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Around The Sun: Sweet Dreams

Steve Harrison envies those who instantly fall aslep to enjoy sweet dreams.

I have to confess I am jealous of many Asian people. They possess a very remarkable gift that I seem to have lost somewhere along the road.

When they lay down they go to sleep, almost instantly. Any time, anywhere.

My wife has five wonderful brothers, who every so often arrive at our house, do various odd jobs around the place, watch DVD movies, eat, drink, talk loudly and generally enjoy themselves.

Around 9 pm they all go to sleep, no matter what is going on around them.

I donít have to worry about making up beds for them. Nor do I need to turn down the music or dim the lights. At 9 pm they lay on the floor (a hard concrete floor), and two minutes later they are all dead to the world. Walk over them, turn up the volume of the music, make as much racket as you like Ė and they sleep on.

Around 6 am, when the sun reappears, they spring up, miraculously wide awake without need of an alarm clock. Itís a wonderful thing to see.

Iím jealous. No matter how tired I am I never immediately drop off to sleep. The bed has to be re-made so that I am completely comfortable. There has to be absolute silence and total darkness. Even then, when the conditions are right, I donít go straight to sleep. The slightest noise disturbs me. A mosquito. A dripping tap. The slightest sound is enough to keep me conscious.

Asian folk seem to be able to fall asleep because it is the natural thing to do when it gets dark. But they also have the knack of being able to fall asleep during the day if they feel tired. Walk through the streets of Saigon at any hour and you see people sleeping on park benches, on parked cyclos (three wheeler tricycle taxis). Some can even sleep while wearing uniform, while standing up, as I have discovered.

In Phnom Penh motorcycle taxi drivers sleep on their bikes. They rest their bodies on the seats of their step-through Honda motorcycles, their heads on the rear luggage racks, and straddle their legs over the handlebars. What better bed for a good sleep. Though it doesnít pay to toss and turn if you are dreaming!

Iíve seen hundreds of them doing this, happily dozing the night away, oblivious to everything around them.

I tried it once when I was drunk. Goodness knows how long I lay snoring on my bike. I awoke in fright, wondering what I was doing precariously balanced on a machine half my size.

I salute my Asian friends. They may lack what Westerners consider to be riches, but they have this gift which money cannot buy Ė sweet dreams!

By the way, if you know a cure for insomnia please let me know what it is.

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