Remember when I got my caravan on the road again last year? I’d imagined that my caravan would never move again (which was okay with me, as I was using it as my sewing and writing workshop) so you can can imagine how excited I was to see those wheels turning again. It was towed with ease to our new home and I thought that we might be in for a summer of adventures in the caravan last year. However, the year ran away with me and we never did get round to doing all the little jobs needed to turn my ‘office’ back into a functioning holiday home. This year is going to be different. I’m definitely going to be on the road with my caravan, and do you know why? Because I’m starting the planning for my summer holidays now! That means I’ve got 6 whole months to fit out my caravan with the necessary bits ‘n’ pieces to turn it back into a fully fitted camper. What’s on the list? Well, aside from the camping kitchen and bathroom facilities that I mentioned in my last post, it really needs a new bed and I’ll tell you why.
The average person will spend approximately 25 years sleeping, and with good reason. Whoever said ‘sleep is for the weak’ certainly hasn’t experienced the joys of being horizontal on a Sunday morning. I wonder if there’s a stat out there for the amount of time people daydream of their bed whilst at work? I can only imagine that would be immeasurable. And how many times have you had that late night social media craving? You’ve scrolled on Instagram for an extra 5 minutes, which morphs into an hour (and a half) and then feel completely rubbish in the morning when you’re pressing snooze for the too-manyieth time. Well, they do say you only know what you’ve got when it’s gone, and I think sleep is SO important to make sure I’m happy for the day! It’s time to focus on waking up in the morning feeling refreshed, not wanting to sleep for 5 minutes longer, and certainly not relying on your good friend coffee to pick up all the pieces. The positive effects that a great night’s sleep can have on your well-being are hard to ignore, so here are my top 5 tips for sleeping like a baby…Tea and coffee curfews
You may think curfews are for children, but it never hurts to have a little self discipline, especially when it comes to caffeine. If you’re anything like me, you really love a good brew tucked up in bed— sorry friends, this has to stop. It turns out that while coffee is our primary suspect for caffeine consumption, that crafty hug in a mug we know as tea can contain over half as much. Try and decide a suitable time to have your last sip, for me, tea is prohibited after 6pm. Well, I’m sure I could have a hot chocolate instead..!
After a rather sleepless night earlier this week left me totally drained (and over-emotional!) the following day, I decided to do a little research into the science of sleep. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, about one in three people has some level of insomnia. Sleeplessness can be a pain (especially when you know you’ve got to be up and out early the next morning), but insomnia is more than just a mild annoyance. Insufficient sleep can contribute to serious health problems like depression, hypertension, diabetes, and even cancer. If you suffer from persistent insomnia, you should see a doctor for help. If you just have trouble sleeping from time to time, though, you may have fallen victim to one of these four strange causes of insomnia.1.Brushing with mint flavour toothpaste
Brushing your teeth with strongly mint-flavoured toothpaste in the morning can give you the kick of energy you need to get the day started. Using the same toothpaste at night, however, could make it difficult for you to fall asleep. One study shows that people exposed to peppermint before bedtime stayed awake for 11 minutes longer than those who weren’t exposed to the smell. I watched a documentary on fitness ones, which showed how runner who ate mint while running carried on for much longer than those who didn’t. So I guess the energy-boosting properties of mint must have a negative effect on your sleep pattern too. Instead of using a minty toothpaste at night, choose an option that’s not as intense. Switching to a new toothpaste could help you fall asleep sooner.2. Taking vitamins before bed
Taking a multivitamin helps ensure that your body gets the nutrition it needs to stay healthy. However, taking your vitamins before bedtime could make it hard for you to fall asleep. The problem becomes even worse when you take a B12 supplement. B12 is an essential vitamin that lets your body turn glucose into energy. If you take it before bedtime, you could find yourself feeling stimulated when you need to settle down. Instead of taking your supplements before bed, try taking them after breakfast or lunch. You’ll get a kick of energy when you need it instead of when you want to sleep.
