Last Words: What Are Your Final Phrases Before Sleep?

What do you do right before you go to bed?  Do you diarise like Pepys or Richard Burton, complaining about politics, the prostitute who ripped your trousers (you'd think that was Burton but you would be WRONG) or writing about your wife's amazing figure (apparently ping pong kept Liz Taylor looking good...who knew?)?  Maybe journalising isn't your scene, so you opt for a bedtime story? Or do you say a special nighttime mantra before you meditate, you full-on wellness queen you.

Or maybe you say it all with your gorgeous eyes

Or maybe you say it all with your gorgeous eyes

We are wrapping up our look at sleep on Life Butter Radio, and wanted to take a little look at the last words of the day, whether these are words you write, say or read.  

So You're a Writer

2016 was a year of the Headspace app at Life Butter London HQ.  Founder Andy Puddicombe is both the creator and voice behind the popular app (kind of like our host Kari!), and his sleep series is especially soothing.  Camille Rowe finds him "dreamy" (at 12:35), so it's not just us. 

In the first Headspace Sleep meditation, Andy asks you to recall what you did that day, starting from when you woke up.  The exercise is only 10 minutes in total, so you aren't dwelling on any particular moment for too long, but just flowing through the rhythm of what you did from the time you awoke to the time you got into bed and started the meditation at a smooth, reasonable pace.  Andy's approach is backed up by science, and the idea is that gently scrolling (again in your mind, not on your phone) through the events of the day clears your mind of anything that happened that you might be hung up on, calms you and prepares your brain to switch off.  So if you are a writer, pre-bedtime might be a great time to set down a few lines aboutsq what went on during your day...provided you don't do it on a computer, or get super rant-y.

So You're a Reader

In chatting with friends, it became clear that the one thing that helps all of us shut down our brains and get ready for Zzzzs is getting involved in a story that has nothing to do with you or your day-to-day life.  This is one of the reasons that so many of us like to switch off to the tunes (or explosions, these days) of a boxset, or the alt-reality of a Real Housewives franchise before bed.  But we know that at least in the hour before we want to sleep, it's time to switch off the box (and our phone) and wind down.  Enter the old-fashioned bedtime story.

Sales of physical books were up in 2016, and we think there's a correlation.  More of us are reading fiction in our daily lives, not just on the beach or on the train.  And as we've been reading our fair share of Good Night Moon as of late, we've been thinking about the bedtime stories that stay with you...the fairy tales that take you to places far away, where anything real that could possibly be stressing you out is a distant memory.  One of ours growing up?  The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.  Unicorns, talking butterflies and handsome princes?  Magic.

Back off depressing news, I'm reading about unicorns

Back off depressing news, I'm reading about unicorns

So You're a Talker

Us too Jeff

Us too Jeff

Honestly, we don't know anyone IRL who actually recites mantras before they go to bed, but they exist (just like unicorns, winky-face).  So somewhere out there, there are people who are saying just a few last words, again & again, to clear their brain out before they go to bed.  It seems like it'd work, and maybe one of these days we'll give it a try.

We do know quite a few people who pray before bed - classic.  Though in theory this seems potentially stress-inducing as you are going over worries and concerns, this apparently also helps us clear these worries out of our burdened brains so that we are ready to sleep.  And if you caught Episode 4 of Life Butter Radio, you'll understand why so many traditional prayers ask for God's protection and commend the soul to heaven...fear of dying in the night was very real (and sadly, in some places, still is).  No matter what else you are doing before you go to sleep, sparing a thought or two for someone else and wishing them well, and maybe commending yourself to something higher seems a good way to end the day.

Prayer: releasing worries and connecting to community and spirit before sleep. 

Prayer: releasing worries and connecting to community and spirit before sleep. 

Many of us need a little escapism these days, so what are you reading, writing or saying before Zzz?

And if you DO need a little help, check out Episode 6 of Life Butter Radio, a special ep that was written, designed and performed to send you off to dreamland.  We hope you enjoy.   

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Sleep - Follow Along on The Food Medic's Blog!

