Sian Williams talks to TV Times magazine about fronting a new series, Goodnight Britain (BBC1, Weds/Thurs), about the nation’s sleeping habits…

You’re so busy! When do you get the chance to get a good night’s sleep?
“We are all the same, you don’t do everything as well as you would like, you just have to do it as well as you can. Things don’t work like clockwork, but I have a lot of support from my husband, he is a freelance TV journalist, so sometimes he is at home when I am not and vice versa. You just have to make it work.”

You have a lot of personal experience with disrupted sleep patterns. Presenting BBC Breakfast for 11 years, you had to get used to getting up in the middle of the night…
“I am aware of the impact disrupted sleep patterns can have. I was lucky in a way that my sleep was regular when I was on BBC Breakfast. I went to bed at 9pm and got up at 3.30am. But I know that stressful feeling of thinking, ‘If I am not asleep in the next hour I am not going to be able to interview the Prime Minister effectively in the morning,’ and of course that just compounds it.”

It has been estimated that a quarter of all Britains have trouble sleeping and over 10 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were written in Britain last year alone…
“We all have had periods in our lives when sleep was a problem, when we haven’t been sleeping as much as we should or the quality of our sleep has been bad. But if someone is sleeping badly it affects the whole house.”

In the programme, you study people who are suffering with different sleep problems in a bid to help them…
“I don’t want to give away too much of the programme, but we looked into everything – working hours, stresses within the home, the home environment, what is happening when they go to work, their routine. It is a very practical programme we look at what psychologists and neuroscientists say and how people can apply that to their lives.”

Now you’ve left BBC Breakfast, have you managed to stop waking up at 3.30am?
“I still have this tendency to go to bed really early, twice this week I have been to bed at 9pm, which is going to be difficult tonight because I am presenting the 10pm news! I am also training for a marathon so I have been getting up to run and get that out of the way because I know I have a busy day ahead. Having that routine – although I wouldn’t want to go back to waking up at 4am – is quite useful.”

Do you have any regrets about leaving the show?
“I liked being up before anyone else and telling them the news of the day. Bill [former co-presenter Bill Turnbull] and I have known each other for 20 years and we had a great relationship. If you do something for that amount of time and you invest so much in the programme personally and professionally then you are obviously going to miss it. I am not someone who likes change much either so it was hard at first, but in the end it was the right time to go. You can’t do something for ever and you have to challenge yourself in other ways.”