At my most sleep-deprived several years ago, I had a recurring fantasy. I would drive to IKEA just as they were closing, curl up into one of their display beds and be mistakenly locked in for the night, wherein I would have no chance but to enjoy a full, uninterrupted, cry- and feed-free night of sleep. Why IKEA I cannot tell you; it was just the closest place to my home that also contained beds and didn’t come with breast-feeding babies. Sleep dominated every thought – how painful it seemed having to go into another day, and another, and another, not ever having caught up on what was utterly lost, and may, for all I knew, never return.
But, (ongoing) baby years aside, I have never had problems sleeping. I am the clichéd working mother who is out for the count within seconds of switching off the light. Until recently, when I started cutting corners with my nightly wind-down in a bid to get some extra work done, and found myself wired and wide-eyed, wondering why I wasn’t already snoring. Nothing begets lost sleep like worrying about lost sleep, so I tried to clear my mind, and resolved never again to let my nightly sleep routine fall by the wayside.
We hear a lot about 'digital detoxing' and I am as guilty as the next woman of flicking through Instagram for upward of an hour while the kids are in bed, but I always, always feel better when I don’t. What I now do instead is prepare a little pile of nice things to read and look at, that are not being broadcast from an electronic device. No backlight (which keeps the brain sparking away long after it should be shutting down), no retina display, just a lovely welcoming page. A novel to get lost in, or magazines and books that relate to self-sufficiency, home decorating, the countryside, cooking – AKA ‘the good life’ – help my mind unfurl and get me breathing calmly.
I then run a bath, always very warm, and pour one of two sleep-inducing oils into it. When I am tired, but don’t necessarily feel it, I use Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil, £40. When I am wound up and feeling a bit low in spirit, I use Neom Real Luxury Bath & Shower Oil, £40. If I am not heading off to bed afterward, I use L’Occitane Relaxing Bath Salts, £16, to begin the slow unknotting of tension, and ease me into a calmer evening. The steam from my bath goes on to fill my entire house with its beautiful, soothing scent. I’d like to think it even helps the children sleep better too.
I also give the bedclothes a pre-sleep spritz. I have long loved Neom Tranquility Room Spray & Pillow Mist, £18 – and when used as part of the Neom 3-Step Sleep Programme (with candle and bath oil), 9 out of 10 sleep survey participants had a much better night’s sleep. I’m also trialling the new This Works Sleep Plus Pillow Spray, £25 – during a blind, placebo-controlled study of 200 subjects, 89% of users said they woke less, and 97% felt more relaxed in the morning. Using micro-encapsulated aromatherapy molecules, the fragrance is motion-activated – so tossing and turning in bed will waft a new wave of soothing scent into the room, thus helping you settle once more.
Impressive, and the stuff that sweet dreams are made of.
Read What is your chronotype? by Eminé Ali Rushton on LifeLabs