Of course you know Hazel Wallace, because she is not only all over instagram, but was recently featured in both Women's Health and on TV advertising Linwoods sprinkles (see below).  What?  Health bloggers have officially arrived!

What we love about Hazel here at Life Butter is that she is not only the very definition of a badass modern woman in that she works a pretty intense day as a junior doctor, still makes time for quick, effective workouts, healthy eating and her nearest & dearest, but she is also a passionate health advocate who views a healthy lifestyle as a longterm game.  If you don't already follow thefoodmedic on social media, go and check her out - you won't be sorry.

We are delighted to be a part of Hazel's growing online community as a guest blogger.  On a monthly basis, we'll be sharing better-sleep strategies: implementing what we've learned so far in season 1 of Life Butter Radio, and creating habits that will help us all get better sleep.  We're really excited about this project, because it's one thing to passively hear about the importance of getting more sleep, and another entirely to implement some changes to help you get it.  Our first post went live today - click through the link below to see our first tip for Hazel's readers.

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Sleep, Toddlers and Inner Rage...Anyone Else?

Our host is doing full time childcare at the moment.  We all know (and if you don't check out Episode 5 of Life Butter Radio) that babies and sleep do not always go together as well as they should.  But toddlers aren't always much easier, which is why this story debuted at No. 1 on the NYT Bestseller list when it came out in 2011.

We've got more on bedtime stories coming up, but for now, here's a little something for parents of little ones who are just discovering their night owl selves. 

Sleep Sanctuary: Rituals, Art, Linens and Magic

It's January, and we're still obsessed with sleep.  Is there any other way to get through this month? And we are not alone; bored of kale, the wellness industry has turned its attention to new foods full of colour and promise, and, as we know, sleep.  So chances are, you've already heard quite a bit about sleep, even if you haven't been listening to Life Butter Radio! You should, though.

In our last episode, we talked about sleep before the internet, television, central heating and light bulbs with Dr. Sasha Handley.  Her book takes a look at sleep in Early Modern England, and charts our attitudes, our approaches and our understanding of sleep in this period.  It also includes images of beautiful historical bedlinen, sleepwear and art; any fan of a good historical drama would swoon.  Think richly embroidered linens, bed curtains, stained glass and even magical markings made with candles.  All of this got us thinking about the bedroom as a sanctuary - a place of calm and beauty.  Which is not exactly how our bedrooms tend to be set up these days...we might not have a tv, and we're trying to keep our smart-everything out of the bedzone, but even so, we're not exactly achieving spa-like conditions at LB HQ.

In search of some inspiration, we thought I'd be fun to ask Dr. Handley a bit about the rituals, magic and beauty of the bedroom in Early Modern England, and come up with some modern day equivalents - sleep aids for the romantic who is thinking more candles and soft fabrics than sleep trackers and retro alarm clocks.  Scroll ⬇️ for a little look.

School Us Dr. Handley

Q: Is it fair to say that everyone in early modern England, from the very rich to the very poor, made an effort to somehow sanctify places that they dedicated to nightly sleep?

'Young Bateman's ghost, or, a godly warning to all maidens', London, 1760, the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

'Young Bateman's ghost, or, a godly warning to all maidens', London, 1760, the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

Sleeping in a 'safe' and secure place was important to everyone: rich and poor, man, woman and child. But people's sense of what constitutes 'safety' does of course differ greatly. Many early modern people sought a degree of physical enclosure during sleep, and bedtime was usually accompanied by a variety of prayers that begged for God's protection during the vulnerable hours of sleep. Some even wore charms or amulets to bed in the hope that they would provide a degree of protection from danger during these unconscious hours.

Modern take on the protective Hand of Fatima

Modern take on the protective Hand of Fatima

Pretty & protective; dream catchers of lore trap bad dreams

Pretty & protective; dream catchers of lore trap bad dreams

Q: How did men and women use bedlinen, sleeping clothes and other textiles to help ensure that they got a good night's sleep?

