Too many of us can only dream of getting enough sleep these days. Whether it’s work, stress, noise, heartache, or more work, there’s always something holding us back from catching our full dose of shut-eye each night. According to a survey by AC Nielsen, nine out of 10 Hong Kong adults have trouble drifting off at night, with 66 percent inclined to go to bed after midnight. Teenagers are even worse off. A report by Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital finds 95 percent of secondary school students are steeped in “sleep debt,” with one in four of them getting less than six hours a night, their average hours dropping as they move up one grade to the next. Even local babies don’t get enough, with children under three averaging nine hours against the US National Sleep Foundation’s recommended 15. It’s hardly surprising. Indeed, many of us have taken to bragging about how little sleep we get. Professionals wear their bleary eyes like a baggy badge of honor, a sign of industriousness and stamina amid today’s competitive environment: only losers are snoozers in the adrenaline-happy rat race. Yet there’s also an increasing barrage of evidence about the ill effects of sleeplessness. We hear that lack of sleep hinders your memory, problem-solving skills and other cognitive functions. It renders you accident-prone. It doubles the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. It makes you age faster. It makes you irretrievably ugly. According to a peculiar study by British Airways on how sleeplessness it affects different nationalities, it makes Hong Kong people in particular act weirdly “suspicious and reserved.” Meanwhile, a study by the International Journal of Obesity last year cites lack of sleep as a major cause of obesity in Hong Kong. In this issue, we look at everything to do with sleep. How does your bedroom compare to others? Which sleeping pills are the most effective? Where can we buy gear to help us get to sleep? We stayed up all night to bring you the answers to these and other concerns. Turning off in Transit Trying to sleep on a plane is hell. Here’s how to help yourself drift off on a long-haul flight. Sleeping on planes is an art form. For most of us, to actually fall asleep in an economy class seat is akin to having a power nap as the medieval dungeon master cranks another turn on the thumbscrews. But it doesn’t have to be that way; just follow our handy dandy tips, and you’ll be snoozing those long, lonely hours away with the best of them. Seating The most important part, considering most vessels are packed to the brim nowadays. The best advice is to plan early. Most airlines provide online seat booking days before the flight, but you’ll have to be prepared, which means knowing exactly which seat you want. Seatguru ( www.seatguru.com ) provides not only seating charts for every major airline, but the size of the seat and the distance they recline. So which seats are the best? Apart from the emergency exits, we recommend the window seats in the front of plane, away from the engines where it’s quieter. They not only provide you with something to rest your head against, but keep you away from aisle traffic and give you control over the window shade. Stay away from the last row (non-reclining) and bulkhead seats (no armrests). And while most might not agree, we say recline your seat back as much as you want – you ain’t ever gonna see those people again. Eating and Drinking We all know not to eat a couple hours before sleeping, yet we stuff our faces at the airport before boarding. Eat at home before you leave and save some cash – and stay far, far away from caffeine and alcohol, both of which cause discomfort at such high altitudes. As you’ll also be dehydrated, bring a bottle of water onboard to save you from ringing that infernal call button. But do inform an airhostess and your neighbor that you’ll skip the in-flight meal. Or better yet, use the stickers if they have them – airplane food sucks anyway. Drugs More info on this can be found on p.16, but if you can’t get your hands on some of the prescription stuff, try over-the-counter drugs like Melatonin or Dramamine. Melatonin is a naturally occurring substance, the level of which declines as we age (which is why old people don’t sleep). It takes a while to kick in, so most doctors recommend you start taking it at least three days before traveling – which helps with the jetlag. Dramamine, on the other hand, is a motion sickness pill – not only will it knock you out, but staying awake on it can give you some pretty mean hallucinations, so make sure it’s a long-haul flight and make sure you’re sure you’ll sleep. Can’t Sleep? Wont Sleep? With restaurants and bars open all hours, it’s not surprising that Hong Kong is an insomniac’s playground. Here’s some ideas for night owls looking to kill some time Work It Out Stop being such a lazy slob and start pumping that iron at California Fitness Center ( www.californiafitness.com ). Every branch on Hong Kong Island is open till midnight on weekdays, and the ones in Kowloon on weekends. Play Mahjong Their official stance is that they shut their doors at midnight. Kong Hing Majong (348 Lockhart Rd., Wan Chai, 2892-0578) and Tai Kam Lung (2 Spring Garden Lane, Wan Chai, 2572-1379) are two of the best places to partake in one of our national obsessions. Just don’t lose your pants. Get a Haircut The mullet shag preventing a decent night’s rest? Head over to Initial (Shop 2, 48 Cameron Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2311-4233), a concept store that combines retail clothing, exhibitions, a café and a hair salon – but you’ll have to be quick as it closes at 11:30pm every night. Surf the Net Join your fellow geeks at the numerous cyber cafes around town. Eat cheap snacks, drink lots of soda and play Counterstrike for hours on end at one of these places: Friends Station Cyber 3/F, 271 Lockhart Rd., Wan Chai, 2511-3344 Cyber Clan Luen Tai Building, 93-99 Wan Chai Rd., Wan Chai, 2723-2821 Juo Bear Cafe 496 Jaffe Rd., Wan Chai, 2838-1322 Catch a Flick Yes, why watch late-night infomercials on your tiny TV when you can escape to dark, cozy confines showing big-screen blockbusters. Most major cinema chains restrict their midnight showings to the weekends, which makes the Chinachem Golden Plaza Cinema (77 Mody Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui East, 2311-3004) and the Paris London New York Cinema (Hong Lai Garden, Ho Pong St., TMTL 280, Tuen Mun, 2452-2123) the only theaters to regularly screen flicks till the wee hours. Showings at 1:40am and 3:30am for the low price of $50. Go Shopping Take a tip from the local tai tais for the best sleep remedy: shop till you drop. The APM Shopping Mall (418 Kwun Tong Rd., Kwun Tong, www.apm-milleniumcity.com ) was built just for your sleepless needs, with six floors of boutique fashion stores open till midnight every night, and over 20 restaurants keeping their kitchens going until 2am. Play Pool Spend the morning practicing your sledgehammer break at Joe’s Billiards and Bar (2/F, Kings Hotel, 303 Jaffe Rd., Wan Chai, 3188-1470, www.joesbilliards.com ), open till 5am nightly. Or you can take a seat in one of the diner booths and order from a great all-night menu. Shoot Some Hoops Challenge the local thugs and future Yao Mings over at the Lockhart Road Playground in the Wan Chai bar district – the gates never close and you can undoubtedly find lanky ballers taking on drunken revelers at every hour of night.