I don’t have insomnia. Instead, I have an anxious mind that would rather be occupied and sometimes struggles with the quiet. I’ve been this way for the last 20 years. I’ve always wanted to stay up later than I should, in an attempt to avoid that quiet – growing up, it was reading one more chapter of Harriet The Spy, as a teen it was watching the Real World and Late Night With Conan O’Brien. And now? I’ve learned ways of being more comfortable with the quiet of my mind and body, although my brain still likes to shout things like TAXES and DENTIST APPOINTMENT as I try to fall asleep.
While ones relationship with sleep can’t just be fixed with essential oils – I think you have to figure out why you’re avoiding the quiet – I’ve found that, once you understand more of why you’re not sleeping, other things can, in fact, help aid sleep. It’s about comfort, it’s about routine and, maybe, even witchcraft. (I don’t understand how lavender works, but it must be magic, right?)
Here’s a handy collection of things I’ve tried and tested and think actually do help you get some damn sleep:
Big on Instagram and even better in bed, Space Masks are delightful, single-use sleep masks that heat up the minute you open the package. They feel amazing on tired eyes and also help block out light.
I’m obsessed with this brand. So far, I’ve tried the Calm Balm and Love Hand Cream and they’re both wonderful. They smell great, and I’ve integrated both into my night-time routine. The consistency of the Love Hand Cream mysteriously reminds me of Noxema and gives me a satisfying blast of nostalgia.
If you’ve ever used the Twilight bath bomb, you will love this. They smell very similar (they both use lavender and tonka absolut – I can’t claim to know what that even is, but it smells delicious and feels amazing). I like to rub this on my chest and neck before bed.
I literally bought this after seeing an ad on Instagram, at like, midnight, when I couldn’t sleep. I scrunch up my shoulders and have trouble getting my body to un-clench at night, and sleeping with this has helped a lot.
I bought a vial of this in Amsterdam and it made me feel VERY COOL to be purchasing it. I put it in my make-up bag on the way home, among my The Ordinary serums, and prayed it wouldn't be confiscated. Turns out, it’s totally legal in the UK. ALSO, it REALLY helps you sleep. Tastes kinda naff, but it’s ace.
Now, I am not claiming that a silk pillowcase will help you sleep. What I’m saying is, it won’t absorb your expensive night-time serums and creams like a cotton pillowcase does, and it also is constantly cool, which I am very into. It simply feels nice.
I have like three of these in my house, and I love them. I genuinely feel like a witch whenever I make up a weird combination of smells that I want in my house. Olbas oil and lavender? Orange and ylang ylang? WHY NOT. I find the routine of this, plus the little hum it makes, very satisfying.
Growing up, my mum liked to listen to an “ocean waves” CD to fall asleep, so I thought maybe the sounds of the ocean would also lull me to sleep. Turns out, I find listening to the lapping waves of a dark, wet abyss too stressful to sleep. I feel the same about thunderstorm sounds (nope), lake sounds (sounds like you’re drowning) and rainforest sounds (too insect-y). But rain sounds? Oh, yes. I play this on Spotify via our Amazon Echo and tell Alexa to “sleep in 25 minutes”. (Sometimes, I even fall asleep before it stops!)
This is my latest sleep discovery, and I am obsessed. Headspace have proper guided sleep meditations, but the Sleepcasts are different. They’re literally a combination of ambient noises and a narrator, who softly speaks, going into great detail about whatever the theme of the Sleepcast is. I listened to one called “Treehouse”, which consisted of a woman softly describing a redwood forest and a treehouse, in great detail. She even describes the feathers of the birds singing in the trees. It sounds batshit, but it’s weirdly soothing. (Also, so boring you can’t help but fall asleep.)
I’m hardly the first person to recommend camomile tea to help sleep, but this tea is FAB. It tastes delightful and I genuinely feel sleepy after a cup of it.