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Getting a good night's sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? And if not, do you know what to do about it? I get press releases almost every day about sleep, it's clearly a big problem, so I thought I would write a blog post about it.

There is a clear link between sleep and the quality of one's wellbeing. Getting a good night's sleep can improve mood and productivity, whereas a bad night's sleep impacts energy, stress and anxiety levels. In a recent survey, an incredible 74% of people said that good quality sleep was 'the most important' factor of all. Second was mental health at 55%, followed by family at 41%, exercise at 40% and diet at 38%.

Good sleep improves mood, concentration and supports good mental health. Of those surveyed, 46% admitted to feeling stressed, and 47% said they felt unproductive following a bad night's sleep. Which highlights just how important the benefits of creating a calm sleep environment in the home are.

As you can imagine, I have gained a lot of knowledge about the benefits of good bedroom design and the best beds and bedding to choose over the years, so read on for my recommendations. The things to focus on are calming colours, a good quality mattress, the right lighting, not being too hot or too cold, and comfortable bedlinen - all helpful in getting a good night's sleep.

Soothing colours

Now this is described as a teen's bedroom, well not any teens I have ever known, that's for sure! It feels incredibly calming doesn't it? Use soft, off-white on the walls but with panelling and carving to make it interesting. A pastel pale blue colour on the padded bed, which looks so comfortable with the addition of pink fluffy cushions and a pale wooden floor. Isn't that cloud light fantastic too? You can find a similar one here Image: Cafe Latte

This colour scheme is a bit stronger with a mid blue on the walls and woodwork. Blue is an ideal colour for the bedroom as it promotes calmness and tranquility, reminding us of blue skies and the colour of the ocean. But pick a shade with a touch of red in it so that it doesn't feel cold and it's probably best not to use blue in a north-facing room. Including a rose coloured, velvet padded bed, instantly makes the room look warmer and is a great complementary shade to the blue. Image:

Choosing the right bed

This is my bedroom at home with my Button & Sprung handmade bed. It is soooo comfortable, and the best thing about it is that it is made from all-natural materials, so not only are you sleeping on natural fillings, which has got to be good for you and will aid getting a good night's sleep. And when it comes to the end of it's life, it won't end up in landfill, it's completely bio-degradable, and that makes me feel good.

The best bedding

Yes these are sheep, in front of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire where I was lucky enough to go recently. One of my favourite brands and one I have championed for a long time is The Woolroom who make their bedding from, well, wool (hence the nice shot of sheep) and they have created the Chatsworth collection using wool exclusively from the Chatsworth estate to add to their usual ranges.

This is what the bedding looks like. The Woolroom make wool-filled duvets, pillows, mattress protectors, toppers and pillow covers. So you are always sleeping on, and in, a natural product - ideal for getting a good night's sleep. A lot of people worry that wool bedding will be too hot or scratchy, but I can assure you, it's not, it has a cotton cover so your body is not in contact with the wool, unless you decide to take it out of the pillows, or add to it, and when you feel it, it's supersoft. Natural wool has been scientifically proven to improve sleep quality, with research suggesting that wool bedding can actually help provide up to 25% more stage four regenerative sleep - the point at which our body is thought to do the most repair and regeneration of cells. The duvets are available in light, medium, warm and all season's warmth and weights and in five different sizes. Mattress protectors are either standard or extra deep and toppers come in eight different sizes. 'We spend almost a third of our lives in bed,' says Chris Tattersall, Managing Director of The Woolroom, 'so it's important to know that what we sleep on and under are sustainable, so we are delighted to be leading the charge by partnering with British Wool on our new Wool ID scheme, so you know what is in your bedding, what it's made from and where it came from to create quality, organic, luxury products for a better night's 'clean' sleep. Clean sleep is a campaign to create awareness of your own unique sleep environment and the benefits to your mental health. Wool has also long been recognised as a fibre that reduces exposure to allergens with the ability to absorb and neutralise VOC's (volatile organic compounds) and can also resist dust mites.'

Image: The Woolroom

Sleep and the menopause One of the most common symptoms of the menopause are night sweats. You go to bed fresh and comfortable, then wake up in the middle of the night feeling hot and sweaty. So if you think wool will only make the situation worse, think again, wool is a natural fibre and has the ability to absorb and desorb (ooh new word!) moisture and regulate temperature, so it's great for ensuring your body stays cool, and moisture is kept away while sleeping. A wool mattress, mattress protector or topper, pillow and duvet, is a great way to keep your body at the right temperature. It can help reduce overheating at night and provide the ideal sleep environment. Combine with loose cotton or silk nightwear to wear in bed to help in getting a good night's sleep.

