“For sleep, one needs endless depths of blackness to sink into”

Afternoon all! I’m feeling very cheery today. It could be because I haven’t seen the rat yet today! Or perhaps it’s because my other half and I have finally booked our wedding venue – woop! Or it could be because I’m simply enjoying the longer, sunnier days and the beauty of spring.

I’m loving waking up as the sun is rising and the extra energy the extended days give me. Spring has certainly sprung; I can feel it in my steps. I feel more alive, more energetic than I have in months. And, on the basis of my friends’ status updates on Facebook, I’m not the only one.

But, whilst natural sunlight can boost your happiness, alertness and energy levels, it’s not so great for promoting sleep. American writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh was spot on when she said “For sleep, one needs endless depths of blackness to sink into…”.

Our bodies need darkness for good sleep. Melatonin – the hormone that helps us to sleep – is produced by our bodies in response to darkness. Light causes melatonin levels to fall and can confuse your body into thinking it’s daytime when actually it’s time for sleep. So if your bedroom is not completely dark when you go to bed, this can disturb your sleep.

It’s not just natural light that interferes with sleep, though. Artificial light, such as road and street lighting, disrupt sleep too. In a 2009/2010 survey carried out by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the British Astronomical Association, half of the respondents said that light pollution disturbs their sleep. And even tiny amounts of light, emitted from alarm clocks, mobile phones and standby lights on televisions for example, can interrupt sleep.

So, what can be done to prevent light from robbing us of precious sleep? Well, heavy curtains and shutters in the bedroom can help to block out sunlight and light from streetlamps. Or, if you don’t mind wearing them, eye masks are an affordable alternative. And for those pesky gadget lights, simply cover them with a pillow for example, or remove them from the bedroom.

I also want to share with you another solution to unwanted light – a clever design that can block out light in seconds. Magic Blackout Blinds temporarily darken any room simply by sticking them to the window (the blackout blind sheets are charged with static electricity allowing them to be fitted to windows without tools or glue) and are suitable for all window sizes (simply cut down or overlap depending on the window). I love the concept and think they would be ideal for taking on holiday, for helping little ones to nap when away from home, or new home owners without curtains.  You can see more about Magic Blackout Blinds by clicking here. They are available from We Love Sleep, priced at £35.00 for 10 sheets.

If you’ve used Magic Blackout Blinds, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Amy x

5 simple tips for sleeping on the move

Greetings from sunny Dubai! I’m here with my other half to catch up with friends who are lucky enough to live here, in the jewel of the Middle East, and for a few days of R&R.

We arrived on the night flight, leaving London at 10pm and arriving at around 7:30am Dubai-time.  Determined not to spoil plans made with friends for the day of our arrival through tiredness and lethargy, I was eager to get some quality shut-eye on the plane. Often easier said than done, I know. With light, noise and being too hot or cold – not to mention the near-impossible task of finding a comfortable sleeping position in cattle class – dropping off to sleep can be rather tricky. And that’s an understatement. Thankfully I had the foresight to tap up the Sleep Geek for his top travel sleep tips before jetting off.

On the plane, I reluctantly snubbed the wide selection of films on offer (despite counting at least six on my Love Film list) and followed the Sleep Geek’s advice religiously. And, you know what? I slept for most of the journey. Admittedly, it wasn’t the best sleep I’ve ever had, but I slept for a good four or five hours out of the six and a half hour journey. Not bad at all.

So, what are the Sleep Geek’s tips? Well, they’re surprising simple, actually. Give them a go on your next journey and let me know how you get on:

  • Travel in comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, ideally made of a natural fabric that can breathe, such as cotton. Take extra clothing and/or a blanket with you to snuggle up in if you feel cold. This is an important one for me as I feel the cold really easily.
  • Take an eye mask with you to make your sleeping environment as dark as possible. Light can prevent you from sleeping and can disturb otherwise restful sleep.
  • If you find it difficult to relax enough to sleep whilst travelling, try the Glo to Sleep eye mask to help clear a racing mind. Read my review, here.
  • Take ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones with you to block out disturbing noises. My ear plugs were invaluable, particularly when the baby two rows behind started bawling.
  • Take a travel pillow with you to help you find a more comfortable sleeping position and avoid waking with a stiff neck.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Product review: The Glo to Sleep eye mask

Welcome to my first product review! Every few weeks I will be testing and reviewing a sleep-related product. This time it is the Glo to Sleep eye mask.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has climbed into bed at the end of a hectic day with the expectation of falling asleep immediately, only to find myself kept awake in the wee hours by my busy brain. Perhaps, like me, you’ve wished you could turn off your mind as easily as switching off your bedside lamp. Is it possible that an eye mask could do just that?

The Glo to Sleep eye mask is designed to induce sleep by slowing down brain wave activity; effectively switching off your buzzing mind. It looks similar to a standard eye mask, except that it has four glowing points inside each “eye” of the mask. The idea is that, by focusing on the glowing points, your active brain waves slow down, creating a relaxed, meditative state that leads to sleep.

To activate the points inside the Glo to Sleep eye mask, the user is told to simply hold the inside of the mask towards a light source, such as a light bulb, for 30 – 90 seconds. Then you slip the eye mask on, gaze up at the glowing points and breathe deeply. And – hey presto – you’re asleep!

It all sounds wonderfully simple, right? For the last week, I have been trialling the Glo to Sleep and, I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about this product at first. The concept sounded a little too good to be true. But, in this instance, I was very happy to be proved wrong.

The first thing to say is that the Glo to Sleep is very comfortable and easy to wear. The soft foam eye mask fitted securely on my face, blocking out all light (except for the glowing points inside the mask). Each night, focusing on the glowing points was simple and easy for around a minute, and then – to my surprise – my eyelids would begin to feel very heavy. A few more seconds later, I would feel so sleepy I could hardly keep my eyes open. If I felt my mind wondering, I gazed back up at the glowing points and, after only a few moments, my mind would clear and I would feel relaxed and drowsy again. Very impressive indeed!

The Glo to Sleep could be used as part of a bedtime routine – and it’s a serious contender for mine – but for now I’ll just keep it by my bedside, as an emergency solution for sleep-struggles, until I’ve considered all the options. I’ll certainly be packing it in my hand-luggage for a refreshing snooze on my next flight though.

The Glo to Sleep eye mask is available from We Love Sleep.