For many years – since I was about 49, roughly when I went into the menopause – I have suffered from long bouts of all kinds of sleepless nights. The most frequent being the 'waking at 3 a.m. on the dot and not being able to get back to sleep until 6 a.m.' one. But there's the 'not being able to get off to sleep when I got to bed' version, and the 'lying awake virtually all night' version too.
Most years I have been able to count the nights of really good, deep, restful sleep on two hands. Yes, the doctor prescribed me temazepam, but being a prescription pill hater, I've always restricted myself to maximum one a fortnight, or one pack a year. In between, if desperate I would take two herbals of some kind – usually Natrasleep or Nytol herbal. Or sometimes two paracetamol or aspirin, both of which seem to have some kind of calming effect.
So what's the point of me boring you about my insomnia when this is a diet and fitness challenge? Well – a couple of weeks ago, I realised something.
I'm sleeping. I haven't taken a temazepam for months nor touched the herbals or paras. I hadn't even thought about them. I'm going to sleep at night and waking up in the morning like a proper person. It's amazing!
And do you know what – I'm as sure as I can be that it's the exercise having this effect. The reason I know is that, apart from my Hay Bluff plod last week, I had a very very poor week for walking or exercise of any kind, as I was incredibly busy in the office. And on Friday night – though I felt exhausted – I woke up at 3 a.m. on the dot. Just like old times. I'd forgotten how debilitating it was.
That's the last time EVER that I put work before my fitness regime. Ever. It's not worth it. If you can't sleep nothing feels right. And there's also evidence that if you don't get enough sleep, it contributes to weight gain. SO. Case proved. Ditch the pills and get walking, overweight insomniacs everywhere – it really works!
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