consider this Japanese solution and allow me a nice nap at work.




The Japan Times ST: January 1, 2016

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版