Some other things to try are:

Avoid spicy food - it can cause spikes in your body temperature.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol - it has the same effect as spicy food

Use a smaller pillow - large pillows trap heat from your head so opt for something more compact

Buy a peppermint spray to cool down hot feet. Cooling your feet and hands are the quickest way to bring down your core temperature. Have a glass of water by the bed - take a sip if you feel hot or dab it on your wrists to help you cool down

Try deep breathing, it will regulate your breathing, calm you down and hopefully help you to drop off to sleep Information: MattressNextDay

The ultimate bedlinen

As far as I am concerned, once you have slept in 100% linen bedding, there is no going back. It just feels soooo wonderful. Again, it has the same natural qualities as wool bedding, it will keep you cool in summer and warm in winter - the combination of wool bedding and linen bedlinen is a sure-fire winner. 'Sleep is quite honestly my favourite thing to do,' says Molly Freshwater, creative director of Secret Linen Store "I could go on about bedtime rituals and winding down with candles and softly playing sounds of streams and panpipes but the truth is, I don’t have time for any of that because I’m already asleep. My secret is 100% Linen, the secret weapon to getting a good night's sleep. At the moment the colour is Conker, our dark rich reddish brown bedding, which might sound like a strange choice for summer, but I honestly find the colour so calm and inviting, I’m off to bed before it’s dark these days. Linen has a texture like butter, it’s textured natural surface makes the light dance across it and mixed with a good mattress and our feather filled pillows, there are not many better things in life. Linen is also better for the planet than cotton as it takes less water to grow and process which is a big tick in our bedtime book.'

Good lighting

The last thing you want before a restful night's sleep is harsh lighting, so turn off overhead lights and have lamps next to the bed to cast a soft light and so you can read, one of the best things for getting you off to sleep. Use a warm white bulb rather than cool white. Cosy flooring

Personally I think there is only one way to go with flooring in the bedroom, and that is carpet. Maybe it's because I live in a cold house, but come the Autumn when the heating bills go up again, you will be glad of it. It makes the room feel warm, it's soft underfoot, it's a good insulator and it's a great way to add pattern and colour to a bedroom scheme. This one is called Golden Effie by Timorous Beasties for Brintons.

Adopt a wind-down bedtime routine

Have a stretch

Gentle movements before bed can help you destress and improve your mood, which can help the body settle before getting under the sheets. It’s important to keep these exercises light and low impact in order to aid sleep quality. Head rolls, bear hugs and the seated butterfly are some effective stretches to get started with.

Listen to music Music triggers a dopamine response similar to food, exercise and sex that gives our bodies a positive feeling. This can decrease the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which is known for heightened alertness and heart rate. Slow and classical music, and instrumental sounds such as the rainforest are the best at helping you feel sleepy. Dim the lights Too much light exposure before bed can dramatically affect the quality of your sleep as your body can associate this light with sunlight during the day. Try switching the bulbs in your room to a warmer yellow hue or opt for a side lamp instead of the main light. Sip a warm drink There are plenty of options to choose from for a calming beverage to help you doze off. Herbal teas and warm milk are often a go to choice however, cherry juice and coconut water are also popular as they promote muscle relaxation. Ensure that whatever you drink,it is caffeine free.

Write down thoughts After a busy day, it is easy for the mind to still be active, especially during the later hours of the evening. This can stop us drifting off to sleep. Writing all your thoughts down on paper can help to clear the mind before bed. Refer back to this the following day to pick up on anything important. Limit caffeine consumption The half-life of caffeine can be up to several hours, meaning that it is more likely to keep people awake the later in the day it’s consumed. If you’re a coffee lover try and keep your consumption towards the beginning of the day and ease off towards the early afternoon. By the time you’re getting ready for bed, the caffeine should have cleared from your bloodstream. Put the phone down Our phones and devices all emit a sensitive blue light that can inhibit the ability to sleep if used too close to bedtime. Most devices have a nighttime function that will give the screen an orange tone which can be utilised to help you drift off easier. Choose a scent Lighting a candle or diffusing an essential oil as a form of pre-bed aromatherapy can help induce a calm state in the room. Lavender has long been associated with creating a soothing atmosphere as well as vanilla and jasmine. Take a bath or shower

Taking a warm bath or shower can help aid a better night's sleep as it helps to regulate the body’s natural internal temperature. Not only this but there are links between this warm water exposure and lowered blood pressure. The steam can also help nasal congestion if you have a cold, allowing for an easier rest.


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