We each experience sleep differently and at different points in our lives. For some, sleep will inherently be more challenging. There are various factors such as stress, work, health, caring responsibilities and other life challenges that can impact how quickly it takes to fall asleep, how much sleep we actually get and whether we experience sleep disturbances. One thing that can give us the best chance of good sleep is by introducing some helpful habits.
Effectively, having good sleep hygiene is about having a good sleep routine, one that is fairly consistent and conducive to sleep. Things such as going to bed and waking at the same time, avoiding screens at least one hour before bed, taking time to unwind, have a soothing bath, minimising caffeine and alcohol, lighting a candle and creating an environment as well as some rituals that your body and mind will associate with sleep.
To help you find your own way in creating the right conditions for sleep, and with Christmas fast-approaching, the below are a range of different sleep aids that can form a part of your ritual for bed, things that you may wish to gift yourself or a loved one. Start the process around an hour before bed, make it an act of self-care and something that will nourish you.
To boost serotonin: Yumi Bedtime 5-HTP Gummies
What’s all the fuss about 5-HTP? There’s increasingly more products on the market containing 5-HTP, and here’s why.
Firstly, it’s said to increase serotonin levels in your body which, in turn, produces melatonin to regulate your sleep. 5-HTP is actually an amino acid that our body produces naturally but can't be sourced from our diets.
Yumi Gummies are said to naturally improve your sleep and overall wellbeing and promote a longer and higher quality rest. The supplements contain Griffonia Seed Extract: 100mg, 5-HTP: 99mg and Passiflora Extract: 20mg.
Simply chew two passionfruit-flavoured Bedtime gummies around half an hour before you go to sleep. For some, the gummies can work on an ad-hoc basis, as and when needed, and others may need to take over a period of a week or two in order to build up 5-HTP levels.
Priced at £14.99, they're available from www.yuminutrition.com.
For understanding how to change sleep: The book Wake Up To Sleep by Charlie Morley
This is a book which should be on every insomniac’s wish list this Christmas. Charlie Morley’s latest book, Wake Up to Sleep (5 Powerful Practices to Transform Stress and Trauma for Peaceful Sleep and Mindful Dreams), was released this month, and explores how to overcome stress and trauma in order to achieve restful sleep.
The book shares more than 20 body, breath, sleep and dreaming techniques proven to help reduce anxiety and improve sleep. I’ve tried all of these practises first-hand during the ‘course of the book’, which Charlie also teaches, and includes a range of practises to increase deep relaxation and breathwork to regulate the nervous system.
Regardless of whether you're currently going through a period of poor sleep or not, these practises are helpful tools to have in your armoury, should you need them at some point.
Wake Up to Sleep by Charlie Morley is £9.25 and available at Amazon and all good booksellers.
For a little luxury before bed: Espa Restful Bath and Body Oil
Never underestimate the power of scent and texture. Starting your evening with a good soak is a lovely way to begin your bedtime ritual. The Espa Restful Bath & Body oil with lavender, clary sage, bergamot and Omegas 6 and 9 is one way to tap into a little luxury before bed.
Surprisingly, using just two small capfuls of the bath oil allows you to feel as though your bathing in a rich, luxurious oil good-enough for Cleopatra herself. As you emerge from the bath expect to feel soaked in silk from head to toe in the most delightful way.
Alternatively you can use it as a relaxing massage oil for pulse points. Your skin will feel soft and your senses fully bathed in this lulling aromatherapy blend.
You can get the oil at www.espaskincare.com for £36.
For an everyday soak to help unwind: Westlab Bathing Salts
The theory is that if you soak in a bath drawn with Epsom salts, the magnesium is supposed to soak into your body and through your skin to aid deep relaxation. This mix of dead sea mineral salts from Westlab is a wonderful mixture containing essential oils jasmine and lavender as well as valerian. It’s one of the loveliest Epsom fragrances I’ve encountered to date.
It’s affordable price tag means it can become a regular ritual as part of your sleep routine, providing a good signal, so the body knows it’s time to sleep soon.
Grab yours for £6.99 from Boots, Westlab Salts or Look Fantastic.
For an aromatic experience without a bath: Blossom Shower Oil
The Bloom and Blossom And Breathe, Relaxing Shower Oil is an ingenious and also somewhat quirky idea. It’s a relaxing bedtime shower oil spray with a gorgeous fragrance to help you land after a busy day and prepare for sleep. It’s a great way to make showers a little bit special.
If you want to indulge in a bedtime ritual without running a daily bath, this shower oil does just that. With frankincense, ylang ylang and lemongrass, you simply spray the oil all over your body before taking a warm shower. (Alternatively, you can also pour into a running bath if you’d like to.) It’s vegan and uses 100% natural ingredients.
And Breathe, Relaxing Shower Oil is £20 from Look Fantastic, Feel Unique, Next and Very.co.uk.