A large quantity of early modern bedding textiles were home-made; hemp could be grown, spun and bleached at home and turned into linen to be embroidered and then placed on the bed. People often had a personal relationship to the bedding that surrounded them during the night, which, it seems offered a sense of comfort and reassurance. Linen was also prized for its cleanliness - cleansing the skin that it enclosed and providing a protective barrier against dreaded bed-bugs and even diabolical spirits.

Bedcover, England, c. 1786, Object No. T.20-1938, © courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Bedcover, England, c. 1786, Object No. T.20-1938, © courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Black flax linen may comfort

Black flax linen may comfort

Spirt animal?  This monochrome wolf seems protective

Spirt animal?  This monochrome wolf seems protective

Enchanted forest duvet set for kids

Q: How important was the feel of the linen used?  Was comfort as important as decoration for these materials?

Yes, I'm sure that 'comfort' was extremely important to people's experiences of sleep and textiles didn't need to be beautiful or decorative to provide that - most of us remember a sheet or a blanket to which we were particularly attached, because of the way it felt against our skin. Linen, depending on its quality, offered a smooth and cool sensation to those that touched it, something that strengthened linen's reputation as the premium bedding textile of choice in these years.

The Brooklinen Classic Hardcore set; hiplinen for hipster living

The Brooklinen Classic Hardcore set; hiplinen for hipster living

Cashmere blanket - sensory pleasure for little ones and babies alike.  Probably won't stay white for long though!

Cashmere blanket - sensory pleasure for little ones and babies alike.  Probably won't stay white for long though!

Q: Who made bedlinen in early modern England?  Was this part of a bride's trousseau, or purchased/commissioned?

Bedlinen could be made domestically - often in anticipation of, or following a marriage, but it could also be commissioned and purchased from local tradespeople or specialist linen-drapers, which were springing up at a rapid rate throughout the early modern period - especially in large urban centres like London.  

Q: Was the bedcap a thing for both men and women?  I have to confess to sleeping with a hat on during temperature wars with my flatmates while studying!

Bedcaps (which had a wide variety of names) were used by men, women and children. Their materials were adapted to suit the wearer, and to suit the season of the year - heavier velvets were often used in the winter-time, whilst lighter, more breathable textiles were preferred for the summer months.

Stained glass window of Tobias and Sarah on their Wedding Night. c. 1520, © couresy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Stained glass window of Tobias and Sarah on their Wedding Night. c. 1520, © couresy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Not quite a sleeping cap, but velvet and rather pretty

Not quite a sleeping cap, but velvet and rather pretty

Q: Let's talk about art: what sorts of imagery was popular in early modern England for the bedside?

It's pretty tricky to reconstruct the 'norm' here - for those that could afford it, expensive portraits featuring biblical scenes or the images of loved ones might be commissioned, but 'art' might also apply to the decorative motifs that were commonly found on bedding textiles - intricate flower designs, animals, exotic Chinese figures with parasols, and the (Indian-inspired) tree of life motif are just some of the image that surrounded sleepers in these years.

A little later, but William Morris' famous Arts & Crafts bed at Kelmscott Manner is lavishly embroidered with the motif of a poem he loved.  

A little later, but William Morris' famous Arts & Crafts bed at Kelmscott Manner is lavishly embroidered with the motif of a poem he loved.  

The A Beautiful Mess statement handwriting wall...love literally lettered into the bedroom

The A Beautiful Mess statement handwriting wall...love literally lettered into the bedroom

Monochrome lovers could try sleeping under every phase of the moon

Monochrome lovers could try sleeping under every phase of the moon

Q: Were these images meant to calm sleepers, or did they include the odd bloody crucifix?

I suspect there were a wide variety of 'motivations' behind the use of different images - some would be intended to put the sleeper in mind of spiritual matters, and to remind them of the day of judgement; others, such as landscape scenes, might have a calming effect on those that viewed them. Some textiles undoubtedly had a more utilitarian purpose, and perhaps featured less rich decorations, but fewer of these materials have survived the passage of time, so best not to rule anything out!

Q: What sorts of rituals did men and women perform by their bedsides to prepare themselves for sleep?  How were holy water and candles used?

