FROM THE EDITOR YVONNE KERR
Ididn’t appreciate how devastating sleep deprivation was until I had a newborn. Night after night of getting up to feed my son every two hours rendered me delirious, leaving my phone in the fridge, putting ketchup in my tea, a half-witted idiot. Chucked in with an emotional cocktail of amazement, happiness and relief that my son had arrived safely, was an avalanche of anxiety, exhaustion and shock, all aggravated by much, much too little shut eye. The Stalinists would keep their prisoners awake for more than a week, slapping them when they dozed, making them stand. Torture, pure and simple.
Sharon Stephenson is a “classic” insomniac. She writes in this issue that she’s her own worst enemy, scrolling through emails on her phone in bed, making mental lists of things she needs to do, berating herself for stuff undone. Switching off is her nemesis. “I’ve tried everything,” she says.
As Sharon knows too well, insomniacs battle with their body and mind to wind down every night, addling the brain, and sleeplessness becomes a self-perpetuating saga. Can’t sleep, won’t sleep. Watching the clock makes it worse, but what else can you do at 3am when desperation sets in?
Well, just get up and do something else for half an hour, recommends Dr Alex Bartle of The Sleep Clinic. And go to bed later too, he says; it will leave time to lie awake and more time to invite tiredness in. Turn off the smartphone. Take a bath. Read. Relax. So far, so straightforward. Why then, is it so hard? See page 11.
HARDING HAS IT HER WAY