Gaynor has been going to bed earlier, getting up earlier and says she’s feeling less exhausted
“This is my first week of regular sleeping hours,” says Laura Gaynor. “I’ve been getting up earlier every day. At the moment, I’m producing a film, directing another film and making a TV promo for the Fresh Film Festival for RTE, so it’s busy. Before this, the temptation would have been to stay up late working, but now I go to bed early and work in the morning instead.”
It takes discipline to switch off at half ten according to Gaynor. “I have my computer and computer in my room and I hear those annoying notification sounds from Facebook and Twitter. The finger swipe to turn off the wifi is a small action, but a difficult one,” she says. “I think we take sleep for granted to a certain extent and we don’t realise that it actually does take some input and work.”
The early mornings have been a revelation – Gaynor is now getting up at 6.30am. “It’s better for creativity, it’s more time efficient. I think I always had a tendency to work that way but I stopped when I got to college and started staying up later,” she explains.
Exercise was another recommendation and Gaynor has been walking instead of getting the bus. Her tea drinking has also been reigned in. “I’d probably have to check into the Rutland Centre or something if I had to give it up entirely but I’m probably only drinking about half the amount I used to,” Gaynor says. “I don’t drink any after about six or seven in the evening.”
Yawning on the Dart has become a less frequent event, and Gaynor says she’s feeling less exhausted. “The only issue is that I’m not feeling refreshed when I wake. I’m grand after tea and breakfast and all that, but I’m pretty groggy before that. I’d like to get some advice on that,” she says
Dr John Faul is a respiratory physician and sleep specialist at the Hermitage Medical Clinic. During the Sleep Challenge he will be providing practical input on how people can improve their sleep.
Dr Faul comments: Laura's efforts certainly seem to be paying off. The alerting effect of iPads and smartphones is a common factor that disrupts sleep so good job on keeping that to a minimum. Simply avoiding technology in the bedroom will promote sleep. Caffeine is a useful stimulant that delays sleep onset. However some subjects are more sensitive than others. Caffeine itself is toxic and in large quantities is lethal. Some subjects are very sensitive to small quantities o caffeine and it leads to a restlessness in the evening and night time. Decaffeinated drinks do contain some caffeine, but the quantity is less. Caffeine withdrawal can be a debilitating medical condition that people should be aware of before they go caffeine free so be careful!
LAURA GAYNOR'S SLEEP IN NUMBERS
Your “Sleep Efficiency” provides a metric of how well you slept. This simply means working out the percentage of time spent in bed asleep each night. If you spend 8 hours in bed, but only 4 of those hours are spent asleep, then your sleep efficiency is very low at 50%. Sleep efficiency is based on the assumption that we go to bed in order to sleep. Most normal sleepers spend nearly all of their time in bed asleep, i.e. a sleep efficiency of 90-95% or more. People with insomnia generally have an average sleep efficiency of less than 85%.
This is the actual length of your sleep while in bed. Most healthy adults require 7-9 hours of sleep, with experts recommending 8 hours. Some people only require only 6 hours, but others may require 10 hours of quality sleep.
This is our estimate of when the person first feel asleep.
Normally, you should try to maintain a regular sleep schedule. For instance, if you stay up late on Friday, sleep late on Saturday, you are set up to sleep even later on Saturday night. This can give rise to Sunday night insomnia.
In practice, this means trying to get up at the same time every day, even after a late night party. It also suggests that “sleeping in” at the weekend to make up sleep debt from the week may not be completely be effective – especially if you encounter Sunday night insomnia.