Lisa Walsh

The sleep challenge is alerting Lisa to factors that affect her sleep

Lisa Walsh Week 3


This is the first week of the challenge where Lisa Walsh has had night shifts to contend with. She was working from 8pm to 7am on Saturday and Sunday and then went to bed at 7.30am on Monday morning.

“I’m not sure whether this was the right or the wrong thing, but I made myself get up at midday,” Walsh says. “I went to bed at my normal time of 11.30 that evening. I would like to know whether that was the right thing to do. I still felt a bit jet lagged on Tuesday but probably not as bad as I normally would.”

By Thursday she says she still feels a bit groggy but it is improving. “Monday was tough, I felt quite dizzy and sick for a lot of the day after getting up at 12 so I’m not sure it was the right decision,” she says. She would like some specific advice on what to do after working nights.

The challenge is certainly alerting her to factors that affect her sleep. “I’m noticing that exercise has a huge effect on my mood and how I feel when I get up,” she says. Advice about hydration has also been useful. “I drink loads of water in the summer but I forget during the winter and this has alerted me to that... I’m also eating dinners now, which I hadn’t been doing before this.”

Alcohol has an effect as well. “I had my first glass of wine, since starting the study, last night,” Walsh says. “I woke and was wide awake at 3am in the morning. It must have been the wine. I would never have connected the two. I’ve noticed stress also has a big effect on my sleep.”

The recommended bedtime of 10pm remains a non-starter for Walsh. “It’s just never going to happen,” she says. “That hour after all the kids are in bed is the only time I have to myself and I need that time.”  


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: Listening to your body is key and this is really good advice, but just be aware that this can be deceptive. Some people need to sleep after long shifts, but are too alert to switch off. Others find they are too tired to sleep which is a significant problem. In cases like these, a hypnotic drug or drink can help. Sleep tablets are commonly prescribed and are useful for periods of insomnia. Their use is most helpful in subjects who need to get to sleep who don't have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea. Well done on the efforts to keep hydrated and keep the meals regular. You seem to be noticing the difference exercise makes as well. As you said, it may not be perfect, but if you can get things to a point where they are good enough, that is definite progress. 




Feb 13-14
Time to sleep 00:23 hrs
Sleep onset 23:48
Sleep duration 06:31 hrs
Unscored sections 00:07 hrs
Final awakening 07:42
Sleep efficiency 84 %

Feb 14-15
Time to sleep 00:27 hrs
Sleep onset 01:55
Sleep duration 07:48 hrs
Unscored sections 01:15 hrs
Final awakening 14:54
Sleep efficiency 67 %
Feb 16-17
Time to sleep 00:07 hrs
Sleep onset 07:43
Sleep duration 06:47 hrs
Unscored sections 00:04 hrs
Final awakening 14:59
Sleep efficiency 94 %
Feb 17-18
Time to sleep 00:06 hrs
Sleep onset 07:41
Sleep duration 05:40 hrs
Unscored sections 00:52 hrs
Final awakening 14:54
Sleep efficiency 89 %
Feb 18-19
Time to sleep 00:30 hrs
Sleep onset 00:11
Sleep duration 09:58 hrs
Unscored sections 01:06 hrs
Final awakening 11:35
Sleep efficiency 97 %
Feb 19-20
Time to sleep 00:10 hrs
Sleep onset 00:20
Sleep duration 07:59 hrs
Unscored sections 00:06 hrs
Final awakening 09:33
Sleep efficiency 87 %

Sleep efficiency:

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%.

Sleep duration:

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.

Sleep onset:

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.



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