Sarah Hall

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I’ll be adding another year on this weekend, which is a terrible state of affairs when you get to my advanced age.

Tragically, I have now officially got to that stage where if I sit on the floor – or any comfy chair that’s a bit too low for that matter – I make an involuntary, strange groaning noise as I force myself upright.

There’s not even any real reason for doing that, it’s not like I’m completely decrepit. My legs still work, my back’s not given out. It’s not so bad when I’m sat at home but I did it in on a train the other day and it was all a bit embarrassing.

I think it must be something that automatically happens when you hit a certain age. Like watching The One Show and finding one of the segments quite interesting (there was a fascinating piece about cauliflowers the other week, don’t know if any of you saw it).

Something else that appears to happen is bouts of paranoia, in my case that I’m about to fall apart because surely my major organs can’t have got this far in one piece?

The other morning I was woken in the early hours by a searing pain in my side. I was convinced something quite unacceptable was happening to...what? What’s around there anyway, your kidneys? Wouldn’t surprise me if they were the first to go.

As it turns out I’d fallen asleep listening to an audio book and the discomfort I was feeling was being caused by lying on my iPod. Let this be a warning – Stephen Fry’s calming voice may be quite soporific but it can also lead to brief medical panics.

But drifting off to sleep may not prove so easy now I know that a bad’s night kip can lead to heart failure.

Generally I have no problem in this department – the fact that it’s taken me a week to get through one chapter of Stephen’s book is testament to this, I’m normally out like a light within minutes.

But how many people now will have trouble dropping off and think it’s probably going to kill them, thus putting even more strain on their health by getting all stressy about it?

If memory serves me correct (and that’s another thing that’s going a bit) I read something else a while back that said people who have too much sleep die younger than those who only have a few hours a night.

So too little is potentially fatal, too much and you’ve also had it. Well what’s the right amount then? I’m now confused as to whether I’m getting my adequate, life-saving quota and being rudely awaken by electronic gadgets is obviously not helping the situation.

Even if I am spending the right amount of time asleep I’m probably doing myself horrific damage by having a glass of wine from time to time because where this week it’s sleep (or the lack of it) killing us last week it was the booze.

Because, according to some nonsensical data nobody can make head nor tail of, every non teetotaller in the country is a serial binge drinker who is too ashamed/embarrassed/drunk to own up to how much alcohol they get through during the week.

The explanation behind this one is obvious. Binge drinking immediately makes people think of late night ITV programmes where overly tanned and under dressed northerners (it’s always northerners) are shown rolling around in the street and vomiting on policemen.

None of us want to be associated with this sort of carry on, do we?

But technically binge drinking is more than two glasses so anyone enjoying a relaxing Friday night bottle of wine is put in the same category and I – I mean they – won’t be having that, so nobody will admit to drinking more than half a shandy a month for fear of being tarred with the same bottle of cheap cider.

Anyway, if you really want to see how much people drink there’s an easy way – just check their green recycling boxes. Feel free to look in mine, it’s just been emptied so the evidence has gone.

But if I were to stop drinking altogether this will also be bad for me because real science has proved that the Italians and French are in better nick than we are because they enjoy a nice glass of red with their tea. And it probably makes them sleep better.

All things considered I don’t think I’m going to allow myself to fall into the trap of starting to panic about my lifestyle choices because I am now ancient. Except for the time I gave myself a terrible shoulder injury reversing the car (really) I haven’t had to bother a doctor in years.

So I will continue to enjoy a bit of wine a couple of times a week and I will not lose any sleep over it.

Unfortunately I do have a feeling I will continue to make those groaning noises every time I haul myself out of a chair. If anyone has any ideas how to stop that I’d really like to know.