Sleep Pink: In Bed with Ronan Keating

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For the fifth year running, Harvey Norman has teamed up with the Marie Keating Foundation to raise much needed funds for vital services and increase awareness of breast cancer. To date, Harvey Norman has raised over €100,000 for the Marie Keating Foundation, whose goal is to make cancer less frightening by enlightening.

You can take part this October, by purchasing from the Sleep Pink range, donating a euro at the till or visiting the mobile information units at Harvey Norman stores throughout the month.

We caught up with Ronan Keating to talk married life and his work with the Marie Keating Foundation

Hi Ronan, first of all, congratulations on your wedding to Storm. What else have you been up to since we caught up last year?
Thanks a million! It feels amazing to call Storm my wife and we are both so happy. Obviously getting engaged and getting married has made up a massive part of the last 12 months, but we have also been so busy doing other things. I was in the West End production of Once, which was an incredible experience and has inspired me to get back into my songwriting and working on a new album. I’ve also been on tour in Asia with Boyzone and have hosted a number of charity events whenever I can also. Storm has been setting up a new company and collaborating with different brands on some exciting new projects, while also trying to plan a wedding and manage the expansion of our coffee company, Grind. So all in all it’s been a really hectic year for us but a brilliant one. Feeling like I’m exactly where I should be and getting to spend lots of quality time with the kids and our families too. I’ve never felt so genuinely grounded and happy… a good woman does that to you.

You recently starred as Guy in the West End production of Once. How was that experience and can we look forward to seeing you in more acting roles?
Playing Guy in Once was the most amazing experience. It was totally different from all the shows I’ve done in the past and I’ll openly admit, I have never been more nervous about a performance in my whole life. I was a total mess on opening night! You are really exposed up there on stage – there’s nowhere to hide – just you, your guitar, your voice and your character. It was liberating and I loved it.
I had never really considered doing West End before but because Once was more like a play with really amazing songs and a beautiful storyline, I was excited by the challenge. I’ve always loved acting and it’s a skill I’ve always wanted to spend some more time crafting but it was hard because my first love (music) already took up so much of my time and then when you’ve got a family, you have responsibilities and bills to pay…you’re less likely to put yourself first and take risks that may or may not pay off. Plus if I was truly honest I would never have felt confident enough in the past to take that sort of risk before – Storm’s the one who helped me see life and the world in a totally different way. She gave me a confidence that I’ve never known before and the permission to chase something I’ve always wated to chase. It was her belief and encouragement that made me go for it and thank god I did. It was the greatest creative experience I’ve ever had to date and I’ve grown so much as an actor as well as musician and songwriter. The fact that it was so well received on top of everything else, was so overwhelming… I’ve never felt anything like it. The hard work & sacrifices certainly paid off.
In many ways I feel like I’m now ready to write the best music I’ve ever written and give the most honest performances of my life.

With presenting, recording, acting and touring, how do you find the right work/rest balance?
I think it’s like any busy job- you always have a million and one things going on and loads of emails and texts to get to but you have to remind yourself to switch off. Storm is great at allowing me the time to ‘switch off’ because she’s constantly juggling my workload with her own. Problem is now I’m always the one trying to get her to switch off haha. I’ve never had this kind of support before – we’re a real team – and because she’s always putting our family & friends first, it’s brought me closer to all my loved ones. Everyone knows I’ve always been super tight with my kids and I always will be, but I haven’t felt this close to my family & friends in many years. It’s a very special time in my life and I’ve never been more content. Finally everything works around me and I’m free to be myself – not just Ronan Keating the pop star. I don’t have to pretend to be happy – I really am. That’s what life is all about.

As October is Sleep Pink Month with Harvey Norman, tell us your tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
I definitely find that when I exercise I sleep way better and even though our lifestyle doesn’t allow us to get to the gym very often, we are always on the go burning energy in the same way a big jog would. Even when we’ve got a day off at home, we spend the day running around the house and garden cleaning everything because we enjoy maintaining our home ourselves rather than hiring staff to come in a do it for us. So one tip from me would be to keep active – running around and doing chores helps burn energy in the similar way that a treadmill will, so if you can’t get to the gym maybe try being more active at home instead.
Another tip would be to hold off on caffeine late in the afternoon or evening. Storm and I love GOOD coffee- we even had our own coffee company set up a little ‘Grind Café’ stall at our wedding! But we do try to only limit it to one a day and wouldn’t have it too late in the afternoon otherwise we’ll be tossing and turning all night. Everyone has different tolerances to caffeine, it’s just about working out what yours is and trying to avoid passing your caffeine curfew.
I imagine my final tip most people can relate too because it involves the phone and modern day technology. They say computers and phones are bad before bedtime and I do notice the difference when I’m not on them. I’ll admit I can be really bad for checking my phone before going to bed – it’s so easy to do. But Storm & I are trying to do that less and less these days. We’ve reverted to reading a book or magazine instead and you really can feel the difference.