Light it up in style

Light it up in style

Candles had a very practical purpose - to give light at bedtime, perhaps for a spot of reading, but some people may also have regarded them in a more spiritual manner. They were sometimes the cause of accidental fires, if somebody forgot to blow them out before they fell asleep. Holy water is associated with the sanctification of the user/wearer, and it likely served this purpose at the bedside - offering a degree of spiritual protection (and reassurance) to those that used it. As for other rituals, the most common was prayer, confession and meditation, which often had the added bonus of calming the body and mind for sleep to take hold.

Snakes may frighten, but are also symbols of divine protection in some circumstances.

Snakes may frighten, but are also symbols of divine protection in some circumstances.

Watched over by the moon

Watched over by the moon

Or smoke out bad dreams with incense

Or smoke out bad dreams with incense

Hands up who likes a beautiful candle

Hands up who likes a beautiful candle

Q: Were any particular prayers said at either bedtime or waking?

Morning and evening prayers were the most common forms of prayer for all Christians, and they book-ended and sanctified the hours of sleep. Some people used set forms of prayer out of, for example, The Book of Common Prayer, whilst others made up their own.

Q: What is the prettiest piece of bedside paraphernalia that you came across in your research for the book?

I think the prettiest piece of bedside paraphernalia that I came across during my research for the book is the bedding made by Ann Breton, which belongs to the National Trust's Lyme Park. It was, however, never used for sleeping under since Ann sadly died before she finished the beautiful and exotic embroidery.

Bedcover, c. 1725-c.1750, Object No. 500311.1 Lyme Park © The National Trust/Robert Thrift

Bedcover, c. 1725-c.1750, Object No. 500311.1 Lyme Park © The National Trust/Robert Thrift

Pillow cover,, c. 1725-c.1750, Object No. 500311.3 Lyme Park, reproduced with the kind permission of The National Trust

Pillow cover,, c. 1725-c.1750, Object No. 500311.3 Lyme Park, reproduced with the kind permission of The National Trust

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O HOLY NIGHT!

Hoping & Praying (literally) for Better Sleep Across the Centuries - What History Can Tell Us About Health Habits

‘The Nightmare’ (London, 1827) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

‘The Nightmare’ (London, 1827) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

For Episode 4 of Life Butter Radio (out very soon), I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. Sasha Handley, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Manchester.  Dr. Handley is author of, amongst other works, Sleep in Early Modern England, and she joined me on the show to give us some insight on how we used to "do" sleep, and to reflect on how this ties in with our sleep and general wellness habits today.

This was a super fun conversation for me.  History is one of my true passions, and I would contend that an understanding of how we used to live is essential to contextualising and understanding who we are and how we behave today.  The period that Dr. Handley studies is the 16th-18th centuries, i.e. the period of many a popular BBC drama or Philippa Gregory novel.  It's a time that has captured our popular imagination; it's close enough to be relatable, but romantic in that it is before the invention, or at least mass dissemination, of modern technology (no planes, trains or automobiles...or indeed electric lights).  It's a period that I think we can easily romanticise as a "simpler time", when we could be our best selves, free of the distractions that so fascinate and infuriate us today.  

Always Austen - banter, balls and lusty looks made softer by candlelight...plus #theysopretty

Always Austen - banter, balls and lusty looks made softer by candlelight...plus #theysopretty

And yet, when you delve into what it was actually LIKE to live in this time...I'm pretty sure none of us would go there.  As Dr. Handley writes on her own blog, bedtime involved bedbugs, which could be lured away from your bed with cow dung. And as we discuss in Episode 4, people spent a lot of time trying to stay warm and conquer their fear of the night (think evil spirits and sickness-breeding vapours).  Still, I'm sure we'd all happily skip back a few centuries so for the fashion, right?

