There’s hardly a night when I’m not woken up by my not-to-be-ignored bladder. I wouldn’t even call it ‘woken up’; it’s more like a state of half-consciousness in which my body informs the night-guard in my brain about the action that is needed. Preferably I stay as unconscious as possible at such times, so I can pick up the dream at the point where I left off once I return to bed. At home this works out very well most of the time. It does help that I can find the way from bed to toilet blindfold in my apartment, so switching on lights (which will certainly wake me up) is not necessary.
Since the air on a plane is very dry, we tend to drink a lot of water during our work. As a result of this, after a flight, the wake-up calls from my bladder are more frequent than usual. There’s no problem if the bed I’m sleeping in is my own, but when it’s a hotel bed, a visit to the toilet without waking up really is a challenge.
A lot of hotel rooms are more or less the same, with a short corridor as an entrance with a door leading to the bathroom. But when you’re in bed, it’s hard to tell which way it is to this corridor. And the night-guard of my brain doesn’t keep a record of all the furniture in every single hotel room either (I don’t blame him – his job is just guarding). So after bumping into the bed next to your bed (was there another bed in this room?), a floor lamp, the sharp corner of a desk and your own suitcase in the corner, you’ve woken up enough to decide that you need some light to get to the bathroom. But then you’ll encounter the next problem: where do I find a light? So you return to the floor lamp you just kicked over, you tussle with it for a time and then start to search for the on-off switch. It could be a button on top or at the bottom but there could just as easily be a cord-pull somewhere. If you’re really unlucky, this light can only be switched on or off using a button near the bed. Meanwhile your bladder is pestering you increasingly. When you finally return to bed, it’s as if you’ve never been as awake. And there’s no way that you’ll ever pick up that dream again.
Some of our frequent flyers travel even more than we do, and spend a lot of time in hotel rooms. I can’t help wondering whether they experience the same nightly inconveniences, but I never dare to ask.