Today I flew from Beijing to San Francisco, an 11-hour flight. For the first time ever on a long flight, I slept well even though I had to sleep in my seat. (When I’ve been able to stretch out on several seats or on the floor, I’ve slept okay.) I slept so much the flight felt short — like it was four hours long. When we landed in San Francisco, I felt great. As if I hadn’t traveled at all. This has never happened before. Instead of going straight home, I did some errands.
Why did I sleep so well? It surely helped that the flight started at 4 pm Beijing time, to which I was well-adjusted. But I’ve never before slept well sitting up, no matter what the flight time. I think this time was different because I did two things I’ve never done together before:
1. Lots of one-legged standing. Around 2 pm I stood on one leg to exhaustion 3 times (right leg, left leg, right leg).Â Around 7 pm I did it again: left leg, right leg, left leg. Six times is a really large dose, too large to be used every day because my legs would get too strong. Usually I do two or four times. I think that the two bouts (in this case, 2 pm and 7 pm) need to be widely spaced so that signaling molecules released into the blood by the exertion can be replenished.
2. Lots of cheese. Around 7 pm, I ate about a quarter-pound of Stilton. With a milder cheese I might have eaten more. It isn’t just the animal fat, I think something in milk makes me sleepy.
Around 8 pm I started trying to fall asleep. It didn’t seem promising, I only felt a little tired and not completely comfortable, but after maybe 4 minutes with my eyes shut, I fell asleep for most of the rest of the flight.