I’m writing this post after a fortnight of disrupted sleep.
Now, I’m not one to suffer from insomnia – aside from that year when I was commuting to London from Sussex and had to be up at 6am every day and woke up every hour on the hour out of fear that I’d overslept (you know that feeling, right?), coupled every now and then with horrific night sweats that made me feel a bit like I’d wet myself and rolled around in it. Eww. Just eww.
But, after one too many sleepless nights thanks to a sleeping bag that couldn’t handle the freezing temperatures of the Utah desert and a heck of a lot of snoring from my Trek travel pals, I arrived back to the UK this weekend feeling like I could just roll right into a phase of summer hibernation. ‘Cept I couldn’t because EFF YOU JETLAG.
Chris woke up at 4am on Sunday morning and came downstairs to find me on the sofa, wrapped in two blankets and devouring a double episode of Grey’s Anatomy alongside a half eaten carton of leftover curry and peshwaari naan from the night before. I mean, I may or may not have salvaged it from the tied up bag of Indian food sitting next to the bin ready and waiting to get taken out with the rubbish, but IT WAS DINNER TIME IN VEGAS ALRIGHT, and the fridge was empty. So whatevs. No shame.
Anyway, this post isn’t about where I get my middle-of-the-night snacks from, it’s about how YOU can get a damn good night’s sleep.
Because I’m really good at sleeping. Like really good, so I feel totally qualified to give this sort of advice.
And just an FYI, ten and a half hours sleep is my peak amount of sleep. No joke.
I know, this one is SO flipping obvious, but there’s certain rules you should abide by to maximise its efficiency.
Firstly, DO NOT wash your hair unless you’re honestly, definitely 100% going to blow dry it until it’s all dry. It’ll make you cold in bed and make you agitated and unsettled and no-one wants that.
And DO make it slightly too hot rather than slightly too cold and edge in slowly, otherwise you won’t be able to shake that slightly chilly horrible feeling even when you get into bed.
And, seeing as you’re not washing your hair, you can fill your tub with bubble bath and oil and anything that smells like unicorns and rainbows and happiness. Set the sleepy mood – add candles and relaxing music (y’know like Classic FM or Ed Sheeran or Snow Patrol or summin) and turn the lights right down low. Oh yeah.
2. GOOD PYJAMAS
Not only should they be fresh and smell of sweet, sweet fabric conditioner, they should be seriously flippin’ comfy.
I buy my pyjamas from Primark a size up – I go for their 16-18 pyjama sets, and alright, they look a bit oversized and sometimes I DO trip over my own leg hems when I’m going up the stairs, but they’re an absolute dream to sleep in. Get it, get it? DREAM.
Because they’re so roomy, I can starfish across my bed without any restriction and it’s heavenly. And, this might be a bit overshare, but it’s VITAL for nailing this whole sleep thing – do not, I repeat DO NOT, wear underwear. It will restrict you, even if you don’t realise it.
In fact, if it’s warm enough to not wear pyjamas, do that. Within about 32 seconds you’ll have forgotten all about the anxiety of someone breaking into your house and finding you naked, because OH MY GOD, ALL THE BED FREEDOM.
3. HERBAL TEA
I always like a good glass of cold water before bed to go alongside my relaxing cup of herbal goodness, but if you’ve got a bladder made of tissue paper, maybe cool off on the whole liquid thing. Ain’t nothing worse than getting comfy and then having the searing urgency of needing to wee shoot through your body.
Camomile is the obvious choice for bedtime as it’s mega soothing, but my fave (as bought into my life by my brother and sister in law) is Sleepytime Tea. You can buy it from Wholefoods or other heealth shops (or here on Amazon if you want to spend a small fortune on an annual supply…), and it’s basically a combo of camomile, mint and lemongrass and it’s EVERYTHING.
Oh, and I like a bedtime snack. There’s nothing better than going to bed feeling clean, hydrated and having a satisfied belly, is there? Summin light but carby does the trick just fine. Like a nice slice of toast and peanut butter. Come to mumma, you cheeky champ.
4. PILLOW SPRAY
Because no-one wants to change their bed sheets when all they want to do is sleep, try this beaut.
I ramble on about this ALL THE DAMN TIME. This = The Body Shop Deep Sleep Body Mist (which obvs you just spray into your bed rather than your actual body because it’s increds).
Now, it’s fallen off The Body Shop wesbite so if they’ve discontinued it I will hunt down whoever’s idea it was and shout in their face a bit, but just read these reviews for proof of how utterly dreamboat-y it is.
Check out if it’s still in stores, they do still have a bath milk from the same range online, so maybe that might make you smell ready to sleep? Maybs? Or, if anyone has any other sleep sprays that make them fall into heaven, comment below.
Eurgh. Reading. I love reading. No really, I do. But there’s something about someone telling you to turn off technology and read a book before bed instead that makes me want to punch people in the face.
I LIKE THE INTERNET AND MY IPHONE, ALRIGHT.
For when I just CBA to attempt to get stuck into a new book before bed, I opt for Harry Potter. You can literally open any book at any page and just start reading and it’s fine, it works, it’s not confusing. It’s perfect for times when you just need 10 minutes of reading to make your face and eyes extra sleepy whilst you’re lying in bed without getting confused about characters or storylines or plots.
No, but seriously, do stick your phone on charge and put it out of reach of your habitual hand gagging for an Instagram update. And don’t whip out your iPad. TV ain’t as good at shutting down your mind as reading is, nuh uh.
6. THINK OF PARADISE
OK, right, so this is a thing I do.
When your morning alarm is set and you’re done with your book and you’ve turned off your lamp, and you’re just lying there like COME ON BODY, GO TO SLEEP, try this.
I basically try and empty my mind as much as I can and just focus on blue sea. Turquoise sea. The sort of sea that’s so clear and tropical and perfect that you can see your coral coloured manicure through the water. Then I picture the soft white sand and shoreline that leads to the sea.
Everytime my mind drifts away from this image I bring it back. I keep coming back to it. Every time I think about OMG I HAVE NO MONEY, or the work I have to do the next day, I go back to my beach.
I picture myself lying on a wooden slat bed, half in the water, half in the sand. I picture myself scooping up handfuls of warm sand and imagine feeling the grains flowing in between my fingers.
I imagine letting my feet fall off my imaginary bed and letting them dip into the cool, perfect crystal sea. I imagine the heat of the sun beating down onto my skin, a light sea breeze cooling me down and making me feel comfortable and calm.
Maybe some palm trees rustling behind me, maybe a uninhabited island just chilling out in the distnace. You get the idea.
Just keep focusing on how quiet and unspoilt the scene is, how peaceful and unstressed you feel just looking at the soft blue waves rolling onto the white sand.
The more deeply inserted into my paradise vision I become, the more details I’m able to picture and describe and hold onto.
And somehow, and I’m not sure why. This works. On those nights where I just cannot shut down, this is the last thing I remember before drifting off.
Uh huh. I’ve been going back to this paradise place in my head about once a week for the past year. But you have to be persistent, you have to keep telling your mind NO NO NO whenever it wanders, you have to keep forcing it back to the tranquil beach setting.
Honestly, I think it’s magic.
SO YEAH, GO SLEEP AND DREAM OF ALL THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE. Like mermaids and glitter and fairies and kittens.