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HOW did you sleep last night? And when was the last time you or someone else asked the question? New research shows us Brits aren't too good at shut-eye of late. We can do over-working, but when it comes to switching off at the end of a busy day, we're useless.

This week we've looked at sleep, why we're finding it so hard to do it properly, and what we can do to get a better night.

At this time of the year, it's even more of a struggle.

Wayne Rooney can apparently only do it (ooer, and this is all-yearround) to the sound of a hoover, a fan, or even a hairdryer.

The soothing sound of a fan in summer is nice, and can send most of us into a lull, though it's not great for the environment or our electricity bills.

But I can admit to some even stranger sleep behaviour than the England striker.

Sleep's a funny old thing, and I've had some crazy times during that supposedly peaceful time. When I tell people about it, they look at me with a worried look, but please don't be scared.

For years, I'd "wake" to find things in my room that weren't really there - people, cats, you name it, they'd all join my bedroom party, usually just standing there staring at me.

Often I'd leap out of bed, thoroughly confused about where, and on one particularly scary occasion, who I was.

When I was a teenager and had started a new job for example, I'd be sat up in my duvet, folding imaginary clothes. Once, and I promise I hadn't been drinking, I walked to the other end of my room and sat down, convinced imaginary people were "renting" out my bed and my time was up. Apparently it's called a hypnagogic hallucination (if it happens as you're going to sleep) and a hypnopompic hallucination if Sleep's a funny old it happens as you're waking. It can happen to me at any time and while unusual, I'm not alone.

thing and had some crazy times A friend of mine experiences it weekly - her boyfriend's used to her turning to him and asking him to let in the dog who's been talking to her from outside the window.

And another friend reported it's plagued her husband since they met - more disruptive than snoring - with his hallucinations getting worse.

It hasn't happened to me in ages but it does return when I'm over-tired or stressed.

While not everyone reading this will identify with my dream-like loopiness, many of you have probably longed for a better sleep, often for that reason.

Sleep, like breakfast, can determine how we spend the rest of the day so it would be good if we could get it right more often.

We can't guarantee you an undisturbed eight hours for the rest of your life, but with our expert tips, let's hope for at least a few more decent kips this summer.

COVER: COVER: Hat, pounds 15, cardigan, pounds 38, dress, pounds 32, shoes, pounds 45, all at Miss Selfridge, contacts Editor: Claire Rees Write to us: WM, Media Wales, Six Park Street, Cardiff, CF10 1XR Email us: Call us: 029 2024 3778
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 13, 2010
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