I'm sure you'll be able to hear the geeky enthusiasm in my voice as I chat through these ideas with Dr. Handley on the show. 😝

What I love about conversations like these is that we are reminded that there is truly nothing new under the sun; health has always been a fundamental concern for men and women across the ages, and we have been forever trying to better understand how our minds and bodies work so that we can get the most out of them.  The anecdotes Dr. Handley relates about the sleep habits of the men and women she studies are not only amusing (listen out for her beer-loving clergymen), but reveal that we were concerned with and complaining about poor sleep long before the advent of FaceBook and Netflix.  Similarly, we were turning inward to prayer, quiet time and calming tasks like sewing to help find sleep and bookend their days...just in the way that many of us now use meditation.  I love learning things like this; it makes us realise that as chaotic, unstable, and unprecedented (or unpresidented,to be of the moment) as this world seems to be today, human beings are the same across time and space, looking to the same sorts of tools to fix the same sorts of problems.  I find this both comforting and encouraging.

Watch for the launch of Episode 4, check out Dr. Handley's blog, and, if you want to really bring this episode to life, stop by How We Used to Sleep, an upcoming exhibition that Dr. Handley is running at Little Moreton Hall in Chesire.  I'll put more details on the blog when they are released, but this will be in May 2017.  The exhibition is an interactive display highlighting her research on sleep, and allowing us to have a go at getting some Zzzs as we used to back in the day.  I intend to go and mix up some historic sleep potions of my own. Whether or not I drink them remains to be seen!

Get down & jam with Episode 4 of Life Butter Radio

Get down & jam with Episode 4 of Life Butter Radio

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How to Sleep When You've Overindulged

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and it's all too easy to find yourself in bed with a spinning head, especially this time of year.  

So here are a few strategies for times you know you're going to be out, and for when you've had more than you intended.  Because we all know that though a green juice/vitamin infusion or coffee/fry up (as per your preference) can help the next day, the only real cure for getting over the night before is sleep.  So here's how to get the best sleep when you need it the most.

When You Know You're Going to Rage 💀

You're going to a birthday or, given the time of year, the holiday party.  You're going to be eating late, eating all the things, and drinking ALL THE THINGS.  So first can I say: just own this.  Be unapologetic and excited because, for all the charm of hyggethese exist for a reason!  BUT, maybe it's a Wednesday, & you're going to work in the morning.  So you want to rage but not to the point of destruction. Ok - let's go.

Painful as it is to admit, we all know that prevention is better than the cure, so if you really want to hit the pillow feeling good, this will involve some self-control that may, depending on your temperament, take you a little bit out of the moment.  Still, I think you can have fun while being, dare I say it, mindful, but you need to acknowledge that you will need to think a bit about your choices.  Pretty much true of anything in life.  Now, how do we make this easier?

Can I suggest that you make an effort to go to the party in a good mood?  It may seem obvious to say this, but you are going to be so much less likely to arrive & immediately drink 2 glasses of prosecco if you have left work (or whatever) stress behind, aren't hyped up and feel content.  So maybe try to fit in a yoga session (if that's your jam), exercise class, some sweet tunes, or anything that makes you feel good before you go.  Because if you go relaxed and happy, it is going to make it so much easier to have the experience you want to have, and make choices that will set you up for a better night's sleep and following day.

If you even suspect that you may struggle with this, or you are actually hell-bent on destruction, maybe rearrange your schedule so you don't have important meetings or work assignments to tackle first thing the next day.  And if you do get caught getting unexpectedly trashed, and you end up eating pizza at 2 AM dancing in your pants (true story), it is OK!  I feel like these days so many of us are afraid to let go and enjoy ourselves, and would rather feel consistently good but maybe a bit stultified rather than occasionally OOC and silly.  As long as you aren't a jerk (and maybe you don't use your camera phone), it's ok to go for it from time to time!

The Drinking 🍷

So with all that in mind, your evening.  If you want a sugary cocktail (YES), try to just have 1 (or so), and really, really enjoy it.  Honestly, that is the key to anything related to moderation and health.  If you really take your time and enjoy your food and drink, you'll probably end up consuming less and have a better chance of staying on track than if you slam a few drinks quickly upfront and try to ease off as the evening goes on.  You can also feel very chic and French (right?  Seems like a French thing to do).

