When you don’t get a good night’s sleep, the rest of the day can turn out to be a complete nightmare. I have firsthand experience of what havoc sleep deprivation can play.

I vividly remember a particular day when I woke up with a splitting headache after a restless night in bed. To stimulate my senses, I made some tea for myself. However, in my drowsy state, I ended up pouring half of the steaming hot tea on the polished table, instead of the mug. After I finally got some of the tea in the mug and tried to lift it up, my hand shook uncontrollably like a leaf on a windy day.

The tea did wake me up, but there was nothing I could do that morning to give me the necessary energy. I had a couple of important interviews lined up that day for a story I was working on and I just could not afford to cancel them. Journalists can even risk their lives for an exciting story - lack of sleep was still a small sacrifice. So, I dragged myself to my car and made the 25-minute journey to the destination.

When I reported to the pretty Secretary, she took one look at me and asked with concern: “Are you alright?” I blatantly lied and told her that I was just fine. She motioned me to sit on the sofa and I gratefully did just that. The seat was so comfortable that I had to battle the urge to simply shut my eyes and start snoring away.

The Secretary quickly understood my plight.

“Perhaps, you could use some coffee?” she asked.

I nodded, perhaps too eagerly, because she added: “Shall I make it strong?”

That would be great, I told her. Soon she came back with the coffee and I gratefully began sipping away. By the time the big boss had the time for me, I felt a bit invigorated. The interviewee noticed me staggering steps inside his office and inquired gently: “Did you have a rough night?”

By that time, I really didn’t feel the need to deny the obvious. But I had to decline his offer of another cup of coffee, because I was anxious to finish my business. My tape recorder saved me the pain of jotting down every word he said in my dazed state.

After the interview was over, I thanked him and took the elevator to the ground floor. Then suddenly my mind went completely blank. Where did I leave the car? I wondered. It took me a long time to figure out where I had parked it. And when I finally found it, I was really tempted to recline in the seat and sleep behind the wheel. But unfortunately, I had to move on to get another interview.

I don’t know how I managed to avoid an accident on the road, because I was half-asleep when I reached the next place. This time, I did not have the good luck of meeting a cordial Secretary. Instead, the male Secretary scowled at me for arriving a couple of minutes late. He pretended he did not hear my apologies and rushed me through the door to his boss’s office. As luck would have it, the big shot said he did not have much time.

“An urgent board meeting in 10 minutes time. We need to make it quick,” he said without any trace of apology in his voice.

It suited me fine. When seven precise minutes passed, the rude Secretary walked in to announce that the Chairman was ready to start the board meeting. I left quickly, a bit unsure whether I had asked all the relevant questions. But at that moment, I could not care less; all I longed for was a bed to crash in.

Even though I was dreading the drive back home, I still made it in one piece. However, all I managed was three hours of sleep because the editor was in a hurry to release the story that I was working on. The woes of being a sleep-deprived journalist are plenty!

The writer is an Oman-based freelance columnist. This article has been reproduced from the Khaleej Times.