Clare Pooley, author of The Sober Diaries, shares how going alcohol-free transformed her sleep. 

Do you have problems sleeping?

Do you find that you get to sleep easily enough, but then you wake up at around 3am tossing and turning and unable to drop off again until about ten minutes before your alarm goes off? If so, you probably blamed your insomnia on the stresses and strains of modern life. I certainly did. I tried everything to cure my lack of sleep - relaxation and meditation, exercise, aromatherapy pillows and various over-the-counter remedies, but nothing worked.

Then I quit drinking and, within a few days, I was sleeping like a baby and bouncing out of bed in the mornings like the Duracell bunny.

There are several reasons why alcohol has a terrible effect on our sleep.

1. You don't sleep deeply

Though alcohol initially helps you fall asleep (which is why I missed the ends of movies for years), as the alcohol wears off you move out of deep sleep and into REM sleep, which is much lighter and easier to wake from.

2. Toxins

Your body has to work hard overnight to process all those toxins in alcohol, which interferes with the quality of your sleep, causing all that tossing, turning and restlessness.

3. Alcohol is a diuretic

Alcohol is also a diuretic, so after a few drinks you're likely to wake up in the night sweating buckets, desperately thirsty and needing a wee.

The impacts of lack of sleep

The problem with all this lack of sleep isn't just that it makes us feel a bit snoozy the next day, it affects everything - our relationships, our careers, our creativity and our health.

Lack of sleep is directly correlated to an increased incidence of breast and colon cancer, and of heart problems. In the days after the clocks spring forward an hour in March, there is a noticeable increase in reported heart attacks and road accidents.

Sleep deprivation was deemed to be 'a significant factor' in the Exxon Valdez wreck and the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle. Now, we may not be in charge of a space programme, but you know how lack of sleep makes you unproductive, irritable and more likely to make mistakes.

"I'm not alone in finding that great sleep can transform your life"

Of all the benefits being sober brings, for me, getting lots of (great quality) sleep has been one of the best. It's made me healthier, happier, more creative and has even made me look better (no more eye bags and dull, tired skin).

It turns out that I'm not alone in finding that great sleep can transform your life. A recent survey by the National Centre for Social Research found that quality of sleep has by far the strongest association with wellbeing among those elements of our lifestyle that we can control. Regularly getting a good nights sleep makes us happier than a fifty percent pay rise, spicing up our sex lives or socialising with friends and family.

BUT, be warned, when you first quit you may find getting to sleep tricky. Don't worry, that'll pass. If you're still having problems dropping off after a few days, try taking a magnesium supplement at bedtime.

So, sleep well my friends, and enjoy that virtual fifty percent pay rise...

To read more about Clare Pooley's first year sober, and how quitting alcohol changed her life, buy her book - The Sober Diaries. It's fabulous bed time reading!