TO SLEEP perchance to...

When Shakespeare’s Hamlet is spouting his famous soliloquy he is talking about whether it is better “to be, or not to be.” He wants to know if he should choose life over eternal sleep.

Well, if you put it that way!

If, by the end of this column, you are confused and wonder how you will ever get the time back that you have wasted reading it, I apologise.

I am punch drunk from lack of sleep, trying to get a column done quickly because it is a short week and coming to terms with the fact that I am not Margaret Thatcher.

To be honest, i would normally consider that to be a good thing but then I read that she could cope with only three or four hours of sleep a night.

These days four hours sleep would be a luxury. Last night I had less than two! I need eight or 10 or an eternal sleep that doesn’t actually include death.

Sleep is a strange thing. It seems the older you are the less you sleep – unless you are my husband.

Sometimes I want to yell at him to wake up. He goes to bed, closes his eyes and that is him until morning.

He had a hacking cough recently and felt pretty miserable during the day.

The cough got worse at night but he didn’t even stir through it. It didn’t waken me either. I was already awake!

When my son was a baby, up until he was five, we could never get him to sleep at night and when he did go off he was awake before dawn.

I went to see a local production of Carousel and when they sang “When the children are sleep we’ll sit and do all the things that dads and mothers do” I felt quite teary because it seemed to me that our dear first born never closed his eyes enough for us to do anything.

In fact, when our daughter was born an insensitive neighbour asked how we’d managed to conceive her! Anyway, remove that thought from your mind and we will move on.

When I complained, people used to tell me there would come a time when I wouldn’t be able to get him our of bed. How I laughed!

Enter the teenager.

“Andrew! You are going to be late for school.”

“Andrew! It is the weekend. You can’t just lie in bed all day!”

“Andrew! Get out of bed!”

Looking back, though, we did give the child mixed messages, For half his childhood we were yelling at him to get to bed and for the second half to get out of bed.

My daughter was and is a sleeper. When she was a tiny baby we would put her in her crib and pace between her room and wherever we were roughly every five minutes. We’d stare at her for signs that she was still breathing. We didn’t know what to do with a baby who fell asleep when you put her to bed! At least with Andrew we knew he was alive and well. Mind you, so did the neighbours.

They say as you get older you don’t need so much sleep. I think they just say that to make you feel better.

I need every minute of sleep I can get. I just don’t get it.

My daughter Sarah says it is because when I wake I read. That is kind of true but I only read when all else has failed.

I started going through the alphabet naming an animal for each letter, then a country, then a town. Now I even do adverbs, adjectives and have even attempted words in Afrikaans!

I can recite the alphabet backwards without thinking and can count a thousand sheep. The latter doesn’t work often because I get distracted and lose count.

There is so much advice out there for insomnia but none of it works for me.

Maybe the only true cure is my husband’s advice: “Pretend the alarm is about to go off.”

He is right, you know. I have my soundest sleep two minutes before I am awoken by the stupid clock.