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Why Can’t We Sleep?

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Mad Cow Disease: The Great British Beef Scandal

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Every night as she goes to sleep, Rhianwen Gilmore fears night terrors. She frequently wakes up shaking and shrieking, gripped by nightmare visions.

Her most ghastly recurring dream, she told a one-off investigation called Why Can’t We Sleep? (ITV), is that a bearded Victorian villain is standing at the end of her bed, in a cloak and top hat.

But there’s nothing funny about insomnia, a message this show hammered home. 

The director must have had a stop-motion camera for Christmas, because these jerky interludes popped up everywhere. We even waited patiently as a 51-year-old lady named Deborah sat and knitted on a sofa for 12 hours, while she took part in a sleep-deprivation experiment

The director must have had a stop-motion camera for Christmas, because these jerky interludes popped up everywhere. We even waited patiently as a 51-year-old lady named Deborah sat and knitted on a sofa for 12 hours, while she took part in a sleep-deprivation experiment

Going 24 hours without shut-eye has the same catastrophic effect on your reactions as four shots of vodka. Tiredness is thought to be the cause of up to 25 per cent of serious road accidents.

With such important and inadequately understood science to discuss, it’s a pity this low-budget doc was so flimsy. The best advice it had is that we should avoid checking our work emails at bedtime and lay off the caffeine.

You could try signing up for a course of ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ (CBT) but the voice-over warned that you’d probably be wasting your time — in most places, there’s no public funding.

We met Emma, a 37-year-old Scouser who suffered from ‘hyperarousal’, a dubious medical term for being worked up all the time. She spent all night twitching and fidgeting in bed, a fact established by a time-lapse sequence of her trying to get to sleep.

The director must have had a stop-motion camera for Christmas, because these jerky interludes popped up everywhere. We even waited patiently as a 51-year-old lady named Deborah sat and knitted on a sofa for 12 hours, while she took part in a sleep-deprivation experiment.

Deborah seemed very nice,

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