Sunday 26 May 2019

My sleep story Stefanie Preissner: 'I am useless if I don't get eight hours'

Stefanie Preissner
Stefanie Preissner

Author and screenwriter Stefanie Preissner developed specific sleep habits in order to deal with the sleep issues she suffered in her twenties. Here she tells Liadan Hynes about the patterns she adheres to in order to ensure she gets a good night's sleep.

'Sleep freaks me out. If I don't get enough of it, I feel the world is going to end. It hasn't yet," says Stefanie.

"I get up to work at 4.30am each day. It started as jet lag but I kept it up because I find it a particularly easy time to get stuff done - before the world wakes up and you have to compete with phones, emails, and Twitter for attention."

Getting eight hours of sleep is a priority. "When I started telling people about my sleep routine, I realised that we live in a world that fetishises being busy, being stressed and running on little to no sleep. With that in mind I am changing how I speak about my sleep routine. I get eight hours. Always. I am useless without it."

Her routine is crucial. "Because my body is adapted to waking at 4.30am, I have to go to bed around 8pm in order to catch the sleep bus. If I miss it, I can't fall asleep for hours but I'll still be awake at 4.30am and I'll be useless for the day."

Importantly, Stefanie has developed good sleep hygiene habits around her mobile phone. "I bring my phone to bed with me but I have the light timed to turn to 'night mode' around 6pm. I don't read any messages/tweets or emails from around 7.30pm but I use my phone to listen to podcasts or audio books as I fall asleep. The most soothing thing in the world is Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter into my ears as I drift off."

Naps are not generally something she indulges in, although that is changing. "If I don't get eight hours, I don't allow myself to nap - I have some historical aversion to it where I see it as weak or lazy, but that's something I'm working on because I'm often not fit for anything except sleep if I don't get it at night."

Having previously had problems with sleep, Stefanie has developed a certain set of behaviours which ensure she sleeps well. "I had sleep issues in my twenties. I would eat too late, worry too much and sleep in well into the afternoon. It had a ripple effect on my whole life. If I don't eat two hours before going to bed, if I get up when I wake, and if I do moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, I sleep like a baby."

Stefanie was photographed by David Conachy. Make-up by Dearbhla Keenan and hair by Will Talbot, both at Brown Sugar, 50 South William St, D2, tel: (01)616-9967. Necklace, Inner Island, top, Theo+George


* Get a good mattress. "I slept in a concave soup-bowl type bed for too long in college and my spine hates me for it."

* "Don't let other people's schedules/desire to talk derail your own needs or sleep routine."

* "I take Magnesium Citrate - it could be an absolute placebo but I do feel that I sleep right through the night since I started to take it."

Sunday Indo Living

Editors Choice

Also in Life