When it comes to relaxation, the key is ensuring you get a night of quality sleep consistently. So how is this possible? Well, to put it simply, it’s always best to seek out the best quality bedding you can. This is really where it all starts…
Do mattress protectors make a difference to my sleep? Frankly, yes, a protector can help you sleep a little better at night. As unhygienic as it sounds, the average sleeper sweats 1-2 pints of sweat every night. This is a very beneficial environment for dust mites; a common source of allergies. An anti-allergen mattress protector creates an obstacle between sleeper and mattress, thereby reducing the likeliness of them developing new allergies. Naturally the hygienic benefits of this are huge! And of course, mattress protectors help a mattress last longer. A waterproof and anti-allergen protector will protect against fluids and dust mites, making it a valuable, cost effective purchase and, importantly, my cats love it too!
Is cotton or a polycotton blend the best option for bed linen? The highest quality bedding is usually 100% cotton, having the advantage of making it breathable; meaning you will definitely sleep well during both winter and summer months. Thread count is certainly a vital element here as a product with high thread count on low quality material will not necessarily produce the finest results. Instead a 100% cotton sheet is the best option, especially if matched with a thread count of around 300-400. I’ve really noticed a difference in comfort since investing in better quality bedding and now I simply cannot wait to get into bed at the end of the day!
Synthetic fibres are added to polycotton blends. While these fibres are stronger than cotton, the fabric will not be as breathable. But of course, if you select coloured sheets and bedspreads then this option proves perfect as blends have a propensity to hold the brightness of the colour perfectly.What sort of cotton should I be choosing?
Cotton can have different weaves as it derives from different sources. It is often stated that the best option for comfort is bed linen that has a sateen finish as it offers another layer of luxury and comes complete with a silky-smooth touch. I’ve even heard that sateen or silky bedding can actually help minimise skin wrinkles and prevent split-ends because your face and hair glides over the pillows without friction. I don’t know if there’s any truth in this, but it can’t hurt to try it out, right?!
How do I choose pillows with the right support?
Another essential criteria in getting a comfortable night’s sleep is selecting pillows that will most likely reduce aches and pains. A great option for this is feather and down filled pillows which are very lavish, with some pillow styles consisting of a double layer – one down and the other duck feather. This dual fabric design plays an essential role in providing sleep support to the head and neck.
Certainly allergies can be worrying. A great solution to this is to choose a hypo-allergenic pillow instead. Siliconised ball fibre pillows are great for those with allergies as they are gentle and demonstrate all the features of a great down pillow. All the ideas mentioned here can also be applied when selecting a duvet too and I love getting out my down duvet in the autumn and snuggling up in a warm bed throughout the winter.
What other items of bedding will help?
In addition to protecting your mattress, a mattress topper will compliment your bedding to generate ultimate comfort. Why not splash out and treat yourself? The selections on offer often consist of the same filling as pillows and duvets. Silky, plump down/feather toppers (which I have on my bed at the moment!) will give you a sumptuous sleeping experience.
Investing in a range of these items for your bedrooms will result in improved sleep and protect your mattress – not to mention yourself! – proving to be a cost effective purchase. Let me know if you currently use any of the above in your home and whether it makes a difference to the quality of your sleep; leave me a comment below or tweet me @Cassiefairy.
Are you one of those people who can sleep anywhere? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve fallen asleep? Do you enjoy a good daytime nap? I have many pals who can nap sitting up, can grab some zzzs on a bus and who have even fallen asleep into their lunch (during our late-night student days). I’ve never really been one of those people. I’d like to nap while I’m on public transport and enjoy the benefits of not having to drive, but I worry that I will miss my stop and end up in Scotland! Even a sleep-deprived me would soldier on and not nap – I was more likely to cry from being over-tired than put my head down for forty winks during the day. But recently things have started to change…
Whether it’s due to getting a little older or having a more active lifestyle something is tiring me out. I don’t know what it is but one thing’s for sure; I’ve started to nod off in cars. I get a happy sleepy feeling when it’s warm and cosy – when someone else is driving, of course! I never really fall asleep though, because I like to keep a look out for traffic or hazards even when I’m not the driver. Even so, I’ve started to realise how my cats feel when they simply can’t stay awake any longer, their eyelids get heavy and their breathing slows down. It can be quite funny watching my cats fighting the urge to fall asleep and it’s the same with babies too. How nice it must be to just be able to sleep anytime, anywhere!
