ISLAMABAD: The phone on my pillow says it is 3am. I have no new emails. No new texts. I lie on my back, desperate to nod back to sleep, but instead panicked thoughts begin to ping around my mind.
 
By 5am I am still lying awake. I have resisted the temptation to wander to the fridge or the bathroom - an admission of defeat - but my shoulders ache, my eyeballs itch and my stomach appears to be tumble-drying razor wire.
 
Moments later, fingers of sunlight creep through the shutters and, worse, the birds begin their morning sing-a-long.
 
When my alarm finally trumpets at 6.30am, I retreat beneath the duvet and vent a wounded hiss.
 
Welcome to my average morning. For the past eight months, I have been struggling to have a full night's sleep.
 
I have no problems with the beginning part. Ten minutes into Newsnight and I usually pass out. But almost without fail, my demons materialise between three and four in the morning.
 
I am single. I have a double bed. I have no squealing children, only a dog who stays with me at weekends. So why am I suffering from insomnia?
 
And it's not just me. About 25 per cent of Britons suffer some form of sleeplessness. A recent survey that focused on professionals aged 18 to 60 discovered that on average 46 per cent were getting only five to six hours per night when we should all be aiming for at least seven to eight.
 
My insomnia kicked in some time after the New Year. I had a particularly stressful Sunday at work writing a newspaper column and felt strung out and fidgety. I wasn't happy with what I'd written and kept waking in the middle of the night.
 
Since then, I've woken up at 3am as often as four times a week and found getting back to sleep a struggle. I've tried lavender oil, camomile tea and hot milky drinks.
 
I even tried boiling up a revolting potion recommended by the local hippy health shop that included valerian root, a herbal remedy for anxiety.
 
Dr Guy Meadows, above, is one of Britain's leading sleep physiologists and is used by corporate giants such as Unilever and Price Waterhouse Cooper to ensure an efficient and well-rested workforce
 
But I refuse to take prescription drugs - I've had enough trouble weaning myself off cigarettes and Haribo sweets in the past -and before you ask, I will never, ever own a machine that emits whale noises.
 
By the time my editor suggests I meet Dr Guy Meadows, one of Britain's leading sleep physiologists, I am desperate.
 
Dr Meadows is the founder of London's Sleep School and clinical director of Sleep To Perform, a course aimed at helping people excel in stressful jobs by improving their shut-eye.
 
He is so well-regarded that a long list of corporate giants including Unilever and Price Waterhouse Cooper regularly send him their frazzled employees in a bid to ensure a more efficient workforce.
 
 When we're sleep deprived, we go into immuno-suppression, making us less able to fight off illnesses
 
'For the first time in history, we work longer than we sleep,' says Dr Meadows. 'While we are working later, we get home and still want some sort of social time.
 
'So we're up longer, watching a box set, even though we have to get up at the same time. That means less sleep - the most powerful performance enhancer in the world.' Indeed. Last week, a study revealed that people getting less than six hours each night were more susceptible to coughs and colds.
 
When we're sleep deprived, we go into immuno-suppression, making us less able to fight off illnesses.
 
Also at risk are our waistlines. The celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, 40, recently blamed all those spare tyres he's been carrying around on a poor sleep regimen - he once survived on three-and-a-half hours a night. Now he goes to bed no later than 10pm.