Strange Places to Sleep
One of the side-effects of sleep-deprivation is falling asleep in strange
places. I'm not talking about slightly inconvenient places, like when
I'm sitting in the front row of my fluid mechanics class, doing homework
at the desk in my room, or sitting in front of this lovely Hewlett
Packard. No, those are such common places for me to sleep that I now
consider them "bed". I'm referring to situations such as:
- In Portugal, I actually slept for about half an hour on the battlement
of a castle. (Don't worry, it's safer than you'd think - the surface of the
battlement was much larger than it looked from the ground, and my friend Gulli
was watching over me the whole time.) Incidentally, I was hugging half a
melon as I slept. Gulli was kind enough to provide
proof of this.
- In Sweden, I fell asleep on a train (the first of many I had to take
that day to get to Germany) and missed my stop, thereby missing the connecting
train. But it was ok - by taking two other trains and a ferry, I was able to
catch up to the following connecting train and I made it to Germany on time.
- To get from Paris to Los Angeles this August, I had to change planes
in San Francisco. Unfortunately, I arrived in SF just as the city suffered
a major power outage and all the flights were cancelled for the remainder of
the day. Yes, I spent the night sleeping on the floor of the San Francisco
International Airport. But it was nice - the floor was carpeted.
- I was using an electron microscope for an engineering laboratory
course while the prof was standing right
next to me. I dozed off while looking at the specimen only to be
awakened by the sound of his voice giving me instructions.
- Two other students and I were having breakfast with a recruiter from
Boeing (where I had applied for a summer internship) and I dozed off
while he was talking (hey, don't blame me - it was a 7:00 AM breakfast, and
I had been awake all night doing fluid mechanics homework). Either he didn't notice or he is an incredibly
- After having stayed awake all night writing HTML, I dozed off for
just a second when I was taking notes in my differential equations class.
When I looked down at my notebook, I noticed that I had written <i>
beside an equation.
- Freshman year, Kip Thorne gave us a lecture about time travel. The
few minutes during which I was awake were fascinating.
- In February, Stephen Hawking gave us a lecture about life in the
universe. I was only awake for the first half of it. It's true that speech
synthesizers aren't known for their ability to produce lively sounds, but
what kind of crazy person would let themselves go to sleep during a talk
by Stephen Hawking?
- I fell asleep for 15 minutes during a math midterm freshman year. I
passed it anyway.
- I fell asleep for a couple hours during an economics midterm a couple
years ago. Fortunately, the prof let me work overtime without penalty.
- While waiting for someone (who was very late) on a bench in downtown
Seattle I slept sitting up for over an hour. Luckily I was still wearing
my purse when I woke up.
- It's easy to fall asleep on the public busses in Seattle and usually
I wake up before I reach my stop. A few times I ended up one or two
miles away from my house. Once I ended up in a different city.
- Earlier this month (March) I fell asleep while playing the piano.
Another student saw me slumped over the piano and worriedly asked me if I
- Once during my high school years I was talking on the phone to
someone named John who was telling me a long story from the Bible. I
fell asleep and evidently he spent a few minutes yelling my name to get
me to wake up. When I woke up, he started the story over.
- After my high school's senior prom, my date and I played Scrabble
(pitiful, yes, I know). I fell asleep during each of his turns. I won.
- One week ago I was riding in a friend's car and we started talking
about tires. I dozed off and awakened to hear myself saying "I already
have links to each of your tires on my home page."
- I was really tired once while taking a shower. I sat down on the
tile floor and awoke an hour later with the water still pouring down on me.
- Once I fell asleep between bites while eating dinner.
head fell just to the right of my plate (I was having mashed potatoes, so
I guess it would've felt kind of neat to fall right on my plate, but I
Since I put this page on the web, I've gotten e-mail from people who are
concerned about my sleeping disorder. So to calm your worries, I thought
I should clarify: I don't spontaneously fall asleep because I have
some kind of weird disease which prevents me from controlling my
eyelids. It's just that I stay awake for days at a time (because I hate
to stop whatever I'm doing to go do something boring like lie
in bed) - so my body gets the sleep it needs at whatever odd moments I let
it (i.e. when I'm doing something boring).
Note: a few people have written to me about "funny" incidents where
they've fallen asleep while driving. I don't think it's funny at all to
put other people's lives in danger.