AN insomnia sufferer who went four years without having a night’s sleep is now helping others overcome the condition that plagued her life.

Carol Hickson, 54, from The Crescent, Northwich, found herself suffering from extreme stress when her dad and partner both passed away in quick succession.

The mother-of-three, who has previously lived in Winsford and Middlewich, then fell ill with the flu and slowly developed insomnia. After eight weeks she had recovered from the flu, but her sleepless nights would continue for four years.

“At its worst, I was getting 56 minutes a night,” Carol said. “I lost the ability to yawn or nap no matter how exhausted I was – it was like the off switch in my brain was broken. I would just sit upright in bed, wishing I could get to sleep. I’d start getting anxiety attacks in the middle of night. One time I ended up at the hospital because the heart palpitations were so severe, I was convinced, I was having a heart attack.

“I remember reading an article about a lady who had suffered from insomnia for 21 years and I sat and I wept.

“I thought ‘is that it? Is that what my life is going to be from now on?’ Because when you’re getting 56 minutes a night, you don’t really have a life.”

She had been prescribed different medications by her GP, which she says helped her claw back an hour or two here and there, but never provided a long-term fix.

When she was involved in a car crash as a passenger at Christmas time last year, she had exhausted all professional medical help.

But being forced to take time off work as a language teacher due to the accident causing severe whiplash, she was presented with more time to tackle her insomnia.

“By that time, I was absolutely desperate,” Carol said. “I just decided that I was going to use that time to really research alternative therapies and overcome my insomnia once and for all.”

It was a combination of mindfulness, emotional freedom techniques (or tapping), and Reiki, that eventually helped Carol to overcome the condition.

Carol said: “Insomnia is a symptom of problems with roots that often have high emotional intensity. Even physical issues often have an emotional charge. In my case, there was chronic back pain, and strong medication prescribed for my back probably affected my sleep pattern, as well as close bereavements, work-place stress and the stress of studying for my degree.

“It just built to a level like a swimming pool full of beach balls and there came a point when there was no room for any more input. The brain is exhausted and something has to give, often sleep.”

After recovering from chronic insomnia, Carol never went back to work in her job as a teacher.

Instead, she has now set out on her mission to help other people who are going through what she went through.

Her message is to work with the medical profession, but do not ‘lose control’ and explore other therapies that could find the root of the problem.

“I made a promise to myself that when I got rid of this horrible illness, I would help other people,” she said.

“I set up a website where I could put my experiences and advice and hopefully offer some help to people who are desperate like I was.

“I’ve now retrained as an EFT therapist, hypnotherapist, life coach, mindfulness teacher and Reiki practitioner and have just been accepted by Anxiety UK as a volunteer hypnotherapist.

“I’m hoping that I can use my experience to help others get back on top.” To find out more go to her website