Usually it’s a once a week or so affliction, but my insomnia got properly bad in January of last year in the leadup to my wedding. I dismissed this as being a typical pre-wedding anxiety-induced phenomenon, and fully expected my circadian rhythm to resume its usual course after the wedding, but the near nightly insomnia continued well into the months that followed.
It’s still something I regularly struggle with – I’m averaging about one night a week of very patchy sleep – and suspect it’ll be a lifelong complaint to some extent. I’m well aware that a few beauty products won’t solve your insomnia, but both the substance of the stuff inside, and the calming rituals that they can carve out, can help create optimum conditions for good – or, at least, some – sleep. Obviously, this is in addition to practices like meditation and exercise (I recently re-committed to a proper routine purely for its sleep-ameliorating benefits).
For me, I like my relaxing scents to be warm and cosy – I don’t mind if they’re even a little gourmand and dessert-like. This body butter from The Body Shop is reminiscent of the traditional pre-bed concoction of milk and honey, and just as soothing (the matching shower gel is equally lovely). Their formula is a classic for a reason: it sinks in beautifully but isn’t too light and insipid. It’s comfortingly thick and leaves limbs feeling soft until morning.
Lush’s Sleepy Body Lotion is almost mythic in reputation: some people swear they need to lather it on in order to get a good night’s sleep. I envy those who have found their magic sleep potion – alas, it doesn’t fulfil that role for me – but I still find its heady lavender scent deeply relaxing, and conducive to shuteye.
I became reliant on sleep masks many years ago when I was trying to get over a bad case of jet lag, and have since been unable to quit the habit. And in my years of using them, I’ve concluded that sleep masks are very much not created equally. By far my favourite I’ve tried is the Classic Lavender Eye Mask from British brand Holistic Silk. Where to start? They come with adjustable ties, which means you can fit them exactly to your taste: a small but appreciated detail that I’ve missed when I’ve used other masks. They are stuffed with crushed lavender petals, and the inside is lined with soft velvet which feels heavenly on the skin. And they are quite simply objects of beauty in their rainbow of silken hues: my favourite is the elegant grey-blue colour embroidered with pretty cherry blossoms.
I believe a large part of creating a relaxing pre-bed routine relies on exactly that: routine. It boils down to committing to the same series of relaxing products and practices every evening that, whether through the placebo effect or not, primes your mind to expect winding down and then, with some luck, sleep. This Works Sleep Plus Pillow Spray is a perfect example of this: it’s a beautiful scent, a mix of the classic soothing notes lavender and camomile, which over time when spritzed liberally over your bed linens you come to associate with shuteye.
Now to an unusual but very interesting option: Bed of Nails’s Acupressure mat. Dotted with 8820 (!) acupressure nails, you’re encouraged to lie on it for around 20 minutes a day to enjoy many of the same benefits as a trip to an acupuncturist. It’s not as sadistic or painful as it might appear at first glance: in fact, it’s fairly pleasant in a bracing sort of way, not unlike body brushing, really. I find lying on it a quasi-meditative practice that brings me out of my head and help me to focus on my body and surroundings.
While doing this I’ll having a candle burning: I’m currently very much enjoying Glasshouse’s Forever Florence (a bouquet of bold flower notes with a hum of warming amber and musk underneath) and then put my legs up the wall. I picked up this habit from Silvia, a therapist at Sydney salon Pamperina, who recommended it for its lymphatic system-boosting qualities. I personally find it immensely relaxing and grounding, and can lay on the acupuncture mat at the same time as I can catch up on my Instagram feed (screentime before bed is famously not ideal, but we all must have our vices, mustn’t we?).
And then to bed, and with a little luck, restful and uninterrupted sleep. Or perhaps not. But at least I’ll have done my utmost to get some good quality shuteye, and I’m certain the above habits do contribute to my having more good nights than bad.
Story by Tess de Vivie de Régie. Holding shot of Claudia Schiffer by Steven Meisel, 1993.