Why Can’t I F*cking Sleep?

You thought the recession was bad? Try being sleep bankrupt. I've even counted Kardashians but nothing will cure this bloody insomnia...
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You thought the recession was bad? Try being sleep bankrupt. I've even counted Kardashians but nothing will cure this bloody insomnia...

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Every few weeks, a bout of insomnia hits me unpleasantly, rather in the same way a winking emoticon sign-off on a text does. Both seem completely pointless and provoke intense irritation. I don’t really know the source of the sleeplessness. It’s not like I have a two-year-old child flying into my room at 3am screaming they have a sultana stuck up their nose. Or that my neighbours are having shouty, bed-squeaky sex (at least they’d be getting more action in bed than I am if they were, though). I’m not overly stressed. My pyjamas aren’t the back-scratchy Primark variety (I buy them from M&S instead – I’m posh like that). I’m single, so I don’t have a partner kicking like Lionel Messi and hogging my pillow.

I’ve tried all the things that the ‘sleep experts’ (did you know there’s even a Sleep Council? Perhaps Ken Livingstone should give that a crack) say you should do. Ditching caffeine after 3pm, drinking Valerian tea, logging off Wastebook early, sniffing lavender (which reminded me a bit too much of my nanna’s knickers drawer). I got bored with counting sheep so a friend suggested I try counting Kardashians instead, but I had to stop when Kanye crashed into the back of Kim mid-hurdle muttering something about her taking his money.

My yoga teacher told me to try opening my ‘third eye’ (it was news to me that I have a third eye, but would have been quite handy to know before I had my lazy-eye operation when I was little). This is done by picturing a flame flickering in the spot between your two eyes, and is supposed to soothe your thoughts. Unfortunately the flame got a bit out of hand and ended up sweeping through my brain like a wild bushfire, before I had to mentally chuck wet blankets over it. And I was still wide awake.

Unfortunately the flame got a bit out of hand and ended up sweeping through my brain like a wild bushfire

After four nights of sheet-rumpling tossing and turning till 2am, I’m looking like shit. I have huge bags under my eyes. I’ve tried doing the trick that Beauty People Who Work At Glossy Magazines recommend, where you draw a little ‘V’ in the corner of your eyes with a white eyeliner to distract from under-eye circles and make your eye colour ‘pop’, but it just looks like I’ve smudged Tipp-Ex over little crusts of sleep (‘sleep’ – ahaha, the irony). And mentally I’m suffering too. Studies show that short-term sleep deprivation leads to a foggy brain, worsened vision, impaired driving and trouble remembering. Long-term effects include obesity and heart disease. May as well just start eating my weight in HobNobs now if I’m going to be wild-eyed, blind and stupid with an arse the size of the moon before long anyway.

I’m not alone, though – metaphorically speaking, there are lots of us in the same bed. One in three Britons reports problems sleeping. The cost of a good night’s sleep to the NHS has almost hit £50 million, and, thanks to the double dip (sadly I’m not talking abut tortilla chips in salsa), money and worries are the biggest factors in stopping us heading off to never-never land.

Some call it a ‘sleep debt’: the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get. (Like I really need another kind of debt on my hands. Does the sleep bank offer overdrafts?) You can repay your debt, of course, but it won’t happen in one slumber marathon – getting an extra hour or two a night is the way to amass your sleep fortune. I’m hoping Wonga.com might be able to help me out with a short-term sleep loan (no doubt I’ll be paying that back for the next eight years though). In the meantime, I guess I’ll just keep counting Kardashians.

Do you have trouble sleeping? Are there any remedies that get you off? (To SLEEP, you filthy-minded rascals).

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