Monday, October 31, 2011

Beauty and the Bed

{Belle from Beauty and the Beast because I can't say the title of my post without singing the theme song}

Lately, my schedule has been hectic, crazed, and even a little bit insane. I grab moments to relax here and there and look for beauty whenever I can but despite my efforts, I can often feel the wheels of my brain spinning like crazy. I can't shut it down, even as I lay in the dark, feeling each ticking moment of the night slipping away. After experiencing a few nights of this nature, I thought today would be a good a time to separate some of the truths from the myths about sleep. 

There are tons of theories as to why people like myself, struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep. From things as small as having artificial lights on that interfere with our brains natural sleepy rhythm to the annoying neighbour, whom you don't know, who throws parties till 4 in the morning, that you're NOT invited to. Yeah, the last one may make me want to beat someone around the head with a giant nerf bat. I'm just saying. I mean if you're going to keep me up, you can at least invite me to the party. Sheesh.

I don't know if you've heard or not, but Beauty Sleep - it's real people. The BBC, reported on a study where 23 people stared at before and after pictures of people who had been put through their paces and then rated when the people were hotter: After 8 hours of sleep or after being kept up for 31 hours. There was a general consensus, the well rested were just plain prettier. That right there, is enough motivation for this vain blogger to want to grab more Z's. How about you? If that's not enough to motivate you maybe this is.

Lack of sleep 'linked to early death'

If that attention grabbing headline on the BBC isn't enough to motivate someone, I don't know what is. Unfortunately, the link on the pages to the studies backing both of these claims weren't working for me. So, I didn't get a chance to go all sciency geek like and check the findings for myself. But, I'm going to give the BBC the benefit of the doubt as a credible reporting agency for the moment. If you have reason to believe they're not, shoot me an email and let me know!

Now, back to my sleepless nights. This isn't the first time these have happened in my life and stupidly, I've fallen out of using some great habits I'd acquired on getting more quality sleep. It's time to get back to them. I like my sleep, I like being prettier, and I like living longer.
  • Unplug at least an hour before your desired bed time. Turn off the T.V.'s, the computer monitors, the video games (even the hand held ones), and yes - (are you still breathing or did the thought of unplugging from the electronic world give you a heart attack like it does me? You're still here? Cool. Let's carry on.)
  • Yoga. As unmotivated as I can be, Yoga can be a lifesaver. If you don't know anything about yoga and are too embarrassed to try it in a class, too lazy to get to one, or are a shut in due to an abnormal fear of people, open spaces, or germs, there are some websites that can be life savers. 
    • My first pick is a free website: They have tons of information from beginners all the way to advanced users. Once you've signed up, they'll let you put together your own set of poses to print off so that you can tie yourself up in knots in the comfort of your own home. Here are some of their suggestions for restorative poses. I've also heard rave reviews from another site called MyYogaonline. It appears to be a pay for service so I pretty much lost interest right there. If you're really unsure of how to get started though, this sounds like a fantastically friendly way to help. I welcome anyone who tries it out, to come back and let us know about your experience. 
  • Meditation is also a great way to help find your way to sleep. Again, my favourite was the free service provided by YogaJournal. They had a series of meditations on their site for you to pick and choose from. I'm all about the freebies.
  • Epsom salt baths. This is such a fantastic but often neglected treat anyone with a tub should do for themselves. Epsom salts don't seem to be as easily found in the area that I'm in now. If you're having trouble finding them, look for Sea Salt bath soaks. One of the first ingredients listed, should be magnesium based. I've seen Magensium bath flakes sold as well. For the love of all that is holy, don't believe that soaking in a tub of Radox is the same thing. It's not. A 20 minute soak in an epsom salt bath 30 minutes before you hit the sheets, gives your body a great shot of magnesium which is something most of us are deficient in these days. Magnesium is this fabulous thing that relaxes all the muscles in your body and the chances are, if you're in a giant tub of water, you're not hanging out in front of the T.V. or any other electronic device you can electrocute yourself with. If you are, good luck with that.
  • Cut out the caffeine. Thankfully, it's not a total abstinence from it but I've had the best luck if I don't have any after 4 in the afternoon. There are some people who can sleep even with a I.V. drip of it hanging from their arm. I'm not one of those and if you're not either, join me in staring at those who can, bitterly, as they sleep. Yeah, you know who you are. Or just try cutting it out late in the day. Whichever way works for you.
My Favourite Sleepy Time tools
{BetterYou Magnesium oil, My favorite trusty sleeping mask, Thorne Research PharmaGaba-250}
  • Magnesium oil. This works best on clean skin so if you just can't stomach soaking in a bath for some reason, like a fear of drowning, then jump into a shower and spray/rub yourself down with some of this stuff. It's even better if someone else can do it for you. (For instance, by a special someone who can handle sleeping with a coffee I.V. drip and whom apparently likes to be called "my manly stud". You still know who you are. At least, I hope you do or I have some explaining to do.) Thirty minutes after it's applied, you should be sleepy as can be.
  • Pharma Gaba. This one is tricky. I recommend speaking to someone with an actual degree that can help you decide if it's appropriate for you or not. And it can't be just any degree. They should have a degree in something along the lines of natural medicine. That would mean seeking out a naturopath or homeopathic doctor usually. It's great for anxiety. So if you find the cogs of worry whirling around at night are keeping you up, it can help you let go and relax. I've as yet to find a place in the UK that sells my favourite brand. If you stumble across a place, please let me know! I'm fairly picky and loyal to the brands I'm familiar with so I'm hoarding my last dose like it's the Holy Grail. 
Let's make the world a more beautiful place together, full of really old people and all get our beauty sleep!

