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Welcome to Stylist’s Sleep Diaries, where we’re taking a deep-dive into one of the most important (and elusive) factors in our day-to-day lives: sleep. To help us understand more about it, we’re inviting women to track their bedtime routines over a five-day period – and presenting these diaries to sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan for analysis.  

In this week’s Sleep Diaries, a 48-year-old working mum wonders why the amount of time she spends asleep varies so much.

A little about me:

Age: 48

Occupation: freelance HR consultant

Number of hours sleep you get each night: it really varies – anywhere from 4-9 hours

Number of hours sleep you wish you got each night: 7-8 hours

Do you grind your teeth/have nightmares: I grind my teeth – I wear a specially made mouthguard from my dentist

How much water do you drink on average per day: around 2-3 litres

How much exercise do you do on average per week: 3-5 times per week – it varies between HIIT, walking and yoga

Day 1

I have a relaxing day – a picnic with my daughter’s new classmates before a burger in the garden with my Mum and family at 6.30pm. I watch some TV once the kids are in bed and turn my phone off around 30 minutes before I go upstairs and turn in. I get to bed around 9:50pm after a busy weekend.

I use my Rescue Remedy Night Spray and lavender pillow spray (Deep Sleep by This Works) and sleep pretty well – maybe 7 hours in total, with one toilet trip. 

Sleep Diaries: “My husband starts snoring so I go to the spare room.”

Day 2

I have a busy day ferrying my children to various things. One of them has friends over for an early evening BBQ, and we eat the same chicken kebabs, sausages and salads they have at around 6pm. 

I chase the children into bed before school the next day and then read for a while – I need to finish my book club book!

I get into bed around 10:20pm but struggle to switch my mind off – it’s back to school and work tomorrow, daughters have overnight stays with school, my husband is going away for the weekend and I’ve got several hockey fixtures and training sessions to navigate solo at the weekend. 

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My husband also starts snoring so I go to the spare room with my pillow and glass of water. I don’t get to sleep before midnight and wake several times throughout the night, where to buy generic proscar nz no prescription too. My alarm goes off at 6am ready for a full-on day.

Day 3     

I have another busy day and don’t feel too bad after a pretty dreadful night’s sleep. I have a two hour drive to client meetings and then another 2 hour drive back (plus extra time for traffic), and when I’m back I sit down with my youngest to hear how their first day has gone.

I have a gin and tonic with my husband and eat homemade prawn curry for supper before watching some of a 9/11 documentary and heading to bed at 10:20pm. Again, I make sure to turn my phone off for a good 30 minutes before lights out. After my bad night last night and a long and stressful day, I decide to take Nytol to help me drop off.

Sleep Diaries: “I make sure to turn my phone off for a good 30 minutes before lights out.”

However, my husband starts snoring again and while I get to sleep initially the sound wakes me up at 12:20am so I decamp to the spare room at midnight and sleep pretty well after that. My alarm goes off at 6:20am and I’m still fast asleep – I have around five and a half hours sleep in total.

Day 4

My energy levels aren’t too bad today. I’m not working so I get a haircut, have a coffee with a friend and do some admin jobs around the home. I also help my little one get sorted for her residential trip before going out for dinner with some of the local school mums – I drive there and have garlic prawns, chicken with skinny fries and one glass of wine.

I’m home by 11:40pm and head to bed shortly after that. I go to sleep in the spare room so I don’t disturb my husband. It takes a little while to drop off but I actually sleep pretty well until my alarm goes off at 6:20am. I got around six and a half hours sleep. 

Day 5

I feel utterly shattered until I jump in the shower but then I perk up and have a productive day. I have some dental work done in the morning and then do two work interviews online in the afternoon. I also have a load of work to catch up on.

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Like every day, I try to limit my caffeine intake – I usually have two milky teas, one coffee (although not every day) and one coke zero per day.

I make supper (chicken hoisin wraps) and watch Grey’s Anatomy with my eldest daughter. I head to bed at 9:45 and read for about 30 mins before putting the light out. I sleep soundly until 2:40am and am then awake again for about 75 minutes before dropping off. Once again I sleep through until my alarm goes off at 6:20am, so I get a good seven hours sleep. 

So, what does it all mean? A sleep expert offers her thoughts

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep expert and professional physiologist, says: “You’re clearly a very busy working mum and, as such, need every trick in the book. I feel like you’re a perfectionist – the teeth grinding and monitoring of hours of sleep are tell-tale signs.

“I want you to relax your grip on monitoring the hours of sleep you think you’re getting. It’s not helpful and it’s inaccurate – we can think we’re awake during the night but physiologically we’re more asleep than we think. You need to notice that you sometimes feel pretty good even when you supposedly haven’t slept well. That’s the odd thing about sleep – perception isn’t always reality.

Sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan

Dr Nerina continues: “I can tell that you’ve got a lot on your plate, but you need to try and relax your grip on life in general – to try and lean back and relax, even when you’re going about your busy day. Learning a breathing technique could be really helpful for you when you’re rushing from one activity to the next or even sitting in traffic.

“You also need to (at least) halve your caffeine intake, with no caffeine after 2pm.”

If you would like to take part in Stylist’s Sleep Diaries, please email us at [email protected] with ‘SLEEP DIARIES’ as the subject. We look forward to hearing from you.

Lead image design: Ami O’Callaghan

Images: Getty

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