I’ve just heard about a competition by Carpetright to win a £700 bed or a luxury glamping holiday with the family which you can enter by sharing photos of your friends or family sleeping in the strangest of places. Just tweet @Carpetright, tag Carpetright in a Facebook status or use @Carpetrightuk in your Instagram captions along with the hashtag #WeirdestPlaceToSleep. I’m pretty sure that no one will be posting photos of a sleepy me; unless my husband snaps a photo during the night – but I’m not sure that ‘in bed’ is a particularly strange place to snooze! Even so, I’m going to be making hot chocolate for all my friends and offering family a blanket to snuggle under when then come to visit in the hope of taking a sneaky photo to enter the competition – of course I would share the prize with them if I were to win, it’s only fair!
Let me know if you can sleep in an unusual place and I look forward to seeing your photos for the competition! The competition closes on 3rd September 2014 so get your entries in now!
This week I’ve been putting memory foam pillows to the test to see whether I can get a better night sleep with a more supportive pillow. If you’ve been following my sleep challenge you’ll know that it has now turned into a massive bedroom makeover – I’ve even wallpapered my walls with books. Today, I’m going back to the root of the challenge, which is improving my sleep as a whole, and not just decorating!
I’ve tried out these memory foam pillows from Dunelm and to begin with they felt really heavy and dense – much ‘sturdier’ than my old bounce-back pillows. I have to be pretty careful with the type of pillow that I sleep on – some pillows simply no good for my neck which has previously suffered from whiplash. Any pillow that isn’t ‘my’ pillow, such as hotels, or staying at friends’ houses results in a painful crick in the neck which can last for days. So I was skeptical about changing my pillows, especially to one that seemed harder and more likely to push my dodgy neck into an uncomfortable position.
Oh how wrong I was. I have had nothing but good nights’ sleep on these pillows and I wake up feeling as if I haven’t even got a neck, and definitely no pain. The memory foam supports my neck in exactly the right position and my head feels practically weightless. I find that I move around less during the night and the pillows bounce right back into their puffed-up shape in the morning. So no problems to report and definitely a better, deeper sleep – plus less pain than I’ve ever experience to date, so that can only be a good thing and I’ll be taking these pillows with me wherever I sleep from now on!
Here are some more of the top tips I’ve been following by Dunelm to make the most of my sleep routine:
- Make sure that you have the right pillow for how you sleep. For example, people who sleep on their front usually need a softer pillow than people who sleep on their side. Here’s our guide to picking the right pillow for you: http://www.dunelm-mill.com/info/pillows
- Help increase your melatonin production by wearing a sleep mask to block out extra light
- If you find yourself awake, try to focus on relaxing as your goal, rather than falling back to sleep. Remind yourself that deep relaxation can still help rejuvenate the body
- If you’re prone to drifting off on the sofa in front of the TV, resist the drowsiness by doing something like washing the dishes or sorting things out for the next day – or take yourself off to bed straight away if it’s nearly your bedtime. If you nod off you may find it harder to sleep all through the night
Earlier this week I mentioned that I’m getting involved in a sleep challenge – sound’s like the best challenge ever, doesn’t it?! Well I started by putting up roman blinds in the bedroom which had a blackout lining with the aim of seeing whether this improved my sleep at all.
