I got a bit of a lie-in this morning, because instead of taking the dogs out first thing, I’d arranged to meet friends later in the morning. This doesn’t often happen, and I wasn’t sure the dogs would co-operate, but they actually seemed happy to go back to bed for another forty winks for a change, so I managed some quality doze time until 9am. Bliss.
It made me think about what makes my bed such a comfy refuge, and the things which make for a great night’s sleep. Obviously you need decent foundations – a mattress with no wayward springs and a nice plump pillow. I have memory foam ones after I ‘discovered’ them in an AirBnB in Copenhagen and had several amazing nights of deep sleep. But aside from that, what are the best ways to get a great night’s sleep?
1) Bed Linen
For me, the most important thing is good sheets. For a long time I was not particularly fussy about this. Match my decor? Yes. Fit the bed? Yes. Clean? Mostly. They’ll do. I wasn’t a great believer in spending a lot of money, because even if you take good care of them, they can still start to feel a bit ‘grubby’ (in a sense of old, I do wash them!) and I preferred to buy a new set more regularly (plus, you get the delight of new bedding more often). I also wasn’t taken in by all the nonsense about thread count – a marketing ploy by the way, and with no real connection to quality – so seeing high thread count sheets going for crazy prices I laughed and carried on buying bedding from supermarket ranges or if I was feeling spendy, Cath Kidston.
But then everything changed. I slept on linen sheets. O.M.G. Simply the softest, cosiest, most cocoon-like experience I’ve ever had. But a pricey one to replicate at home, with the majority of duvet covers starting at well over £100 for a double. I found H&M Home did a gorgeous looking set for the amazing price of £59.99, but they didn’t do them in king size at the time, but happily they now do, and I am the proud owner of the grey covers with both dark and light grey pillow cases. Possibly one of the best buys I have ever made for my home! Cosying up in these on cold Yorkshire nights has been complete bliss, and it’s actually pretty hard to get up in the mornings now! (Okay, so there is a downside to them after all).
I am now sad when its time to change the sheets, even though my others are lovely too, they just don’t quite compare. Now I am hoping for a lottery win so I can switch all the bedding on all the beds in our house to gorgeous soft linens. I particularly have my eye on this beautiful striped set of blended linens for summer from Parachute, a company which manufactures all its sheets in Tuscany, a region of Italy known for its textiles. My favourite thing about them is that for every sale of their Venice bed set, they donate a bed net to help prevent the spread of malaria in Africa. Beautiful and ethical. I can get on board with that!
2) Cosy blankets
Layers and layers of soft fabrics make for the cosiest nights sleep, so whether you choose a big bedspread or piles of blankets, the more the merrier as far as I am concerned. You can always kick them off if you get too hot, but the chances of getting out of bed in the middle of the night to go in search of another one are pretty slim! Without wishing to sound like I’m sponsored by H&M Home (I’m not, I promise, but I do love them!), one of my favourites is this lovely herringbone wool blanket which was a steal at £24.99. Parachute also do some beautiful cashmere throws which sound super snuggly.
A nice soft cushion or two never goes amiss either. Ste bought me some lovely velvet ones from Cox & Cox for Christmas, which are just the right amount of feather-stuffed to be like little pastel clouds.
3) Relaxing Ambience
This means candles. Or at least, soft light (not a glaring overhead), and definitely no technology (sorry Ste!). At the moment I am still in love with my Insolite from Diptyque, which I bought because it smelled like Christmas to me, but I am still loving even long after the festive season. It is such a homely scent.
Another killer sleep accessory is my Molton Brown Relaxing Yuan Zhi Sleep Mist, which I always use to help me drift off if I’m having trouble getting to sleep. It is a lovely calming scent, and now whenever I spray it on my pillow I find myself drifting off straight away, even on those nights when your mind is running in circles or your body feels extra wired. I used to have a lavender one I bought in France but the smell of this is a little less overpowering but does the job brilliantly. I’ve also heard great things about the This Works … Sleep! range, which I might try when this runs out. Whatever you choose, a relaxing scent can really help you to wind down and drift off. My moisturiser is also gorgeous, Korres Pomegranate. I like the idea of using only completely natural products at night to allow your skin to recover and repair itself, and this is also managing to reduce the scaly skin I’ve developed on my cheeks from too many long bracing dog walks in the Yorkshire countryside!
4) A good book
Not everyone is a reader, I appreciate, but I love nothing more than reading a few chapters of a gripping novel before bed. At the moment I am working my way through Game of Thrones, just keeping ahead of our binge-watching the box sets. I find a bit of escapism before sleep a wonderful thing if you’ve got a lot on your mind, though choose your book carefully – it does have to be said that I’ve had a few rather vivid and interesting dreams of late!
5) Sleep socks
This is something I have only recently discovered, having never really liked wearing socks in bed before. However, it has made such a difference to how I’ve slept in the recent cold weather. There’s some rule about keeping your feet warm to keep the rest of you warm, and I can certainly agree that it works – I have not woken up feeling chilly once since wearing some soft woolly socks to bed. I might even have to invest in some cashmere ones, like these from the White Company.
There is one other thing that I am convinced makes for a good night’s sleep or a cosy lie-in, and it’s this:
A beautiful furry friend to keep you company.
What are your bedtime essentials?