I know it's not much of a boast, but I have always been able to fall asleep with the greatest of ease. For as long as I can remember, all I had to do was my close my eyes and, no matter how lumpy the bed, loud the noise outside the tent, or bumpy the rickshaw journey, a few minutes later I'd be happily transported to the land of nod.
Of course, such narcoleptic tendencies did have their downsides. I am notorious among my friends for not being able to make it to the end of a late-night movie. Notes from my university lectures were often a touch sparse; if the speaker had a particularly mellifluous tone (or the bad sense to dim the lights), then my battle against those heavy eyelids began early. More than once I have drifted off in the theatre, almost always during a play that I'd been desperate to see, while at the end of a meal I'd happily knock back a double espresso and still be fast asleep within the hour, which would irritate my fellow diners no end.
I can only deduce that I'm now being punished for my lack of sympathy towards those who complained of having had a "bad night", or not getting a minute of sleep during a long-haul flight because, in a rather frustrating turn of events, I am no longer a steadfast sleeper.
It took me a little while to realise that the easy slumber I had taken for granted in the past was becoming increasingly elusive. Yet the evidence is plain to see. After many a night spent tossing and turning, listening out for the (many) things that go bump, I am becoming increasingly agitated by the fact that my powers seem to have deserted me. In fact, it makes me seethe.
From counting sheep, to milky drinks and hot baths before bedtime, I've experimented with plenty of tried and tested doze-inducing techniques, yet so far I remain impervious to them. A friend kindly recommended a sprinkle of lavender oil over my pillow. This proved to be spectacularly unsuccessful as I managed to knock the entire bottle over the bed and spent the night feeling somewhat intoxicated by the heady floral aroma. Soothing? I think not.
So my quest for 40 (or preferably 50 or 60) winks continues. But you know what? As I write this, sitting at my desk in the middle of the office, I'm starting to feel increasingly drowsy...