For all-night-long comfort: Silk Pillow Case
There are silk pillow cases and there are silk pillow cases. I’ve tried a silk pillowcase before and nothing beats the This is Silk Pillow Case. Unsurprisingly it won the 'Best Buy' award in the Independent for the ability to reduce wrinkles and soften skin.
It’s a beautifully made, pure, snow white colour and the softness is exquisite. Not only do silk pillow cases add that element of sensory comfort to sleep but apparently it helps with fine lines and sleep creases on your face too AND calms frizz and prevents bedhead.
Plus, if you use facial serum, it helps with that too. It’s machine washable, though it’s advised to use washing detergent that can be used for silk. The ultimate Christmas present for tired friends – try pairing with pillow spray or a candle.
At £49.99, this Silk Pillow Case is available from www.thisissilk.com.
For relaxation during each stage of sleep: Olverum Restful Sleep Pillow Mist
Pioneers of green beauty, and beloved by the British Royal family, Olverum Restful Sleep Pillow Mist is a really soothing addition to your sleep ritual. The pillow mist is a vegan, cruelty-free unisex fragrance.
The thing I loved about the pillow mist is that each of the aforementioned oils used is said to help each stage of your night time sleep cycle to help improve sleep quality. Containing bergamot oil for Stage One Sleep, which elevates mood as you settle to sleep; high altitude lavender oil for Stage Two Sleep proven to improve sleep quality; geranium oil which is said to calm and amyris oil for healing to support restoration during Stage Three Sleep; and Roman Chamomile oil for deep restful sleep during Stage Four Sleep. So much thoughtfulness in a simple pillow spray.
It's £25 for a 50ml bottle of Olverum Restful Sleep Pillow Mist, available from www.olverum.com.
For nutritious comfort in drink form: Relax Herbal Bed Time Drink
Dr David Jack (medical doctor and member of the Royal College of surgeons) has created a bedtime drink, Relax, which contains 17 ingredients with relaxing and mood boosting effects. It’s effectively a supplement which comes as a naturally flavoured powder that is mixed with hot water to create a fortified hot chocolate-salted caramel drink.
Relax uses adaptogens, which are used in traditional Chinese and aruvedic medicine to regulate the effects of stressors on the body, including Holy Basil, Maca, Ashwagandha, Cordyceps Mushrooms, Astragalus, Liquorice Root and Rhodiola Rosea, with Nootropics (supplements which may improve certain aspects of cognitive function including mood and motivation) including 5-HTP, GABA, Choline and L-Theanine.
The verdict? It’s a bit like a herbal Horlicks drink but with ALL the good stuff. A really soothing way to send you off.
At £59, you can get the Relax Bedtime Drink from drdavidjack.com.
For guided support as you drift off: Morphée
One of the loveliest things about Morphée is that it’s non-digital, which means that you avoid further blue light from screen time as well as any digital waves, which can also interfere with sleep. There are over 200 sleep sessions ranging from music, nature sounds, breathing exercises, heart coherence, guided meditations and more. Although it includes a battery you simply charge up the devise, unplug, and use this portable sleep support to guide you into sleep.
It’s beautifully made and includes a beech wooden shell to protect the keys and dials, and because it’s portable, it’s a super-handy devise to take away on trips away. Sessions are led by a team of sleep experts, supervised by Florence Binay, a sleep-focused sophrologist. Possibly my favourite thing about it is that it uses sophrology - a form of therapy used to relax the mind and alleviate anxieties, by returning the listener to what happening in the here and now. What a gift! Beautiful on so many levels.
Priced at £79.95, you can pick up the product at www.morphee.co.
For waking up with fresh eyes: The Clean Market's OkiOki
Eye masks can be both a great comfort and a way to block out light and remain asleep should light interfere with your sleep. Not only does the OkiOki sleep mask do that but it also contains micro-encapsulation technology to take care of the delicate eye area.
The eye mask is infused with hyaluronic acid to help retain moisture in the skin to keep it tight and youthful. This way, you are treating your eye area while you sleep, boosting the levels of hyaluronic acid in your skin to wake up looking radiant. It is suitable to use every night and ideal for travel.
At £49.95, you can get the OkiOki Hyaluronic Acid Eye Mask at thecleanmarket.co.uk.
For interstellar relaxation: SpaceMasks
What’s not to love about a soothing, warm mask covering your tired eyes? These are the ultimate stocking fillers for worn out and sleep-deprived friends. They’re also a great gift to slide into an envelope, along with card, to a friend who needs a pick-me-up.
SpaceMasks are designed to used either before bed or at any time you need to rest. Each SpaceMask is jasmine infused and there are five in a box and once you’ve opened the pouch, you simply place the SpaceMask over your eyes and the loops over your ears. Recline and enjoy. The heating process works by a thin layer of iron filings entwining with the oxygen molecules – entirely safe and incredibly relaxing.
Grab your box of five SpaceMasks for £15 from www.feelunique.com.