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Jacqui - Interview 35

Age at interview: 69
Brief Outline: Jacqui lives with her partner and works part-time as a care worker. She slept well as a child, but noticed a dramatic change in her sleep when she became a stewardess, and when she got married. She believes the different shifts she worked and jet lag caused a change in her sleeping pattern. Eventually she went to the doctor for some mild sleeping tablets, which she took occasionally over the years. Currently Jacqui is sleeping much better and has not taken any sleeping tablets for a few years.
Background: Jacqui has two children and works as a part-time relief care worker. She lives with her partner.

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Jacqui feels that her sleep has been bad on and off throughout her life, except in childhood, and at these times takes a mild sleeping tablet, prescribed by her doctor, just long enough to get her back into a better sleeping pattern. Jacqui believes her poor sleep originated when she worked as a stewardess and had to do long haul flights.

 
Jacqui can only sleep when it is very dark and wonders if this is because she has memories of being taken to sleep into the darkness of air raid shelters when she was a small child during the second world war. For this reason, Jacqui feels she sleeps a bit better in the winter when it stays darker longer and hates to have any light coming into her room.
 
Because she works long hours as a relief care worker, Jacqui may have a short nap on the sofa, or if she is very tired, go to bed for an hour or so, so that she can get on and do all the things she wants to do.
 
Jacqui strongly believes that sleep is very important for her health and wellbeing, along with healthy eating, and regular exercise. Jacqui regularly visits the gym, swims and does Pilates classes. She finds she sleeps much better after she has exercised, particularly after a Pilates class as she finds this most relaxing.
 

Even though Jacqui used to travel a lot with her job as a Stewardess, she still finds it...

Even though Jacqui used to travel a lot with her job as a Stewardess, she still finds it...

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So how do you sleep when you’re away?
 
Not very well. I am not good at sleeping.
 
Even with your pillow?
 
No, no.
 
What happens when you’re away?
 
I don’t know. On Saturday I was so tired. I went to my daughter’s hen night.
 
Oh is she getting married?
 
Yes. And I went in this nice hotel in London. But I was in a single bed, so there was nowhere to go and every time I turned over I was going to fall out. Just different environment, most peculiar. Light I have to have a dark room. A really dark room. I’m not very good with light. So I’m quite neurotic really when you think about it.
 
And you mentioned you travel?
 
I did travel in my past life yes.
 
And how did you sleep then?
 
I think that was, I used to sleep really well. I was a stewardess and I used to sleep really well until I became a stewardess and because of the early hours and getting up in the middle of the night and working and all that sort of thing, it altered my sleeping pattern and I was an insomniac for quite a while.
 
Right. Now that’s interesting?
 
Really bad. 
 

Jacqui hates the fact that she snores because she believes it is something only men do.

Jacqui hates the fact that she snores because she believes it is something only men do.

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But you know you snore now and it wakes you up?
 
It wakes me up sometimes, yes. I don’t snore every night apparently. But I know I do snore occasionally. And I can't explain. I hate it. It’s awful. Because you think of it as a man thing don’t you. But why? Why should it be a man thing? And I don’t smoke and I don’t think I’m overweight I’ve no explanation for it.
 
Is that something you might go for help for if it got worse?
 
If it got really bad. If [partner] was to say to me look I can’t sleep because of your snoring, I definitely would. But he hasn’t said that yet. Fortunately he’s slightly deaf in one ear.
 
As long as it’s the right side?
 
So that’s okay. But no that was such a shock when I realised that I snore!
 
Do you snore down here when you’re dozing do you know?
 
No.
 
Is it just on your back?
 
Yes, it’s when I’m on my back and it’s when I’m in a really deep sleep I think and then I, not always but sometimes I wake myself up with a hick oh help. I usually sleep on my right side and then I don’t snore. 
 

Jacqui, who does shift work, notices that she finds it harder to recover from a shift now she is...

Jacqui, who does shift work, notices that she finds it harder to recover from a shift now she is...

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Do you find then the next day. How do you feel when you get up to the day shift?
 
I’m shattered and by the time the shift finishes at half past two ready to come home and normally I would sit on the couch and just sleep. Sometimes I’ll even climb into bed and just have a couple of hours sleep.
 
