MANY of us have difficulty falling asleep from time to time, but for some this can be a problem that plagues them every night.
This Morning star Alice Beer appeared on the show to talk about her own struggles with insomnia, which she described as a “form of torture” that lasted 20 years.
A third of Brits say they have trouble sleeping on a weekly basis, and for some, insomnia can occur every night.
The presenter counts herself among the 20 per cent who suffer from insomnia every night and told hosts Holly Willoughby and Josie Gibson candidly how insomnia has spread into every aspect of her life.
But Alice revealed that she had recently found a new technique to deal with it.
The star said she never considered herself a “good sleeper” and recalled that when she was younger she didn’t need “that much sleep” and always woke up pretty early.
But her real problems with falling asleep began after she gave birth to her twins Phoebe and Dora 20 years ago, she told the hosts.
“I know so many women – especially women – who identify with what I went through. It’s not just ‘Oh, I had a bad night last night.’ I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about the chronic, persistent inability to sleep more than about three or four hours a night.
When Holly asked her how she functioned in everyday life, Alice said: “You do function, but on a certain level. It affects everything.”
She continued: “It affects what you eat – I start eating sugar and gain two stone. It affects how I am in my relationships with people and work colleagues. It affects whether I exercise. It leaves you reeling when you have pre-diabetes.” It affects your physical and mental health.
“It’s torture. It is a form of torture. And all you want to do is go to bed and sleep.”
Alice described trying every treatment under the sun: “If someone tells me lavender spray, I’ll put it where the sun don’t shine.”
She even admitted to resorting to sleeping pills every night, which was “really bad for you.” These eventually stopped working because she took them so often.
But the presenter said she recently discovered she had been “doing everything wrong”.
Alice remembered “teaching” her twins to sleep through the night, but it never occurred to her that she could do the same for herself.
Her silver lining came when she read a newspaper article about a woman who suffered from similar sleep problems and completed a six-week cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) course called Sleepstation.
Alice decided to try it herself and found that she was sleeping “for the first time in three decades.”
She visited the Sleepstation website and started the course two days later after contacting her GP.
“And honestly, I had tears in my eyes thinking that there was something out there. And I was angry that my GP had never mentioned it to me in my medical records in 20 years.”
Sleepstation is a sleep improvement and insomnia course that helps identify the underlying causes of insomnia.
It looks at a person’s daily routine and habits to suggest behavioral changes for better sleep and can be accessed on the NHS if your GP practice is registered, or you can sign up privately.
Christina Guerra Unwin, senior NHS program manager, told Holly and Josie that Sleepstation was available in “41 out of 42 areas of the country”, although not yet in every single GP practice.
If your GP doesn’t work with Sleepstation, Christina recommends you access it privately.
“We have numerous resources to support people affected by the cost of living crisis,” she added.
Christina explained what CBT is: “We focus on behavior change. It’s also about focusing on different patterns, what in your lifestyle might be affecting your sleep right now. We know it’s never just sleep.”
These can include depression, anxiety, caffeine and alcohol consumption, screen time, diet and exercise, the program manager said.
Alice added: “I have good nights and I have bad nights but I win. I haven’t taken a sleeping pill for three weeks and that’s ridiculous to me.”
“And over the weekend I slept for five and a half hours without anything helping me, and that’s a breakthrough. I hope other people access it because it’s really important.”