This Morning’s Alice Beer has opened up on her 20-year struggle with insomnia and revealed the ‘breakthrough’ new-found technique helping her to sleep better.
The 58 year old TV star, who has worked on the ITV daytime as a consumer presenter since 2014, told how her ‘chronic inability’ to get a good night’s sleep has affected every part of her life for two decades. Speaking on Tuesday’s episode of This Morning, 3 October, she described how being plagued by insomnia was a “form of torture”.
But she said she recently heard about cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) website Sleepstation and for the past three weeks has been receiving coaching on how to change her daily behaviour to get better sleep. She said she now felt like she was “winning” the battle against her insomnia and likened the therapy to ‘from couch to 5k’ – where people gradually work up towards running 5km in nine weeks.
Alice, best known for appearing on BBC One’s consumer investigative journalism programme Watchdog in the 1990s, said on This Morning that she had never been a great sleeper but her problems with insomnia really started after she had her twin daughters Phoebe and Dora 20 years ago.
She added: “I know so many women, especially women – who identify with what I’ve been 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, on-going inability to get more than about three or four hours a night.”
After host Holly Willoughby said she did not know how a person could function off so little sleep, Alice said: “You do function, but on a certain level. It affects everything. It affects what you eat. I started eating sugar and put on two stone.
“It affects how I am in my relationships with people, work colleagues. It affects whether I exercise. It makes you teeter on pre-diabetes. It affects your physical and mental health. It is torture. It is a form of torture. And all you want is to go to bed and sleep.”
Alice said she had “tried everything” to combat the insomnia but was beyond lavender “pillow sprays, magnesium and melatonin”. She said she had been forced to take sleeping tablets every night, which is “not good for you”.
But she told how she had then read in a newspaper about CBT-I and visited Sleepstation’s website. Alice added that, while she had helped train her twins to sleep through from a young age, she had never thought she could do the same for herself.
She added: “And honestly I was tearful at the thought that there was something out there. And I was angry that my GP had never mentioned this to me before, in 20 years on my medical record.”
Sleepstation can be available through the NHS if a patient’s GP practice is signed up, or it can be joined privately. Staff from the programme look at a person’s daily routine and habits to see where behavioural changes can be made to improve sleep.
Alice said: "I have good nights and I have bad nights but I am winning. I haven’t taken a sleeping tablet for three weeks and that is ridiculous for me. And at the weekend I slept for five and a half hours without anything helping me and that is a breakthrough.”
She concluded: “I hope other people access it as it’s really important.”
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