Sleep Diaries Hero

“How long should it take me to fall asleep?” A sleep expert answers your questions

Posted by for Sleep

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 27-year-old estate agent reveals the daily routine which helps her to fall asleep quickly at night.

A little about me:

Age: 27

Occupation: estate agent

Number of hours sleep you get each night: 8 hours

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

Do you track your sleep? Yes, with a Fitbit – but I don’t really pay attention to it

How much water do you drink on average per week: 3 litres a day

How much exercise do you do on average per week: I go running 4 times a week

Day 1

I wake up at the same time each day – 6am – as I’ve heard it helps regulate sleep rhythms. I get dressed and go for a jog so I don’t put it off. When I get back, I have some eggs on toast before showering and getting ready for work.

It’s a morning of phone calls and admin. I have lunch around 1pm (chicken salad) and spend the second half of the day out on viewings. I head home at 6pm, do a little light yoga, then have a puy lentil and grilled vegetable bowl for dinner.

Afterwards, I have a warm bath and a milky drink, before slipping into my PJs and getting into bed for 10pm. I’m asleep within 15 minutes, and don’t wake until morning.

A warm bath
“I have a warm bath and a milky drink, before slipping into my PJs and getting into bed for 10pm.”

Day 2

I’m up at 6am again, have a smoothie bowl and watch TV for a bit before walking to work.

Again, it’s an admin-heavy morning and a viewing-filled afternoon; I make sure to have a proper lunch, though, and treat myself to a grilled cheese toastie in the park.

I head to the gym around 7pm with my friend, where we do a Clubbercise class together before grabbing salads in the restaurant next door. When I get home, I have a warm shower and a milky drink, then get into bed at 10pm. Again, I’m asleep in 15 minutes, and don’t wake until morning!

Day 3

I’m up at 6am and head out early to meet a colleague for breakfast; we have a proper fry up with lots of tea and it’s amazing.

Work is busy but I make time for a salad pot at lunch, and then I get changed in the office toilet around 5pm as I have a date tonight. He meets me at a pub nearby where we have a drink (just coke for me), and then we walk to a Thai place nearby for dinner.

He drops me home around 9.30pm, kisses me goodbye, and arranges to see me again. I head in, shower, and hop into bed quickly so I can Whatsapp my friends about how the date went – I think it went well!

I forgo the milky drink but still fall asleep around 10.15pm. I guess I have a gift!

Day 4

I’m up at 6am, head out for a jog, then grab a plate of scrambled eggs on toast when I get home.

Work is a busy day (I still go for a walk at lunch and have a beanie wrap), and I’m excited to get home and snuggle up on the couch – I just want to binge some TV and rest! I have a big bowl of spag bol on my lap, and a chocolate bar, too. Bliss.

I have a bath and a milky drink, climb into bed at 10pm, and am asleep within 15 minutes. 

Sofa with a blanket
“I’m excited to get home and snuggle up on the couch – I just want to binge some TV and rest!”

Day 5

I wake up at 6am feeling happy, as there’s a message from my date from earlier in the week to read. He wants to meet up again for the cinema soon!

I have a quick breakfast of salmon and cream cheese on toast, head into work, and bore everyone with stories about how I might have met the love of my life. It’s a quiet day, so we all go out to the pub for lunch and have big fish finger sandwiches and proper pub chips (and fizzy drinks, too!).

We sort of pretend to work until 4pm, then we all head home early. I meet up with some friends for Clubbercise and salad (and maybe a white wine!). We stay out and chat and giggle until late, but I still manage to get into bed by 10pm. Yes, I’m asleep within 15 minutes!

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

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep expert and professional physiologist, says: “Your routines and habits really are the perfect set up for good sleep. You’re usually in bed and up in the morning at the same sort of times, you have an enviably good exercise routine and your nutrition is great too. I particularly approve of your post-run high protein breakfasts

“You fall asleep usually within 15 minutes which is also good. The time taken to fall asleep is called the sleep onset latency. Ideally, it needs to be around 15 minutes. If it’s much less than this it could be an indication that you’re too fatigued when you actually get into bed.”

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan Stylist's sleep expert
Sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan

Dr Nerina continues: “In this case, you might need to pay more attention to other aspects of your lifestyle – nutrition, hydration, exercise etc – or simply get to bed sooner. If it’s longer than this, then you probably need to work on your sleep habits and wind down routines – I would recommend taking a look at my 5 non-negotiables for good sleep.

“She measures her sleep but doesn’t get too fixated by the data, which is good. The best measure of how well you are sleeping is how you feel in the morning and throughout the day.”

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If you would like to take part in Stylist’s Sleep Diaries, please email us at 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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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

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