Can’t sleep? Then I’ve got a controversial suggestion – Jim Duffy

Do you suffer your partner’s snoring in silence for sleepless hours each night? Jim Duffy has a suggestion.

Do you suffer your partner’s snoring in silence for sleepless hours each night? Jim Duffy has a suggestion.

Here we go again ... Dry January. Get fit in eight weeks and renew the gym membership. Yes, pick up any newspaper or swipe up and down on your phone and it will not take you long to find an article on quitting the booze or losing the muffin top.

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I recall many a time I also had a go at this. As I sat with two large glasses of wine in me between Christmas and New Year, I would pontificate on how I was going to transform my body come the first week in January. But, like most of the purported five million people in the UK who are going cold turkey this week, I didn’t last the month. In fact, I predict that over half of them will fail and the tiara will slip with the immortal words: “Well, I did two weeks babe and I’m feeling great – pizza and wine tonight? My treat?”

But while reducing your intake of bevvy, getting out for more walking, jogging or gym work and cutting down on the takeaways will certainly all have a positive impact, there is one thing that we have all seem to have forgotten about that can hugely boost our progress towards health.

One element of our lives that we have taken for granted but which causes stress, increased cortisol levels, arguments and extra sick days off work.

This phenomenon is called “sleep”. And if it doesn’t happen regularly, then that can have a terrible effect on well-being, health and relationships. So, instead of running out the door to the cheap 24-hour gym, how about you re-define your sleeping habits for a healthier life?

Very unusually for me, I was invited out twice over the festive period for drinks and even a dinner party. The introverts hate this stuff, but off I trotted with my well-ironed jeans and new shirt that Santa brought me.

Interestingly, both at both events the conversation ended up focused on sleep, sleeping and sleeping arrangements. No, I didn’t use my hosts as respondents in my sleep survey, the theme just popped up.

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But, all the conversations were enlightening. And the findings were startling. I’d have to say that you may need to sit down for this as it could be that life-changing moment you have been looking for.

It seems that many of us still sleep at night in the same double bed as our partners! I was stunned. This was anathema to me. Sleeping in the same bed? I hadn’t done that for decades ... I tuned in even more to hear these sleep horror stories.

Yes, one couple slept together despite some wilderbeast-style snoring. He could be on his back, on his side or propped up with pillows and still he would snore like there was no tomorrow. Big, loud, deep, snorting snores that cause the walls to vibrate.

And his wife just lay at “her side of the bed” with her useless earplugs in, stressing about getting no sleep. I wonder just how many of us live his kind of life ... I had to find out more.

The next night, we heard more stories that were blood curdling. Yet another couple with a sleep story. This time she snored heavily and it had taken its toll in his sleep. But, this couple had put in a fix. It was a fix that they had kept private for fear of ridicule. They didn’t want the curtain twitchers to find out. Yes, they slept in separate rooms, so that they could both benefit from a good night’s sleep. And it worked a treat.

When I told them that me and my partner did the same, they looked at us misty-eyed – at last they had found freaks similar to themselves. Freaks who had taken action to keep sane, healthy and in love. But we are not alone.

A whopping 25 per cent of couples have taken the plunge and are living healthier lives, as they have actively decided not to sleep together, according to a survey by the US National Sleep Foundation.

The arrangement has reportedly been tried by celebs, presidents (including Taft, Harding, Wilson, and Trump), and even royalty. If you’ve streamed The Crown on Netflix you know that Queen Elizabeth gives Prince Philip the nightly kiss-off (of course, that might have to do with how awful he is portrayed). Add to this the small samples from my festive dinner parties and more and more people are taking a common-sense approach to sleep.

And this is good for their health, both physical and mental.

Sleep problems tend to be contagious. About a quarter of Americans say a partner’s tossing and turning keeps them up at least once a week, according to a sleep foundation study. Insomnia can also raise its ugly head in times of stress. This can worsen during pregnancy and around menopause, upsetting the delicate balance in the bedroom. It can put massive stress on relationships with one partner sleep deprived and unable to communicate this to the other for fear of causing a rift in the relationship.

So, this year perhaps rather than looking outside for fixes to your health, you may wish to examine what is going on inside – in the bedroom.

Many of us will know what poor sleep feels like. But, when this is amplified by a noisy partner then it makes us feel well below par in many areas of our lives.

My challenge to you as you get fit, sober and healthy this January is this – are you getting enough quality sleep and how bold will you be to make sure you do?