My recent purchase of a Fitbit Alta HR has visualised this problem. Because it’s lighter than the previous Fitbit models that I’ve owned, I’ve started wearing it at night to track how well I sleep. Which, it turns out, isn’t very well.
Adults should aim for between 7 and 9 hours per night. I set my target for 7 hours, and, as you can see from the screenshot, I don’t always manage that every night. And when I do, it’s usually only just above that – it rarely approaches the ideal average of eight hours per night.
Lizzie is probably the biggest factor here. Whilst she sometimes sleeps through the night, she usually wakes up once for a drink. This doesn’t always wake me up, but if it does, it can sometimes take me quite a while to get back to sleep again.
There’s also the issue of co-sleeping. Last week, we started putting Lizzie in her cot in our bedroom. She’ll usually only go in if she’s already asleep, so it’s quite a delicate operation. On the whole, not having her on our bed all night has improved my sleep quality, except that when she wakes up and wants a drink. If that happens, she’s more likely to wake me up as well.
We also found that making sure that Lizzie is sufficiently worn out helps. At times, she has still been full of energy at 10pm. Now that she can walk, we’re trying not to have her in the pushchair as much, so that she burns off more energy.
Another intervention I’ve made is regarding caffeinated beverages. I’m trying not to drink anything with caffeine in it (including cola) after 2pm each day. It can take more than 6 hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off, and so having a Pepsi with dinner or a late afternoon coffee or energy drink can have knock-on effects when I want to sleep later on. I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks, and found that I’ve been going to sleep more quickly. Better quality sleep means less need for caffeine and so hopefully it’ll cut down how much I need to consume.