Jeremy Clarkson's account of using sleeping pills is funny AND scary

Jeremy Clarkson was wary of sleeping tablets, having had adverse reactions in the past.

British car fanatic Jeremy Clarkson can be scary enough at the best of times – after all, he’s known for boozy benders and was sacked by the ABC for abusing a producer.

But the TV star on sleeping tablets sounds like something else.

Clarkson’s written a funny but also scary account for the effects of a sleeping pill he took recently, that caused his life to fall into disarray for more at least a day. Clarkson recounted how he’d been caught a long flight and then worked long hours in the US and Canada, before jumping on another flight back to the UK, with plans to go straight from the airport to work.

So he decided to forgo his usually caution when it came to sleeping pills, having had a few poor experiences previously that left him drowsy for days.

“Being mindful of the fact that I would have to go to work after landing in Heathrow, I broke it in half and licked it gently a couple of times and . . .” he writes.

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He then tells how he got lost in the airport as he tried to exit, and argued with a passport machine that turned out to be an ATM.

“I was driven into London, where I sat at the wrong desk and wrote a long and very boring review of a car I haven’t driven for Top Gear magazine, which sacked me more than a year ago,” he goes on, in the piece for The Sun. “For lunch, I had an apple, on to which I squirted a hefty dollop of ketchup and then I went outside for a cigarette, forgetting that I’d given up. And that I didn’t have any.”

The motors expert then accepted invitations to three different parties for that evening, and promptly forgot the locations of all of them.

“And do you know what’s scary about this? I’d only licked half a pill, whereas one in ten adults in Britain are taking a whole sleeping pill EVERY NIGHT,” he writes. “Which explains why only 75 per cent of the country’s adults are in full-time work, despite the booming economy.”

As it turns out, Australians aren’t much different. According to The Conversation, 3.1 million Australians were written prescriptions for benzodiazepines – the broader name for a number of powerful sedatives – in 2010 alone. But the government’s healthdirect.com.au site warns that they require careful use because they can have serious side effects.

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Sleeping pills can also make you unsteady, dizzy and forgetful. They can make it hard for you to concentrate. You might feel groggy or tired next day. These side effects may increase your risk of having accidents and falls,” the site warns.

From that, it sounds like Clarkson’s experience might not be so unusual after all.

Have you used medication to help you sleep? Did it work for you or make you feel too groggy the next day?