Monthly Archives: September 2013

The one where I can’t sleep

I may have mentioned before but when it comes to sleep I have issues. One is a specific medical issue which I discovered I had aged 23 and if you ever want to feel exceptionally ridiculous tell people you are going for hospital tests that entail sleeping for 8 hours! The rests of them are far more non-specific but the biggest impact of them is I am shocking at getting to sleep but when it comes to actually sleeping I am world class – alarm clocks have given up and retired in the face of the challenge.

For those of you of a certain age (at least everyone older than me) you may remember this:

It’s the BBC test card and it’s what was broadcast when the channel was off-air. Yes – off air. Not broadcasting any content. You had a very nice man with a soothing voice thank you for watching, they played ‘God Save the Queen’ and that was it. If you think I’m joking – google it!

The problem I face now is there is just too many opportunities to not go to bed (and I should confess that I am writing this at 1.25am). If you think of the range of stimuli that are available to us 24/7 365 then it shouldn’t be a shocker that some people really struggle to sleep. A counsellor once told me that you should avoid screens (computer, TV etc) for at least 30 minutes before trying to get to sleep as they stimulate your brain in a certain way which isn’t conducive to nutrious sleep (you REM, dreaming and all that stuff). I forgot to ask about smart phones…

The other part of the problem is what a news journalist would refer to as the ‘B-roll’ the stuff they were recording whilst waiting around or setting up the story. You finally exert the discipline to get into bed, lie there in the dark with your eyes closed (counting sheep is a risk for me – I’m Welsh) and all of a sudden it’s like some pressing play. All of the stuff that has been pushed down for the previous hours/days comes leaping front of mind and I have yet to find a pause button, let alone a stop button.

I remember watching a TED talk a few years ago delivered by Arianna Huffington about Sleep and her assertion was that men have attached bragging rights to getting less and less sleep – I think it’s definitely another thing we can blame Margaret Thatcher for (she famously only needed a few hours sleep per night). I know for sure that I am more scratchy and irritable on days when I’ve had less sleep, more inclined to make quick decisions, more inclined to avoid things I have committed to (like the gym!) and often compound the problem by falling asleep on the sofa the following evening thus perpetuating the challenge of getting to sleep.

So I’m curious…how many people out there find themselves in the same situation?And more importantly – are there any tricks I am missing? Should I be drinking 3 glasses of water 1 hour before trying to sleep? Is there some magic formula that has so far eluded me?

Aside from being clearer about going to bed, switching off all the technology, making sure you try and make a note of all those things you have to do that will crop up when you are lying in bed, having a note book to write down the ‘b-roll’ stuff – what have you got for me?

Why write this now? Well it’s now 1.31am and I don’t want to have think about this stuff when I go to bed (I will go in a few minutes – I promise) but basically…I can’t sleep!



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