My perfect bedroom

Morning all, I hope you’re looking forward to a fabulous bank holiday weekend. Even if it is raining!

I’m looking forward to spending several happy hours engrossed in the wonderful, perfect world that sits on the pages of interior design magazines. Thinking about my future home has become a small obsession of mine. I currently rent (but hope to have a lovely home to decorate at some stage), and so for now I satisfy myself by collecting pictures of country kitchens, cosy living rooms and simple, stylish bedrooms in my – bulging! – “Homes” folder.

Of course, the master bedroom would have to be the most chic, luxurious and calming room in the house.  I’d decorate it in soothing, neutral colours and play with textures to create a peaceful but interesting look. A big, beautiful bed would key, topped with the best, most comfortable mattress I could find and my soft alpaca wool duvet. There would be two pretty bedside tables, large enough to accommodate stylish reading lamps, a radio, my daylight alarm clock and flickering, aromatic candles. They’d have drawers and cupboard space for my other essentials (book, magazines, bed socks, SleepPhones, Chillow) as well as other bits and pieces that I don’t want cluttering up my dreamy sleep sanctuary. Clever, invisible storage solutions would mean that there would never, ever be stacks of magazines, heaps of unwashed clothes, toppling piles of paperwork, bags, books, shoes….. I’d feel the daily stresses melt away every time I walked into my lovely bedroom.

Ah, well I can dream, can’t I?

Amy x

Funny little sleep habits

Inspired by Ilene Kleinbaum’s article in The Huffington Post earlier this week “The Great Wake-Up Program: What Helps You Fall Asleep?”, I thought I’d share one of my idiosyncrasies for falling soundly asleep.

Before that, though, I’ll share my other half’s!

My other half will not even consider climbing into bed at night unless it is properly made. Once made (even if he has to make it seconds before climbing in), he will carefully slip himself under the covers, so as not to untuck the sheet from the sides of the bed.

I, meanwhile, hate to sleep enclosed in an envelope of covers. It’s far too constraining for me.

The first thing I do at bedtime is tear the sheets out from under the sides of the mattress, allowing me space to spread out and dangle my feet off the mattress edge, should I wish. I just couldn’t sleep any other way.

So, what about you? What are your sleep preferences?

Amy x

How to boost your happiness tonight

Did you know that one extra hour of sleep each night could make you happier than getting a pay rise?

A University of Michigan study found that making $60,000 more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night. Wow!

Looks like I had a great night’s sleep last night – check out my big cheesy grin, above! : )

Happy snoozing x

Ewwww! What’s lurking inside your pillow?

I was truly horrified when I read this article in the Daily Mail last month: How your pillow is the perfect breeding ground for gruesome array of pests and diseases.

According to the piece, up to a third of the weight of your pillow could be made up of bugs, dead skin, dust mites and their faeces. Following further research, I learned that we all secrete around half a pint of sweat each night causing fungi to grow inside our pillows!

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

Sleep experts advise on changing your pillow every two years, or earlier if it sags at the ends when laid flat on the palm of your hand, or becomes lumpy, flat, hard or loses its shape.

So, think back, when did you buy your pillow? Are you ready for a new one?

Wishing you sweet dreams on lovely pillows,

Amy x

The Sleep Diet

Did you pick up a copy of June’s Red magazine? If so, you can’t have missed the Body special, “More Toned, Less Tired”, all about losing weight through sleep!

The article was based on a new book “The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep” by Dr Michael Breus.

It sounds too good to be true. But, in fact, a number of studies have shown a connection between weight gain and inadequate sleep – see, for example, my blog posts from summer 2010 (Could a lack of sleep be making you fat? and my update a few weeks later). I also know from personal experience that I generally feel more hungry and crave naughty foods after a poor night’s sleep.

If you’ve struggled to lose weight and are regularly sleeping badly, you may find that revising your sleep habits makes all the difference when it comes to losing those extra pounds – as well as boosting your mood and energy levels, improving your health and relieving stress.

As a starting point, check out my top tips and suggestions for sleeping well and make your dream body a reality!

Don’t forget to let me know how you get on x

Make a list!

Life is good : ) So far, this summer has been filled with weddings, hen parties, 30th birthday afternoon teas and catching up with lovely friends. And with more fun times ahead – more weddings, more birthday celebrations and (oh yes!) wedding dress shopping – I can see that this summer is going to be a good one.

Whilst having extra fun stuff in the diary is just great, having a crazier schedule than usual does mean that there’s less time for everything else – and that can start to feel overwhelming and stressful at times. And we all know that stress mixed with anxiety and panic is not a good recipe for top quality sleep. Who hasn’t been awake in the early hours worrying about how they’re going to fit it all in – or maybe that’s just me!

I’ve established a really good habit of list-writing that really helps me when my life is especially full. I love list-writing, especially when I get to tick things off – there’s such a sense of achievement in striking off your to-dos because they’ve been done! Making a list is also great for calming the mind. Once I’ve written something on my list, I can stop dwelling on it, forget about it for awhile and move on to something else.

List-writing is ideal for clearing my mind before I hit the sack as it prevents thoughts and problems from keeping my mind active when I should be sleeping.

