LAST Sunday brought an extra hour in bed. That was welcome news. I can sleep for England in the morning. It’s getting to sleep on a night that I have difficulty with. About 11pm, which is my usual bedtime, I feel wide awake. I could spring out of bed and carry on, and sometimes I do - going downstairs to do mundane tasks like washing up, ironing or checking bank statements.

Even on days when I’ve been up since 6am I feel like this, and there is little I can do to remedy it.

Who said counting sheep sent people to sleep? It doesn’t. After half an hour and 8,000 of them, I grew so bored I threw in a few rare breeds. But even the lovely faces of the Oxford Down, Leicester Longwool and Norfolk Horn failed to induce slumber.

At work, I am bombarded with emailed tips as to how to get a good night’s sleep. This week’s, from a Harley Street hypnotherapist, include rolling your eyes upwards to simulate the same movement you experience in sleep. “If you do this three times you will automatically feel yourself going into a deeper relaxation,” it says.

This didn’t work, but it answered one question: my teenage daughters were forever rolling their eyes - no wonder they were always so laid-back.

Insomnia is common, affecting about 30 per cent of UK adults, particularly the over 50s. One study shows that the vibrations of humming can relax you. But my husband certainly wouldn’t welcome it.

Sharing a bed is part of my problem. Reading in bed is one of life’s simple pleasures and helps bring on drowsiness. I would read every night if I could, but my husband operates a prison-like regime, with lights out as soon as he hits the pillow.

I was interested to read this week how TV chef Nigella Lawson sleeps in two-hour bursts. In between, she gets up and makes tea, before going back to sleep for another two hours.

This goes against the belief that a straight eight hours is best, but prior to the late 1600s, our ancestors slept in four-hour chunks, doing chores, eating, praying and even visiting neighbours in between. This would only work for someone who goes to sleep instantly, and I don’t.

This month came the news that scientists have discovered a “sleep switch” that may be vital to a decent night’s shut eye. Academics at Harvard University have reportedly identified neurons that can turn the brain off so the body can sleep. A cluster of cells becomes activated as we are nodding off, sending a signal that it is time to slumber. But how do you reach the nodding off stage? Finding the right position, finding a cool patch of pillow, repositioning the cat…nothing works. The switch can also be triggered by warmth, the study found. “This is why people need to curl up under a blanket to get to sleep.”

Separate research, by the University of Sydney, found that people who wear woolly pyjamas fall asleep more quickly and sleep longer than those wearing cotton or polyester.

Clearly they failed to include menopausal women, who would rather sleep on an iceberg than slip under blankets wearing wool.

I am through the worst, but still find I am having to fling the covers off a couple of times during the night due to overheating.

The most disturbing advice comes from the Global Council on Brain Health who say if the over 50s want a good night’s sleep they should not have tea or coffee after midday.

Give up tea? Afternoon and evening tea? I’d rather have no sleep at all.