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 21-year-old freelance journalist and waitress finds out her habit of crashing as soon as she gets into bed isn’t ideal.
A little about me:
Occupation: waitress and freelance journalist
Number of hours sleep you get each night: 6.5-7.5 hours
Number of hours sleep you wish you got each night: 8 hours
Do you measure your sleep in some way (with a phone or wearable): yes
How much water do you drink on average per week: 2 litres
How much exercise do you do on average per week: 250 active minutes a week on average
I eat dinner around 7:30pm then sit and watch TV while drinking some Pepsi and sparkling water. I do a bit of online browsing for some new winter clothes and then go and make lunch for work the next day and pack my bag for the morning.
At 9:15pm I sit down with some pudding and scroll on my phone, before making my way up to my bedroom at 10pm to start my night time routine. This consists of brushing my teeth, washing my face, cleansing and moisturising as well as using mouthwash. By 10:45 I’ve done a bit more scrolling on social media and messaging my family and boyfriend to say goodnight and I turn off the lights.
It doesn’t take me long to fall asleep but my night is interrupted by a few nightmares that wake me up. I go to the toilet and then curl back down into bed but I feel like I have quite a restless night sleep, almost like I’m aware of the hours counting down before my alarm goes off at 6:25am. I don’t feel overly refreshed but I do feel ready for the day.
I finish a massive roast dinner that was absolutely gorgeous – my tummy feels full and incredibly happy. I take my evening daily vitamins of calcium and vitamin D tablets as well as hair, skin and nail gummies before tidying up after dinner.
I then make my lunch ready for work again in the morning: tomorrow’s lunch is leftover roast pork in a salad with a Sriracha dressing! I had two glasses of Pepsi with dinner and have a glass of squash while I’m making my lunch.
At 9pm I sit down with a mug of hot chocolate and some pudding which consists of a plum, a Fibre One brownie, a Bourbon biscuit and a couple of gummy sweets. I eat this while I watch some Netflix on the sofa.
At 10pm I head upstairs to do my normal night time routine before switching my lights off at 10:30pm. I fall asleep very quickly and only wake once during the night around 3am. This is quite normal and I sleep well otherwise until my alarm goes off at 5:25am. I wake feeling ok!
I get home from my dance class at 7:30pm and eat a katsu curry for dinner straight away. After dinner I have a glass of lemonade and then go for a shower and wash my hair. I then go and make lunch ready for work in the morning and settle down to watch Netflix and eat my pudding at 9:20pm.
At 9:50pm I feel my eyelids starting to droop and head up to get ready for bed. I’ve had a very busy day and definitely feel ready to sleep. I’m in bed by 10:20pm and can’t wait to sleep – feeling a little stressed out and a bit worn down after such a busy day.
I get about 6.5 hours sleep in total and wake up feeling ok despite my sleep feeling a bit restless.
After dinner I sit down on the sofa with a hot chocolate to watch The Great British Bake Off. I feel my eyelids drooping between the ad breaks so I grab some pudding after and then head up to get ready for bed.
I do a shortened version of my skincare routine and then hop into bed before 10:20 even though my mind feels very busy and stressed out. I wake up a couple times throughout the night but have a much-needed lie-in until 10:15am the next morning.
After attending a virtual open day for a postgraduate course I’ve been researching, I cook dinner with my Mum – sweet chilli and lime salmon with couscous and vegetables. After dinner I have a hot chocolate while I complete some more of the puzzle I’ve been working on and chat on social media with some friends.
At 9:30pm I stop to have some pudding and watch some Netflix on the sofa with my Mum, before heading up for bed at 10pm and doing my full skincare routine.
I get into bed at 10:30pm and make my to-do list for tomorrow to make sure I’m productive when I wake up before turning off the lights.
I have a very interrupted night of sleep with some very vivid dreams and lots of tossing and turning because I was too hot. I wake at 9am and surprisingly don’t feel too tired and start my day after a big bowl of porridge.
So, what does it all mean? A sleep expert offers her thoughts
Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep expert and professional physiologist, says: “You feel exhausted most evenings and after having your pudding – no judgement there, but I don’t think it’s helping your sleep quality – you crash and fall asleep very quickly. Sometimes you have nightmares and wake up not feeling at all rested.
“Less scrolling on your phone, cutting out the Pepsi and lemonade and maybe having your puddings earlier might enable you to have more restorative sleep and could even stop the nightmares.”
Dr Nerina continues: “The fact that you’re so tired in the evenings also isn’t ideal. It is better to get into bed feeling pleasantly relaxed and then it should take around 10 to 20 minutes to actually fall asleep – this is called the sleep latency.
“Falling asleep too fast could be an indicator that you’re carrying some fatigue and need to ‘clean up’ your lifestyle habits so that your sleep quality is better and you wake up with good energy.”
If you would like to take part in Stylist’s Sleep Diaries, please email us at email@example.com with ‘SLEEP DIARIES’ as the subject. We look forward to hearing from you.
Lead image design: Ami O’Callaghan
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.