It’s also a good idea to keep a notepad and pen by your bed at night – then if you do wake in the night with something extra to add to your to-do list, or the solution to something that’s been bothering you, you can jot it down and go back to sleep.

I’m a big fan of keeping my pretty Liberty notebook at my bedside!

What about you? What are your sleep tips when life becomes hectic?

Amy x

The Sleep Geek appears on TV!

Why is it that exciting stuff always happens when you’re on holiday? In this instance I very nearly missed a key moment in history – the Sleep Geek’s TV debut on BBC Look North, where he talked about the sleep workshops he’s been offering to students in Sheffield ahead of their exams. If it wasn’t for Sheffield United sacking Micky Adams – thereby bumping the Sleep Geek’s story until later in the week – I wouldn’t have seen it. If you did miss it, this article from the BBC website offers a summary – click here.

I have had lots of excitement of my own over the past two weeks or so; South America was just fabulous and almost immediately after my return, I repacked my bags and jumped on the Eurostar to Paris for a friend’s hen weekend! After spending this morning trying to get back on top of things – and deleting a crazy amount of SPAM – my energy is depleting fast. So, for now, here’s just a very brief insight into my trip:

4 countries – Brazil, Chile, Argentina and France

5 cities – Sao Paulo, Santiago, Mendoza, Buenos Aires and Paris

6 beds – Slaviero Executive Jardins (Sao Paulo), W Hotel (Santiago), Tierra Atacama Hotel and Spa (San Pedro de Atacama), Cavas Wine Lodge (Mendoza), Bo-Bo Hotel (Buenos Aires), Hotel Beauchamps (Paris)

7 flights, 2 train journeys

1 wedding – I lasted until 4am, Sao Paulo time!  – and 1 hen weekend

Too much wine!

Not enough sleep!

As you know, I really do love sleep, but sometimes life takes over and you just have to enjoy it! But at some point, it’s time to stop and catch up on the rest you’ve missed. And, now, that time has come. It’s time for a long restful nap with my gorgeous pup, Louis, who I have missed so much.

I’ll post again once I resurface!

Sweet dreams x

A Beautiful Mess

Happy Easter Sunday everyone! Here’s something to inspire you as you’re crunching your way through that bag of Mini eggs!

I just love this blog, A Beautiful Mess.

Written by Elsie, a designer and owner of a very cool boutique, Red Velvet, in Springfield, Missouri. A Beautiful Mess is – in her own words – a lifestyle blog focused on fashion, handmade and pretty things! Very pretty things in fact; so pretty you could spend hours poring over them when you should be working (….ahem!). Not only does Elsie run her boutique, design very pretty dresses and post daily updates on her blog, but she also writes e-courses, has a second wedding-themed blog, Le Wedding Party, is planning her own wedding, looks after a gorgeous pug named Suki and still finds the time to put together amazing outfits, take beautiful photographs and generally just be very cool. How does she do it all?

Well, it turns out that sleep plays a big role. In a recent post “on being a workaholic & still having a life…” she says:

“The second important lesson I’ve learned to keep myself cheerful (and sane) when working a LOT is steady sleep. I used to be really proud of my all night work sessions, but I was drained. These days I sleep eight hours every night and I’ve never been happier. I get more done when I’m awake and, most importantly, I feel human! If you’re a young entrepreneur, give yourself some sanity and go to sleep. Just trust me….♥”

So, there you have it! Enjoy great sleep and you too can be cool, creative and cute like Elsie….maybe in my dreams!

Can’t sleep? It’s not just you…

Just a quick note today folks. If you struggled to sleep last night, I’m here to tell you that you’re not the only one. Even when you’re committed to making healthy sleep choices (that’s me) and you have a wealth of sleep-inducing goodies at your fingertips (me again), sometimes sleep does not come easily.

Sometimes, there seems to be no rhyme nor reason for the sleeplessness. Not this time. This time I can pinpoint the problem exactly – fear! Ever since Monday afternoon when I saw a big, fat rat skipping across the patio right outside my back door, I haven’t been able to enjoy a good night’s sleep. I imagine him and his ratty family scurrying around my house at night, I listen for the sounds of ratty footsteps, I think I can smell the rat….Eeek! Or should that be squeeeeaaaak?! (Sorry!)

Maybe if I wish hard enough he will go away and leave me in peace.

Wishing you all a lovely and rat-free weekend, Amy x

Arianna Huffington I salute you!

Arianna Huffington is one special lady. Not only is the author, commentator and co-founder of The Huffington Post one of the world’s most influential people (she featured in Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in 2006), but she also makes sure that she gets the quality sleep she needs.

So often we hear people pride themselves on getting by with only a few hours sleep. Margaret Thatcher famously boasted that she only needed four hours sleep a night. Similarly, if you believe what you read, Martha Stewart, Madonna and Jay Leno all claim they can function on four hours sleep per night.

So it’s refreshing to hear someone intelligent and successful championing the value of sleep. Last year Arianna launched Sleep Challenge 2010; a one month sleep challenge, urging women to literally sleep their way to the top. Then, in an inspirational talk at a TEDWomen conference in December 2010, Arianna argued that the “way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep”. If you’re not already persuaded of the power of sleep, I recommend watching Arianna’s short talk, below:

Enjoy and be inspired!