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 senior PR executive with ADHD finds out how to manage her energy levels for a better night’s sleep.
A little about me:
Occupation: senior PR executive
Number of hours sleep you get each night: 6.5 hours (on average)
Number of hours sleep you wish you got each night: 8-9 hours
Do you measure your sleep in some way (e.g. using your phone or wearable): I wear a Fitbit.
How much water do you drink on average per day: 2 litres
How much exercise do you do on average per week: not enough! About 1 hour of walking a day.
I spend the day with my parents and some of our family friends. We have some open sandwiches for dinner at around 8pm, which I eat while we talk. They leave about 10pm.
All the social interaction definitely drained my social battery, so I have a quick shower and head up to bed as soon as they leave. My goal of going to sleep was wishful thinking though, as I spend about an hour scrolling through TikTok before dosing off at 11:30pm.
I wake up at 6:21am, but as always, snooze my alarm about three times before getting up at 6:40am and rushing to get ready. I don’t have any breakfast because I feel nauseous if I have it within the first two hours of waking up.
I get home around 8pm (having left the house at 7:10am). We hosted a bake sale at work today to raise money for Ukraine, which ended up raising £500! It was a very exciting day, but I feel knackered by the end of it.
When I get home I have chicken schnitzel for dinner with my parents, which we eat while the news plays in the background. The news was quite dark, so probably not the best thing to watch before bed. However, as soon as I’ve finished dinner I decide to head up.
Of course, I end up spending some time messaging my friends and scrolling on social media, before dosing off at around 11:15pm.
I very rarely wake up throughout the night, but I end up waking up three times. I manage to get myself back to sleep within minutes though, and wake up at 6:45am to get ready and head to the office.
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I get home from work around 8pm, as I usually work late on Tuesdays. My Gran is staying at my parents house with me at the moment, so we have borsch for dinner (a perk of being at ‘home’ home and my Gran being there) and I hang out with her and my parents while we watch a movie.
I then have a quick shower and head up to bed at around 10:30pm. I read on my Kindle for a bit, and somehow fall asleep by 11pm.
I’m working from home today, so I get to have a lie in. After getting up I grab a yoghurt for breakfast and have my first coffee of the day (I drink about 3-4 cups a day but I have ADHD, so caffeine doesn’t really work on me).
I go for a walk at lunchtime and somehow manage to finish work on time today, which means I’m done at about 5:45pm.
Yet again, we have some soup for dinner and watch a movie. I head to bed at 9:30PM tonight though, as I’m feeling quite tired. I sleep through the night from about 10:15pm to 7:10am. As always I get ready, skip breakfast and head out the door.
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I get home from work about 8pm. Today was super busy again with a lot of back-to-back meetings, and I ended up eating lunch at my desk (Subway).
When I get in, my family is watching the news again and I just can’t hack it, so I head straight to my room and scroll through my phone (Twitter, TikTok, Bumble – you know, the usual).
Despite feeling exhausted after my busy day, I couldn’t fall asleep until about midnight. I kept waking up throughout the night, and despite working from home again the next day, I woke up at 7am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so after about 35 minutes of moving around in my bed, I finally got up and had my first coffee of the day..
So, what does it all mean? A sleep expert offers her thoughts
Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep expert and professional physiologist, says: “You really need some help managing your sleep and energy levels as you are a classic case of ‘tired but wired’.
“I feel I need to start by educating you about energy management. We all have two energy systems – one is for ‘survival’, aka our fight or flight response – and it runs on adrenaline, caffeine, constant dopamine hits from technology, and stress. When you live from this energy system, you find it hard to wind down and life feels unsafe. This energy system could also exacerbate your ADHD. The other energy system is about ‘thriving’ aka our rest and digest response, which is about good sleep, good immunity, feeling safe in ourselves and feeling joy and happiness.
“I want to help you recalibrate and to do this, you need to follow my unique sleep methodology and apply the 5 non-negotiables.”
Dr Nerina continues: “I understand that you hate breakfast because it makes you nauseous, but this is the classic survival energy pattern. Can you start with something very small within 30 minutes of rising? Something like eight almonds and two dates or half a banana and eight walnuts? You need the protein in that small breakfast.
“After that, I want you to eat little and often – again including protein in each snack – and at least halve your caffeine intake. You feel like coffee doesn’t affect you, but it does – it’s keeping you stuck in survival mode.
“You definitely need an electronic sundown at least an hour before you get into bed too, especially as you appear to be a sensitive human being and need to go to bed thinking the world is a good place. The sleep you’ll get will be your reward for your efforts.”
If you would like to take part in Stylist’s Sleep Diaries, please email us at [email protected] with your name, age and any sleep problems you’re dealing with, using ‘SLEEP DIARIES’ as the subject. We look forward to hearing from you.
Lead image design: Ami O’Callaghan
Other images: Getty/Dr Nerina Ramlakhan
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