A good night’s sleep is important for both our physical and mental health. Here, the Stylist team shares the one step that helps them get some solid rest.
In times like these, it’s normal if you’re struggling to sleep. Stress and anxiety can have a huge impact on the quality of our sleep, which is why it’s important we take the time to wind down before bed.
“It is of vital importance that we value our need for good, restorative sleep particularly in today’s fast paced and technologically-driven world,” explains Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep expert at Silentnight. She stresses that we need sleep, both quality and quantity, to recover from the endeavours of our day and to give ourselves the resilience to tackle whatever life throws at us – something that is more important than ever given the current situation.
“Winding down properly and getting five or six hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep is far better than seven or eight hours of broken sleep,” says Dr Ramlakhan. To help you relax, she suggests looking into relaxing essential oils, such as lavender (“lavender is proven to slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality and promote relaxation”), yoga or having a bicarbonate of soda bath.
“To wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead you need to put the ground work in at bedtime” she explains. “This doesn’t necessarily mean going to sleep earlier, but it does mean starting to wind down earlier in the evening. A perfect way to do this is with a hot bicarbonate of soda bath 60-90 minutes before bed.”
To create the perfect bath, Dr Ramlakhan advises adding two big mugs of bicarbonate of soda to comfortably hot water and to immerse yourself completely for 20 minutes. “The bicarbonate neutralises the skin’s acidity, softens dry skin and is a good aid in detoxification. Don’t use soap or shampoo as the chemicals will reduce the effect. Rinse off and go to bed soon afterwards. You will feel very tired, sleep well and find it much easier to get up in the morning.”
Of course, not everybody has a bath – or you might not like them altogether – but there’s still a long list of things you can try to ensure a good night’s sleep. To give you some inspiration, the Stylist team shares the one step that helps them unwind before bed…
Jazmin Kopotsha, deputy digital editor
“I don’t do this often enough but once a week I try to lightly oil my scalp with Keracare’s High Sheen Glossifier, £5.39, and moisturise the ends of my hair with Shea Moisture’s Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner, £12.99. I’ve got 4C afro hair which is normally tucked away in wigs and weaves, but whenever I wear it naturally, I’ve always found the slow and steady process of treating and wrapping it before bed to be really soothing. Plus, it makes styling my hair in the morning much quicker and easier!”
Rosanna Cole, video producer director
“I’ll always apply a luxurious hand cream – I’m currently using Neom’s Calming Hand Balm, £9 – just after hopping into bed. During the day, I find this an irritating task as I always seem to be required back at my keyboard a lot faster than the time it takes for the cream to sink in, resulting in slippery typing. At night however, I’ll take the time to work the lotion into my skin whilst listening to a podcast. It’s like having a relaxing hand massage each evening before lights out.”
Meriam Ahari, fitness editor
“I’ve had trouble sleeping the past couple weeks with everything going on. I was gifted a ’crystoil’ from Llio, £45 – a lavender-based essential oil with tiny amethyst crystals inside the bottle. Supposedly the fragrance from the oils, in tandem with the frequency of the gemstone, helps to relax, calm and release tension. Whether the crystals have healing properties or not, I’ve found that I feel less stressed and sleep soundly through the night on days I remember to apply it before bed.”
Charley Ross, contributor
“I’ve been using lavender spray on my pillow since I started struggling with my sleep in secondary school. The one I’m using at the moment is from Lordington Lavender, £10, which is a farm in West Sussex near my home town. I don’t use it every night, but as a treat when I need an early night or have had a particularly stressful day and it soothes me almost instantly.”
Main image: Getty