Would 19 Hours and 16 Minutes in the Air Make Me Crazy?

After dinner, the mood rapidly downshifted. Whoosh, the lights went out. The effect was of being in a birdcage over which your owner has abruptly dropped a blackout cloth. Everyone lay down and (it seemed) fell asleep on the spot. Alone with my obsessions, I kept remembering “Lost in Translation,” the 2003 film in which a dazed and alienated Bill Murray wanders around Tokyo for days on end, wacked out from insomnia.

Against Professor Carroll’s judgment, I took an Ambien and then, when it did not seem to work, took another one. I do not know what happened next. Nor do I know what time it was when the lights surged back on, because I cannot read what I wrote in that particular section of my notebook. But we were much closer to Australia.

The passengers were in various states of bedragglement; the crew members, who had slept in shifts, looked fresh and perky. Breakfast came, an energizing egg-white omelet with balsamic herb potatoes, sautéed kale, spinach and mushrooms. I was so happy to have such a nice meal. I knocked back several lattes and a glass of “wake up juice.” Nutrition coursed through my body. Knowing that, when it comes to sinuses, landing is far worse than taking off, I took another decongestant, an allergy pill, an antibiotic and a couple more squirts of Afrin.

Across the aisle, Billy Foster, a cameraman for Sunrise, Mr. Koch’s program, said he normally wakes up for work at 3 a.m., but had been traveling so much that he had lost track of what day it was. He had already had four double shots of espresso. “I reckon I got two or three hours of sleep,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been hit by a train.”

On the other hand, David Speck, the onboard chef, was doing much better. He had followed his own nutritional program. “I had a big bowl of soup and thought, ‘I’ll just sit down and watch a movie,’” he said. “I started watching a Johnny Depp movie, what was it called? I lasted about five minutes. Five hours later, the guys took about five minutes to wake me up. It’s probably the best sleep I’ve ever had on a plane.”

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