The other week I was very kindly invited to a lovely blogger event hosted at the Artist Residence Hotel in London by Soak&Sleep, who talked us through the ultimate wind down. Soak&Sleep is a bed and bath product company, formally known as Duvet & Pillow Warehouse, based in my hometown of Guildford (yay!) in Surrey. Set up in 2006 by Charlie Hunt, they buy direct from trusted factories, cutting out the middleman and the expensive High Street shops, and instead, giving customers good quality products at affordable prices.
The infectiously enthusiastic brand prides itself on its knowledge and experience of getting the best night’s sleep. Says Hunt: ‘We’re purely focus on bed and bath, we don’t want to be a home brand, and we want to introduce all the qualities of making the most of your moments of relaxation, so we really focus on having deep, deep knowledge of how you sleep, we advise our customers on the right sleeping positions, the right pillows to go with your sleeping positions, the right mattress to support you to sleep.’ This summer for them is the ‘Summer of Linen’, with lightweight, fast-drying towels inspired by Turkish baths, and soft French linen bed sheets for a summery bedroom update (seen here on my own, now, much-improved bed).
While we spent a lovely evening, sampling Pact coffee (decaf of course), sipping a night cap of Courvoisier, doing some yoga stretches and having a pillow consultation to work out the best pillow for each of our own style of sleeping (side sleepers need a bit more support, whereas people who sleep on their stomach can go for a softer, squidgier support)… here, I’ve listed five steps to a better night’s sleep, from calming infusions and scented candles to a good book and a no-tech zone. Enjoy!
Step 1: Do a few yoga stretches and calm breathing techniques to wind down.
The lovely Natasha Kerry taught us a few simple stretches and calming techniques to clear the mind and de-stress before bedtime. This ranged from nostril breathing – holding one nostril closed with your thumb and breathing out, then letting go and holding the other nostril while breathing in, continuing in a regular rhythm – to yoga’s child’s pose to stretch the lower back and arms. I liked the fact that it didn’t have to be a whole yoga class or long routine, taking up an hour of your evening, but just a couple of repetitive movements to calm the breathing down and clear the head. I also like doing 15 minutes of Headspace before bed too, it’s related to mindfulness but is basically a meditation technique, either by focusing on the breath and counting the breaths, or the one I like, where you imagine a warm, glow radiating down your body from the top of your head. It’s incredibly relaxing, both mentally and physically, and helps the problem I have when I’m trying to get to sleep but can’t stop thinking about the things I have to do tomorrow or the to-do list I need to write…
(psst… Natasha also does retreats, the one in Morocco looks particularly tempting…)
Step 2: Invest in great bedlinen.
I love that feeling when you get into a freshly made bed and it’s all clean, crisp and slightly cool to the touch (I often do the Miranda bed dance, if you’ve ever seen that…!) – it’s a similar feeling when you’re at a hotel and climb into a big sumptuous bed that’s far more glamorous than your own! There’s nothing like egyptian cotton, but linen is also a great option for summer – it’s soft, breathable and cool to the skin. Plus it has that relaxed, understated, ‘je ne sais quoi’ French vibe… so there’s no need to spend time getting hot and bothered over the ironing, it looks perfectly good a little crumpled and creased. It also gets softer and softer over time. In fact, I’ve seen it in so many magazines and blogs, linen is definitely having its moment! Soak&Sleep’s 100% pure french linen is made from a natural flax that comes from Nieppe, near the French-Belgian border. It comes in French greys, pale pastels, muted florals and bold stripes. Here, I’ve got the white on my bed, it makes the duvet seem lighter and fluffier – often though winter is the time of year you spend the most time in bed, but this summer I will definitely finding excuses to linger a little longer!
Step 3: Have a hot, calming, infusion tea such as chamomile or jasmine tea.
There’s something very soothing about a hot drink before bedtime, but now that it’s getting warmer hot chocolate can seem a bit rich and heavy. I’m definitely a tea drinker (and a coffee drinker for that matter) so I love a calming infusion before I hit the hay, I don’t know whether it’s the scent or the relaxing motion of taking slow sips and that ‘aahh’ moment afterwards. My favourites are Clipper’s peppermint tea and Pukka’s serene jasmine green and also three chamomiles.
Step 4: Light a scented candle or use a relaxing scent like lavender.
I love having a relaxing, subtle scent next to my bed. I always have this teeny square cushion (about the size of a wallet) filled with lavender that I got from Croatia, it instantly sends me to sleep, or I light a candle before I go to sleep (obviously taking care to blow it out before I nod off…) – I love the look of these new hand poured botanical candles that The Future Kept have just got in, the ‘unwind’ one with relaxing English lavender and sweet marjoram looks particularly good. This Works Pillow Spray also, actually, surprisingly really works, I was really impressed with it – it’s infused with essential oils of lavender, vetivert and wild chamomile and smells lovely.
Step 5: Make the bedroom a no-tech zone, instead opt for a good book or a radio.
A great tip which I try to make a rule in my house – keep the tablets, mobile phones (ok, I sometimes makes exceptions for scrolling through instagram and pinterest…) and laptops out the bedroom and instead replace them with a good book or, what I like, the relaxing tones of Classic FM. I can’t remember where I read it, but apparently it’s recommended to not use technology for an hour before bed, for a better night’s sleep. I know I always find it easier to switch off when I’ve switched off my phone, my computer, my iPad – it gives your head some space away from the plethora of information that spins around our day to day lives. And if you’re a couple, it means you can actually chat about your days instead of both sitting looking at your phones, not talking.
So, there’s my five tips for a better night’s sleep, I hope you enjoy them and have a lovely peaceful evening, and evenings to come, bonne nuit!
Disclosure: The Soak&Sleep bed linen was very kindly given to us at the event. All opinions are, as always, my own.