Do you ever have trouble sleeping? What tips or tricks do you have up your sleeves to help you get some Z's? 



  1. Very funny writing as usual!
    I only have trouble sleeping when I'm anxious about something. But, let me confess something. I hate the concept of sleeping. I think it's such a waste of time! Silly I know! But I've been this way, since I was a kid. I guess I'm also a bit afraid of sleeping, cause I have a lot of complex dreams and nightmares. My boyfriend is always amazed about the stuff I come up with during the night. Sometimes it's fun to dream o something really crazy, but when I feel sad or stressed in a dream, that feeling stays with me all day long!
    Right now, I'm worried cause today I'm moving to a new apartment and the room there is facing the street, so lot's of people and cars passing by. I wake up really easily and my rooms were always secluded so now, I'm scared I won't be able to sleep! I guess I'll need some ear plugs or something!

  2. Hmmm sounds like you're of the Benjamin Franklin school of thought: "There will be sleeping enough in the grave". On a side note, my son used to have night terrors. I identified some food allergies and removed the foods from his diet and his night terrors stopped. It may or may not work but I thought it was at least worth mentioning. I'm like you and am a very light sleeper. A room by a busy street would terrify me. I never had good luck with ear plugs. They were always too odd fitting for me but I hope you have better luck. A room mate of mine once, wore them every night and she slept like a baby. Even through an industrial fire alarm going off. Something else to keep in mind. ;) Luckily, it was just a drill.

  3. What a gorgeous picture!!!
    I used to hate sleeping when I was younger, but now that my life has gotten infinitely busier, I have learned to enjoy the quiet time.
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

  4. Yes, Adele is Amazing!!!

  5. 1) I added to my post regarding that part about the dogs. Our dog was the first, then my grandparents got a Boxer which the named after Strauss. Now they have Chaplin. Even though Charlie Chaplin wasn't a common musician, he did write film music! Haha

    2) The Beauty and the Beast was my favourite Disney movie as a child. I loved it to death!

    Finally) [I can't write number three because my key is broken] I LOVE sleeping. Seriously. Really do.

  6. What an interesting post! I've been having lots of trouble sleeping (the stress of law school, I think), so this info is helpful :)

  7. Ahhh sleep. I need some more. Mostly mine is lacking due to 1. dog, 2. glowing alarm clock, 3. banging pipes. I also found that working out is uber helpful and I could always rest well after using up my body's energy.

  8. OMG! I just came across to your blog. And this post is amazing. I am sleepless, too. I will definitely try magnesium oil. Thanks for the tips. have a Cupcake week!

  9. Thanks for visiting and I'm glad I had something useful. Not being able to sleep sucks. I've been buried in cupcakes over the past two weeks. I loved the pictures of all the halloween costumes. This year, I went as Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter. How come we never get tired of dressing up in this things no matter how old we get? So much fun! Can't wait to see what else you post. xoxo

  10. So, I'll give you the same advise you gave me for the 10 step mani but doggy style. Lock the dog in a closet. oooh no. I can't say that. Your dog is too cute. Jeez. I've never even met the thing and the stupid puppy has me wrapped around his little finger. Ok, I don't have a solution for the dog. But! Turn the alarm clock away from the bed, put it on the floor, or wear a wonderfully soft eye mask. The banging pipes are an issue. I have to deal with that sometimes myself. I hate ear plugs but you could try those if all else fails. OR! When you guys elope to Sydney, find a place without banging pipes and stay!!! That way, I have yet another reason to visit wonderful Sydney.

  11. Now I'm going to get all hippie dippie so prepare yourself. When I was in school and a total stress basket, I relied on Yoga like a crutch. Even if I had an exam I didn't feel ready for, I would go to a yoga class before the test and I would surprise myself with how well I would do. It really did have a great soothing mental effect on me which allowed me to focus and perform under pressure. Good luck!

  12. That's a fantastic tradition. Thanks for sharing how it developed. At first, as a young adult I bought into the hype that sleep is for the weak. You have to go! You have to do! You have to work yourself to the bone! There will be plenty of time to sleep and rest when you're old, grey and retired! I finally figured out that all of that - is garbage. I'm happy to say that I have learned how to relax again and I have learned to love sleeping. I'm like a mean angry toddler when I'm not able to get my mandatory 6-8 hours a night.

  13. This morning, I realized that my job is the cure to insomnia. Like, for reals. I love sleep, and I wish I could sleep mooooore. You know, though, too much is sleep is just as bad as not enough sleep! And each person's sleep requirement varies. Mine happens to be 7-7.5 hours :)

  14. You're very right! That link about "Lack of Sleep linked to death" also talks about how excessive sleep isn't good for you either. They weren't sure if it shortened your life or if you were sleeping more because of bad health and therefore were going to die quicker anyway but there was an association of the two. I'm not sure what my ideal sleep requirements are any more. I can't remember the last time I slept through a night solid. So there's always a time I wake up, lay there for an obscene amount of time and after the sun finally starts to rise and taunt me with the fact that I'm out of time to sleep, I get sleepy and fall back to sleep. Messed up, no?

  15. Hippie dippie? Oh please. I'm a vegetarian and yoga lover, which makes me kind of a hippie too :)

  16. Yay! Hippies unite!!!

  17. Just wanted to let you know that I've been sleeping very well. There aren't that many cars during the night.Thank God!
    Maybe there's something causing these bad dreams and anxiety, but I think it's myself.I'm the most anxious person on Earth.I worry too much.

  18. Thank goodness the street noise isn't bothering you. I'm a fairly anxious person and worry unnecessarily. It's a knack my grandmother taught me to keep me alive because apparently I was born with no common sense. At least that's what my family always claimed. ;)