First of all I was really pleased that the blinds did actually blackout the windows, so early morning light doesn’t diffuse into the room at all and therefore doesn’t disturb our sleep. I don’t even need curtains anymore, but I have put some up anyway to look pretty – it was rather bare without the curtains and resulted in that airy, echoey atmoshpere you get when you’ve only just moved in to a house. And a bonus result of putting up the blinds is that we no longer get terrible condensation on the windows! After my massive rant last week (see the blog post here) I’ve found the solution; simply put up blackout blinds! I think that the blinds must have a thermal quality (which was not my first consideration when choosing them) but they certainly insulate the windows and stop the horrid condensation – we now only get about 1 inch of misting at the very bottom of the window, which must be where the hot air is sneaking under the blinds. If I take more care to roll them all the way down in the evenings, I think this will completely solve the condensation problem hurrah!
Here are some more of Dunelm’s top tips for better sleep that I’ll be following this month:
- Lie in bed and do some stretching before you try to sleep it will help calm you down and regulate your breathing.
- Wind down with a warm (not hot) bath before bed to help your body reach its perfect resting temperature.
- Stop night time worries by writing your next day’s to-do list before you go to bed, this should stop you from running through everything while you are trying to drift off.
- Experts say that mattresses should be replaced every 7-8 years. If you’re struggling to get comfortable then it might be time to invest in a new mattress.
So the next step in the sleep challenge is to sort out the bed. I quite like my current mattress and certainly sleep better on my own bed than anywhere else (why is that always the case?) but I’m willing to admit that it could be improved and I’ve tried out this Dunelm mattress topper. I’ve always fancied having one of those memory-foam mattress toppers ever since watching TV infomercials selling them back in the Noughties. At the time, the price was too prohibitive and as they have reduced in price over the years, I’ve kind of gone off the idea. I think a mattress topper would roll up at the corners or create uncomfortable creases underneath my sleeping body. It can’t possibly stay flat and in the right place with all of the wriggling around I do at night. There was a time when I was a student that I didn’t have a mattress at all and just slept on layers of duvets and the above happened every day so I wasn’t too keen to repeat that! However, I’ve decided on a quilted rebound mattress topper instead, mostly because it has straps that attach it to the mattress which will hopefully minimise the movement problem! Also, it’s still a lot cheaper than all of the memory foam options out there so if I can get the same result of a better nights sleep without excessive cost, I’m happy! I will let you know how I get on 🙂
Sounds like my favourite type of challenge. A challenge to sleep. Brilliant. In fact, when I first heard about Dunelm’s sleep challenge, I couldn’t believe it and thought that it must be too good to be true – they want to challenge me to get a better nights sleep over 30 days? This challenge is right up my street! I told them that sleep is one of my favourite things (and that I’m good at it!) and they asked me if I would like to put that to the test…
There are loads of things you can do to get a better nights sleep – here are just a few of the things that Dunelm have suggested and I’m going to make a concerted effort do them all this month:
- Ban the TV and food from your bedroom – it should be a place of relaxation and rest so getting rid of distractions will help your mind and body relax (we don’t have a TV in the bedroom but I must remember not to take cheeky snacks to bed with me oops!)
- Try wearing a pair of socks before you go to bed, research suggests that warming your feet before bed helps your body relax (Sounds lovely and snuggly to me, so bed-socks are on the to-do list!)
3. Install Blackout blinds in your bedroom to block out light from the outside that might disturb you. See our range here: www.dunelm-mill.com/shop/curtains/blackout/ (I have badgered hubby to put up blackout blinds and they are finally in place – see pic above!)
4. Create a bedtime routine for yourself – just like children, adults benefit from having a set of actions that they always do before bed. It helps your mind prepare itself for sleep (I will quite enjoy having a bit of a wind-down before bed and will even try to ban using technology for half an hour before bed)
5. Cut out your afternoon cup of tea or coffee – even if you don’t feel like it affects your sleeping, caffeine is a stimulant and you should notice a difference (not sure about this one, because I LOVE my cups of tea, but I’ll give it a go for the sake of the challenge and maybe swap that evening cuppa for a Horlicks or something)
So here I am with parcels full of goodies from Dunelm and a promise of a better nights sleep. What more could a girl want? I’ll let you know how I get on! Please tweet me with any tips on getting a better nights sleep @Cassiefairy and use hashtag #30daysofsleep 🙂