Eyes wide open - Elaine Crowley on her battle with sleep

Elaine Crowley pictured at the launch of LloydsPharmacy Change Your Health Direction wellness programme, encouraging people to join her on the eight-week challenge to get back to the best of your health. Photo: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

IN our always-on lives all too often one of the first casualties is sleep. For TV presenter Elaine Crowley, it’s a constant challenge. “I have awful trouble getting to sleep. And if I wake up I can’t go back,” says the host of Virgin Media’s show, Elaine.

The nocturnal wakefulness affects all aspects of her life. “If you don’t sleep well forget about any other aspect of your life — be it weight loss, exercise, happiness.

“I didn’t sleep very well in February and my mood suffered really badly — I was getting really anxious and I was getting upset quite a lot. I was getting a bit scared.”

Determined to take charge, she’s signed up to the LloydsPharmacy Change Your Health Direction summer programme and given herself eight weeks to establish a new sleep routine. “On the advice of a pharmacist, I’m taking magnesium and zinc because I’m deficient in both. I take magnesium in the morning and at night and it’s making all the difference to my sleep.”

Aged 41, she’s also learning how to step into a parent role at bedtime. “I have to be pretty disciplined — almost like a toddler being put to bed. You have to turn off everything. Close your eyes and lie down in the dark.”

To sign up to the Change Your Health Direction programme, visit your local LloydsPharmacy store or download and print your own eight-week health diary on www.lloydspharmacy.ie

What shape are you in?

I’m currently trying to walk either to or from work every day because my cardiovascular fitness wouldn’t be great. I find cardio really, really boring. I am more of a gym weight person. The walk takes between an hour and an hour-and-a-half depending on what route I take. For want of a better phrase, my arse is killing me afterwards.

I haven’t been to the gym in a little while. I had an operation before Christmas and I was out of action for some time. I’m easing myself back into it quite nicely.

I have a couple of prolapsed discs in my lower back and that’s why I’m doing so much walking. I’m trying to avoid having to go under the knife.

What are your healthiest drinking and eating habits?

I drink a lot of water — two litres a day. I wouldn’t eat a load of takeaways. I try to cut down on my red meat and I’m very conscious of saturated fats as well. That said, I don’t eat enough greens. When I’m a bit run down I take Pharmaton. For my back, I take glucosamine, calcium and vitamin D.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I love cheese but cheese does not love me. You may as well be taking fat and slapping it on to your backside. But it’s so very lovely and delicious.

What steps are you taking to improve the environment?

I’ve stopped buying face wipes. I use face cloths instead. I’m recycling everything and I’m separating everything properly. I’m also trying to reduce my plastic. I don’t buy bottled water anymore. It’s very easy to do once you make up your mind.

How do you relax?

I’m the series producer as well as presenter of Elaine. With mobile technology and emails it’s very much 24/7. I meditate — I’ve a Headspace app which I find really, really good.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Stephen Fry, I have a little crush on Freddie Flintoff, and Billy Connolly — he’s hilarious.

What’s your favourite smell?

I love lemongrass — it reminds me of Thailand, my favourite place.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I’d like thicker hair. I have baby hair and anytime I’m stressed it falls out. I wear extensions.

When is the last time you cried?

I cry all the time.

Recently I was cleaning the kitchen and was just feeling sorry for myself — I was exhausted. I just had a little waa. I find crying can be quite cathartic.

What traits do you least like in others?

Stinginess. If you’re stingy with your money you are going to be stingy with your love, affection, your time and everything else.

What traits do you least like in yourself?

I’m very self-critical. I beat myself up quite a lot — that’s always a work in progress.

Do you pray?

No. I would have been quite religious when I was younger but I wouldn’t be an active churchgoer.

There’s something out there — although I’m not sure what it is.

What would cheer up your day?

I like hugs from people I love. A nice smile and a good hug can do wonders.

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