After that, low(er) sugar cocktails like vodka soda are your friends.   If you like coconut, you could try something like this.  Keep drinking water, of course - alcohol is a diuretic so it's dehydrating, and dehydration makes you feel like crap (simples!).  You may have to hunt down the H2O, but water at least you can chug and then discard, or, alternatively, disguise as one of those boring cocktails so no one is the wiser.  If you are at an epic dinner, you may have to watch overzealous waiters or hosts who constantly top up your glass...this is where you are taken slightly out of the moment, which is a bit annoying, but I've been caught too many times having no concept of how much I've actually had to drink because the level never dips below half a glass.  You'll need to pay attention to how you're feeling, and gauge when it's time to back off.  If you are veering dramatically off course, one of your friends or partner may be happy to do this for you.  Winky-face.

The Eating 🍔

Source   100soft.us

Source 100soft.us

When it comes to food, anything fattyspicy otherwise difficult to digest will make sleep harder, so just be aware of that.  Those of us who are based in the UK know that these parties can start early, so you can try to have anything particularly indulgent early on (which is when you're in best shape to enjoy it, actually).  if it's late, go easy.  If you don't think you'll be eating much but do plan on drinking, a good trick is to eat a big spoon of nut butter just before you go out.  It won't bloat you, but will line your stomach and should prevent you from feeling trashed after 3 sips of champagne.  I love this one, this one and this one - which is great for on the go, travel & kids.

If you ate early or not a lot and you're peckish before bed, you obviously want things that are easy to digest.  Simple sugars will help restore blood sugar levels and make you feel better; the banana is a classic for a reason.  Honey & toast is recommended too, but I personally think it's too easy to go crazy and have a million slices when your self control is low - a single piece of fruit works better for me.

The Actual Sleeping 💤

Once you're home, try to drink a large glass of water and take a magnesium supplement (I love this one); magnesium help us sleep and it also calms your muscles, promotes good digestion (go easy, it's powerful stuff) and can help clear your head in the morning.  A friend shared that for strategic celebrating she sometimes drinks a bottle of pedialyte (UK equivalent) before and after she goes out, and that it wards off the hangover like a talisman.  I can't personally vouch for this remedy, but it sounds plausible.  Try to make sure your room is cool and dark, and turn off your phone.

Help I'm Trashed and I Can't Get to Sleep ☠️

We've all been there; you go to lie down, and the room starts spinning.  If it's so bad that you feel slightly sick or really dizzy, just get up.  You're not going to get any rest yet.  Don't panic though, just find something you can do to pass the time.  

Don't Do This 💻

For a variety of reasons, but for the purposes of this article we'll focus on its effects on your sleep, don't get on FaceBook.  Or Instagram, or Twitter, or your tv.  Also don't sit there obsessing about what you said, to whom and how someone looked at you with a weird expression on their face. Distract your brain from destructive thoughts like these (what can I say, I like muscles).

Do This 📖

Just try to chill out - listen to some music; if you can focus on a book or some easy, repetitive task like colouring (never tried it but some people love it!), do that.  This may not be the time to get in the bath or light a candle, but you can still try find a calm space with soft light to chill out in until you are feeling like you can lay down.

Help I Woke Up Wired at 4 AM

 
Source   wifflegif.com
 

Of course you may have passed out immediately, only to wake in the middle of the night.  That's because of something called the "rebound" effect - basically once alcohol is out of our system, we are rocket-launched into lighter sleep where we are more likely to wake.  This is why it's better to stop drinking way before you hit the hay - all the alcohol is already out of your system.  But that ship has sailed.  So if you do wake at this time, your brain may be going crazy and you may feel super anxious.  If that happens, I've found it most helpful to simply recognise that this is what is going on, and that I may have to ride out some internal brain craziness.  

If it gets to be too much, you can get up and read a book for a bit (maybe something like this rather than this) - I've found that my brain is calmer once again in the very early morning, and I can usually get back to sleep then.  I personally don't think meditation is going to work in this scenario; your thoughts will just be too all over the place.  But monks pray in the middle of the night and apparently the rest of us used to do this too; so that could be a centring practice as well til the craziness passes.

Do try to get some more sleep though rather than simply starting your day at some insane hour.  You will feel so much better if you can get a few more hours.

