I used to be able to read in the car. I spent hours in the backseat with a stack of library books as we drove to the beach, to the mountains, across the state, up to Canada. My sisters claimed it made them carsick to just see me with a book, but they were so much older that we rarely were traveling together. I kept this ability into my 20s, reading on buses in Eastern Europe during my first stay there after college. Then sometime in my mid-20s, those same buses started to make me feel queasy if I was reading. Now I can barely read stop signs without feeling ill.
I used to be able to sleep on planes. Correction; I used to LOVE to sleep on planes. I once got on a flight in Helsinki, chatted briefly with my seatmate, went to sleep, and woke up in Seattle. The other girl looked at me in awe and said, "You slept the WHOLE WAY." My parents were quite disgruntled to find that when they sat by the tarmac and waited for my plane to pull out so they could wave goodbye, I was already sound asleep. Occasionally when my neck got stiff I'd pop open the seat tray and cushion my head on my arms. That was actually more comfortable, but when I sat back up, I always let loose with the world's hugest belch. (Oh, I'm sorry, did you not want to know that?) That ability faded, also in my 20s. (I refer to the ability to sleep on planes, not the ability to belch.) Now I fuss and fidget, and if I do doze off, the pain in my neck wakes me up within moments. I arrive as groggy and disoriented as the rest of you.
(I also used to be able to drink copious amounts of alcohol without getting sick, but that's not a trait I particularly miss. I'm just adding it because I lost that skill around the same time as the others.)
One thing I'm still good at is sleep. I am a champion sleeper. If I'm having trouble falling asleep because of brain chatter, I count backwards from 100, visualizing each number as I go. I rarely make it past the mid 60s. If I do get down to zero, it's almost always because I'm not visualizing, so I do it again, right, and fall asleep. If the house is quiet and I have no prior plans, I can easily sleep 10 hours. Friends and family know not to bother calling before 9:00 on weekends, and that's just because I'm too embarrassed to tell them to not call before noon. Stress does not affect this. During the horrible month when my mom was dying and I spent most of the time at my parents' house, I'd fall asleep, exhausted, each evening, and sleep soundly until morning.
The one exception seems to be a sort of happy stress. I first noticed in when I was, yes, in my mid 20s and living abroad. A friend volunteering with Peace Corps in Hungary and I had organized a language camp for her students and mine, bringing 20 kids to stay in host families in Latvia and recruiting our friends to teach a language/environmental camp. Every night I'd set my alarm early so I could wake up and keep things rolling. Instead, I'd pop awake after about five hours of sleep. I realized that my body knew the bare minimum it needed to repair and recover from one day, and that was all my mind would allow it when there was so much to be done. I had the same experience before my wedding, and on a one-day basis before major trips. Christmas mornings have the same effect.
Yesterday we found out that our adoption trip will be next week. NEXT WEEK. School isn't quite over yet. I am moving schools next year and need to box up my classroom. The bedrooms aren't ready yet. (A friend said, 'Oh, you can do all that when they get home. All they need now is a bed and furniture.' I was too embarrased to admit that when I say the bedrooms aren't ready, I do NOT mean that the bedrooms have yet to be tastefully decorated. I mean there is an unmade bed and an unassembled bed in one room, and a whole bunch of file cabinets, craft supplies, a desk, a work tables, and assorted other crap in the other.) I took today off school to start working on things, went to bed at a reasonable hour last night (11:00), and set the alarm for 8:00.
I woke up at 3:00. Then at 4:15. Then at 4:45. I made myself stay in bed until it got light out, and was downstairs by 5:30. I have a strong suspicion I'll be waking up early every morning for quite a while.