So how long do you think that messes you up for?
 
You know, about three days. It sounds a lot. Because of my age. I definitely think it’s because of my age.
 
Do you think when you were younger you would have recovered sooner?
 
Yes, recover much sooner.
 
Is that something you talk about amongst yourselves?
 
We do talk about it. But I have just decided it’s because of my age, it takes me that much longer to recover from it.
 

Eating well, exercising and sleeping well are all important to Jacqui for being able to do the...

Eating well, exercising and sleeping well are all important to Jacqui for being able to do the...

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No I am very careful what we eat.
 
So that sounds like you have a healthy attitude to life?
 
Well I hope so. Yes.
 
Where does sleep itself fit into that? Do you regard it as something that’s important?
 
Ah terribly important. It goes alongside eating properly and exercising. You know, eating properly isn’t it, having exercise and sleeping are the three main things to keep you going to keep you functioning. To keep you healthy.
 
Is sleep something, I mean foodis something you go without, but is sleep something you cut short or curtail at any point or something you feel you can manipulate I suppose is what I am asking?
 
No.
 
Oh that is interesting.
 
I have really got to have my sleep. I am a much better, not better person, but more active and I as see it a nicer person if I’ve had my sleep, otherwise I can get very scratchy.
 
So if you’ve had a really bad night or you have those shifts do you notice a change in your temperament?
 
Yes. I’m very short tempered.
 
Are you. So are other people aware of that?
 
I think they might do yes. I think so. I try not to be but you can’t help it. It is how your body is. 
 

Jacqui finds that she gets more tired when she works now than she used to when she was younger.

Jacqui finds that she gets more tired when she works now than she used to when she was younger.

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Do you find then the next day. How do you feel when you get up to the day shift?
 
I’m shattered and by the time the shift finishes at half past two ready to come home and normally I would sit on the couch and just sleep. Sometimes I’ll even climb into bed and just have a couple of hours sleep.
 
So how long do you think that messes you up for?
 
You know, about three days. It sounds a lot. Because of my age. I definitely think it’s because of my age.
 
Do you think when you were younger you would have recovered sooner?
 
They recover much sooner.
 
Is that something you talk about amongst yourselves?
 
We do talk about it. But I have just decided it’s because of my age, it takes me that much longer to recover from it.
 
So if you were having a normal, a normally disrupted night but in your own home do you think that would take you longer to recover from as well?
 
It wouldn’t take as long as the [place] one, because I’ve done two shifts don’t forget. I have done a late eight hour shift and then say I get of hours sleep and then I’ve got another seven and a half hours shift. That is quite a lot isn’t it.
 
And are you on your feet all the time?
 
Yes.
 
You said next week you anticipate your sleep being really bad. Is that because you’ve got some shifts next week?
 
I have got some shifts next week. This week is good. I’m using this as a catching up process. Because I have been doing a lot of shifts and I have been away for the last two weekends doing things, so I have been really, really tired and I still feel very tired actually. So it’s good that I’m not working because if I want to sleep in the afternoon I will. And I do that often.
 
You do, because that’s something else I like to talk to people about is, you know, how they feel about day time sleep. So if you’ve had a particularly bad time, you will quite happily come home and sleep?
 
Yes.
 
And you said sometimes you can go up to bed?
 
If I’m really tired I’ll just get into bed, otherwise I’ll just sit here and nod off for sometimes an hour and that’s all I need and I feel so much better and then I can carry on and cook dinner and all that sort of thing.
 
So is it something you plan to do then. Is it somebody saying right I’m really tired I am going to sit down now and go to sleep or does it overcome you?
 
It overcomes me quite honestly, Sue yes, I fight against it because usually there is so much to do, there’s the ironing to do or something to do or I might like to go and have a swim but sometimes it just over and over comes me and I think no, do you know what I’m learning as I’m getting older. I’m actually listening to my body and that’s something I’ve never done in my life. I’m so stubborn and I know I not going to give in, I never wanted to give in. No I have got to keep going. Now I’m listening. I’m saying okay no I’m not going to go. I’m going to have a rest now. 
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