Finally, remember that often the best memories are made when we've been able to loosen up and revel a bit.  Try to be kind to yourself, but learn from your experiences too!  They more we get to know ourselves, the easier it is to manage how we feel, which is what this whole wellness thing is really about.

Happy celebrating...and sleeping! 😴😴😴

 

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The PJ Edit

Word on the street is that we should be getting into our PJs an hour before bed to help us mentally transition.  Or maybe I've got that wrong, and I'm just seeing more high-end PJs actually on the street.  Anyhoo, the thing is, I already tend to wear my PJs much more than that...I love a pair that are great for lounging, snacking, TV-ing...but not shopping.  (Sorry America).  But I don't judge - particularly since, yeah, those silk varieties have been street style faves for a few seasons now!  So whether you are skipping through the streets or owning your sofa, here are some of my faves.

 

                      cozy fleece is always yummy

                      cozy fleece is always yummy

                                  black sakura

                                  black sakura

                                Modern day Jane Austen.  So pretty.

                                Modern day Jane Austen.  So pretty.

            Gorgeous colour. Just add fluffy heels for bedroom bunny

            Gorgeous colour. Just add fluffy heels for bedroom bunny

honestly sometimes it is cold enough for a hood         in bed...it just is

honestly sometimes it is cold enough for a hood         in bed...it just is

                                                                                                Hot Angel body not included

                                                                                                Hot Angel body not included


And for dec babies - which is apparently what Mariah Carey used to call her twins.  What can I say PJs make me think of Mariah. 

                               gingerbread ninjas!

                               gingerbread ninjas!

                       bold blues...and bunnies

                       bold blues...and bunnies

                                                                                                       Keeping those tootsies warm

                                                                                                       Keeping those tootsies warm

Fun, Effective Sleepy Things

Everyone loves an excuse to indulge in a new set of pyjamas and other cozy essentials (especially this time of year), and so I thought it'd be fun to quickly catalogue some of my faves, as well as a thing or two that can help make bedtime a bit more fun.

Part of the appeal of sleep as a health and beauty aid is that it is free, simple and, if you are getting enough, enjoyable.  So as we learn more about why sleep matters and how much it can do for us (which is really incredible; if you haven't listened to our podcast that tells you a bit more about why, you can do so here or here), I hope we won't try to make this more complicated than it is.

The fact that so many of us ARE sleep-deprived, however, means that we really could be doing this better.  And it's easier to prioritise something that you think is fun and rewarding, or that you have invested in (see also, investing in cute workout clothes).

So with that mind, here are a few sleep-related toys and joys that actually work to help you on your way to dreamland, and make the whole winding-down to bed process more appealing than everything else that's clamouring for your attention.  Watch out for the best of PJs in our next post.

Sleep Aids & Tools

 
 

From Left to Right

  1. Natural Calm magnesium supplement- this is far & away my best sleep tool. Magnesium is a proven sleep aid, & this sugar-free supplement makes me drowsy quickly.  I take 1 large dose 40 minutes before I want to sleep and it WORKS.  LOVE it.

  2. The travel version - these sachets are great for the plane & help both sleep & digestion, which can be sluggish after flying.

  3. Epsom salts - magnesium can be absorbed through the skin, so pop a large handful into a warm bath & get ready to feel relaxed & sleepy.  Maybe not for every night, but you can also file this one under IT WORKS.

  4. The best face mask - essential when mornings start early (so not this time of year, but highly relevant in summer).  Also great for flying; this version does crowd the eyelid so there's no pressure.  Comfy & effective.

 

From Left to Right

  1. Pukka Night Time tea - a perennial favourite for a reason; it's not stimulating but is comforting.

  2. Sleepytime Extra - the American sleep tea.  I can't say I like this one as much, but some people swear by it!

  3. Thisworks Deep Sleep Pillow Spray - I received this as part of a new mom gift pack.  The idea is that the calming scent of lavender will send you to sleep.  It didn't always do that for me, but it definitely helped with new mom anxiety.