How does lack of sleep affect you?
There’s been periods in my career where I’ve got very used to getting by with very little sleep. Sometimes I didn’t even know how I was doing it. There were days when I’d be coming off stage, doing interviews and meeting fans, getting back to the hotel at 3am and then hitting the road again at 6am for a TV appearance. It was all a bit mad but you somehow got used to being tired and the adrenalin would get you through. Even today I can easily fall into this routine after 21 years of practice, but I know it’s not great on my physical or emotional state so I try to avoid it as much as possible. The first thing I notice is my skin, it goes a dull greyish colour and I’m definitley more more prone to headaches or aching muscles. My ability to make decisions is terrible and also to process stuff that might be going on around me – sleep deprivation can always make something feel a million times worse than it really is. When I first met Storm she would always prescribe sleep to me if I was annoyed or upset about something… she’d say ‘things are always better after a good nights rest’ and she was always right. Sleep should be a priority for everyone because it allows you focus and to tackle the world in a more positive and clear minded way.

If you could wake up anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Wow, good question. As a newlywed, I have to go for the easy answer here and say that I would happily wake up anywhere as long as Storm was with me. We’ve been really blessed to go to some amazing places together but if I had to pick my favourite, it would be Thailand or Africa because Thailand reminds me of the morning I proposed to Storm and then Africa is where we went on safari for our honeymoon – it’s out of this world. If I could turn back time and THEN wake up… then I’d say Archerfield in Scotland (where we got married) because I could relive our magical wedding day. I really wish I could do it all over again because it was hands down the best & happiest day of my life. To see the kids and all our family & friends having the time of their lives celebrating our official union was incredible. I’ve never known so much love and happiness in one place before… money can’t buy that. If only…

Talk to us about your role in the Marie Keating Foundation and the work you’ve done this last year.
I’m a founding member and patron of the Marie Keating Foundation and it’s something that is extremely close to my heart. My siblings and I set up the charity in my mam’s name after she passed away from cancer in 1998. She was only 51. We were obviously devastated and wanted to do everything we could do make sure other families didn’t have to go through the same pain. Over the past year, the Foundation has been busier than ever. Last October, we launched the first Bras for Breast Cancer appeal and we were amazed and so grateful when women all over the country donated over 40,000 bras in Harvey Norman stores, beauticians, shopping centres, collages and businesses. We’re hoping to get even more this year! We were overwhelmed by people’s support again in January when we were asking people to support the Foundation by doing a simple act of kindness for a friend or stranger and then donating to MKF online or on social media as part of Electric Ireland’s Powering Kindness Week. Thanks to everyone’s amazing kindness, they helped us raise €40,000 for the Foundation. Storm and I were over in July for our annual celebrity golf event which is kindly sponsored by M&S, and that raised over €50,000 for services like our mobile information units which travel all around Ireland giving free information on cancer prevention and early detection.

How can people get involved with the Marie Keating Foundation?
There are so many ways that people can get involved. Just this October, you can give your Bra for Breast Cancer at over 100 places nationwide, including Harvey Norman stores. For every bra that the Foundation receives, Roche is kindly donating €1. There are also a number of breast cancer seminars taking place all around the country for women affected by breast cancer and their loved ones. These are free and will have talks from consultants, cancer survivors and mindfulness experts and you can register at mariekeating.ie. There is also the Pigsback 5k and 10k Run taking place in the Phoenix Park on Sunday, 11 October and you can also register for this on the Marie Keating Foundation’s website. Throughout the year, the Foundation is always holding runs and walks that you can take part in, bag packs that we need volunteers for as well as lunches you can attend. We need people to hold bake sales, BBQs, movie nights and Zumbathons and all those amazing local events that help us to keep the Foundation going. You can also get in touch if you would like one of the Foundation’s nurses to come visit your community, office, school or shop to give a free talk about cancer as prevention and early detection are at the core of what we do.

Quick Fire Sleep Round
• Nap or no nap? If only there was time for a nap
• PJ’s or boxers? Neither
• Firm or soft? I’m a softy
• Phone on or off? Flight mode
• Early bird or night owl? Night owl by occupational hazard
• Snooze button or straight up? snooze & snuggles
• Memory foam or feather? lots of feathers
• Big spoon or little spoon? Big spoon all the way
• Music on or off? Off to sleep but on for everything else

Shop the Harvey Norman Sleep Pink Sale this month and support the Marie Keating Foundation! Find out more here.

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