#42 Sleep Aids
Adapting to this sort of routine might be a difficult feat for a mere mortal, causing negative physical and mental effects. But as EAWs get more and more experienced with travel, their need for a few days’ rest or recovery in between traveling and work actually seems to diminish. Their strong minds and bodies easily adapt to the unnatural habit of timezone shifts.
Real EAWs arrive late on Sunday and are at work on Monday morning. They’ll even fly for 36 hours and show up right to that life-saving meeting trailing their carry-on (Nah, it’s fine, I’ll just check in during the coffee break) or hop into the Land Cruiser and head straight from the airport to the disaster zone.
Keeping up this pace can be slightly more challenging for the EAW who does not work at one of the top-of-the-line agencies that fly business class (you know who you are — the rest of us are publicly indignant yet secretly envious). This is where the lowly economy class EAW pulls out another of the tools that help make EAW life easier: the sleeping pill. A god-send for those long economy class flights, pop down an Ambien (or its generic equivalent) with a bottle (or was it 3?) of airplane wine, add earphones, and put on a sleep mask or Jennifer Aniston’s latest light romantic comedy, and you are good to go for 6-7 hours of in-flight sleep heaven. Just be sure not to swallow that pill before take-off in case take-off never happens. Re-routing your flight while narcoleptic can hamper your travel agent skills.
The sleeping pill, or it’s OTC substitutes (Dramamine, Tylenol PM, a handful of antihistamine…) for those that consider prescription medications unseemly or distasteful or possibly addictive, is also helpful for adjusting to a new time zone or sending stress levels on hiatus for a few hours when the disaster zone is getting to you, the stray dogs won’t shut up, the team house has become a late night party zone and/or the regional representative and his/her entourage is visiting tomorrow.
One EAW’s insomnia is another EAW’s sleep aid in the perfect ecosystem that is the aid-industrial complex. In those dire moments when sleep aids of the chemical variety are not available, the EAW can always pick up the latest Operational Handbook on Lessons Learned and Best Practices. That volume that kept a colleague in Geneva awake for several nights in a row (‘Best Practices’ or ‘Good Practices’? ‘Capacity Strengthening’ or ‘Capacity Building’? Need to remember to schedule that meeting to discuss terms: ‘Lessons Learned’ vs ‘Challenges Overcome’) can be just the thing….