  4. Badger Balm Night Night Balm - I actually prefer a balm to a room spray because you can control the strength of the scent better.  This one is really nice and organic, and apparently ok for kids too!

and finally...

 

Soy Candles

This one comes in interesting scents and pretty packaging (there's a copper shade too).  Candlelight is soft and flattering; definitely gets you in the mood for bed!  Soy candles don't emit the same acrid smoke as paraffin candles and are more eco-friendly too.

 

My Alarm Clock

I love this so much guys.  It wakes you gently by slowly building a glow of sun-like light 30 minutes before your wake time.  If that doesn't rouse you, a gentle tone goes off.  A much better way to wake up than the iPhone.

Bananas & More: Foodie Sleep Aids & Thieves

We are such stuff as dreams are made on...but what ingredients make up a good night's sleep?.  This is an area where you can really geek out and get all tech-y about the best kind of mattress, the most relaxing music to listen to (sorry, but no), and the exact order your bedtime routine should take.  That's cool, but not really our style.  Ditto for wearable sleep monitors; I personally don't feel like I need super specific stats on my sleep patterns and activities (!).  I'll know I've gotten a good nights' sleep because...I slept, and I don't feel tired the next day.  I actually think devices like this can be damaging; what is so pernicious about tracking technology is that it excuses us from really engaging with ourselves and monitoring how we feel.  And with everyone looking for painless ways to unplug and digitally detox, this seems like an obvious place to start...take a break from tech while you are unconscious - it couldn't be easier, right?  Finally, sleep monitors may not be that reliable.  Nevertheless, some people live for this stuff - if that is you, go for it.

Ultimately, as with everything related to health, there is no magic pill that will guarantee a night of awesome sleep (seriously, Ambien will make you do crazy things (starting at 5:27).). I am going to state up front that I think the number 1 thing you can do to sleep better is just spend an hour before bed in your PJs reading a book (free easy and fun - yay!) BUT let's be real: none of us are doing this on the daily. So when you are struggling to fall and/or stay asleep, it can be helpful to have a sense of some tricks you can try to improve the situation. Therefore, welcome to the first post in a series dedicated to briefly cataloguing the things that are supposed to help and hurt our ability to fall and stay asleep. Keeping with our holistic theme, we'll look at everything you can do from how you design your room to how you design your day, touching on diet, movement mentality & more. We'll conclude with what to do when you've gone ahead and done it - had dinner at 10 PM plus half a bottle of rosé (I'm still nostalgic for summer, clearly).

We'll start with food, because it turns out that there's a world beyond warm milk and dry turkey to prime your body for your best bedtime.  Some of the key chemical components of good sleep are calcium, magnesium, B6, and the famous tryptophan.  The concept though isn't to eat foods containing these nutrients immediately before bed (though if you are going to midnight snack, these are better options) but to work them into your diet on a general basis. Nothing groundbreaking here I'm afraid; healthy food is healthy food, but if you are struggling with sleep, it might be worth checking to see if you can include more of these guys in your meals.

Snog, Marry

Melatonin is the hormone released by your body when you sleep, and a recent study has shown that drinking 2 glasses daily of tart cherry juice (which contains melatonin) helped with sleeplessness.  Interesting, but, given that most of us would probably have to go on a bit of expedition to find tart cherry juice, and that, for all it's "tartness", it still quite sugar-laden, I would class this under one to try only if you're really struggling.  Some people find melatonin tablets helpful, but in my experience they don't promote deep sleep and I've recently been told they can be habit forming, so sadly that is another potential shortcut I won't be taking.

More appealing beverages may be warm milk (I guess - yuck) and classic herbal teas like chamomile and lavender.  Again, not exactly novel, but there are some ranges that do more interesting blends these days, like this one.

Avoid

The list of what not to eat is obvious and boring - caffeine in the afternoon, heavy or sugary foods late at night (boo) and too much fun booze all compromise our sleep. Welcome to the world of adult living. What's more interesting is what to do when you've done these things and still want to try to sleep well. That's coming up in another post - check back in soon. Here's a little preview: befriend some mamas, or invest in some pedialyte.

Happy noshing!