Sleep posts are by far and away the most popular content on my blog, and it’s easy to understand why!
This past year our bedrooms have needed to become true sanctuaries away from the outside world and yet, more now than ever before, the relentlessness of external forces are creeping in and disrupting long-established rhythms and much-loved routines. I’ve generally always found it pretty easy to fall asleep quickly and not wake up too many times in the night, but the past twelve months have been trying to say the least. When we moved into our new home last September, my boyfriend and I were keen to keep our bedroom on the top floor as a calming tranquil oasis, conducive to blissful and restorative sleep. Since we now have a guest bedroom in our house (which we’re hoping will see plenty of visitors as soon as restrictions are lifted!), we knew we wanted to move our old double into that room and treat ourselves to a new one. To be honest, I’m surprised Luis managed to sleep on my old one as long as he did – given that he’s 6’4″ and it was a super-low Japanese-style platform bed that I’d chosen for my old flat when I first moved up to Manchester! This time round, he was adamant we have a ‘proper-height’ bed with a headboard and, ideally, some extra storage underneath.
You may remember I’ve previously not been a huge fan of a bed with a headboard, preferring instead the clean minimalistic look of platform beds. I think I’d probably been scarred by the overly ornate wrought-iron designs and excessively padded fabric options from my youth! Happily there are so many better options available now and, since my boyfriend’s tastes also run to the minimalist side of the spectrum, I felt confident we’d be able to agree on a design.
Ever since my trip to Darwen a few years ago to visit John Lewis & Partner’s pillow and duvets supplier, Herbert Parkinson, I’ve considered the brand to be one of my go-to’s when it comes to quality and affordable sleep products. As I learnt on that trip, a good night’s sleep starts with the right foundations and a comfortable supportive bed really is the ultimate foundation, right? We spend about a third of our lives sleeping, so making an investment in the best possible quality bed you can afford really should be a no-brainer. So naturally I started my search by browsing the John Lewis & Partners website and was so pleasantly surprised to discover a huge selection of upholstered storage bed designs in a selection of colour ways, all with clean minimalist headboard options to boot! As chance would have it, the brand was keen to work with me on their Spring 2021 Sleep Campaign and went on to kindly gift me the bed we’d had our eye on, but we would genuinely have purchased this bed for ourselves after having extensively researched the market and settled upon this one as our favourite.
It’s the Emily 2-drawer Storage Bed upholstered in Erin Mole, which is a beautiful latte-hued soft woven wool-blend, which we chose to complement the flecked brown carpets our rental townhouse has been furnished with throughout (pretty inoffensive as rental carpet choices go). It’s a made-to-order piece, which means you’ll have to wait around 12-18 weeks for delivery, but in my opinion is a far more sustainable approach to furniture manufacture, and there’s something really lovely about knowing your bed has been made especially for you. It’s also delivered directly into your room of choice and assembled (in our case, following social distancing guidelines since it arrived during the early part of lockdown 3.0) which means no scrabbling about trying to configure frames and slats yourself.
I have to say, the first time I saw the bed in our room I instantly felt the space had been transformed from humble bedroom to luxury hotel room, such was the scale of the bed in the room and the luxuriousness of the fabric upholstery. It’s definitely made our bedroom feel so much more focused on sleep, since the bed has such a grand and imposing (in a good way!) presence in the room. Even though we haven’t yet changed our mattress, both of us felt we had a transformative night’s sleep that first night as the mattress felt like it had much better support than previously. The height of the bed also made a huge difference – so much more than I thought it would. Now when I sit on the edge of the bed, my feet barely touch the ground, and Luis of course finds it much more comfortable getting his tall frame in and out of bed. The height comes, in part, due to the fact we have two slimline drawers on either side of the bed, which have given us extra storage options for the overflow of bed linen and towels from our rattan linen cabinet, plus space to store bulky winter knitwear. John Lewis & Partners also have ottoman storage options in their upholstered collections, but I’ve always been a fan of a little bit of daylight passing under a bed to create a more light and airy feel in the room (providing you don’t store too much junk under there!)
When it comes to sleep itself, there are a few evening rituals I like to indulge in – especially when I’m feeling particularly stressed and think my sleep is likely to be affected. Reading has been my lifeline during the first few months of 2021; a routine I wanted to establish to not only rediscover my love of literature, but also to reduce the amount of hours I spent staring at a screen, whether that be my computer, the TV or endless doom-scrolling on my phone. A good 30 minutes of reading before bed is a great way to unwind and help my body to relax into the idea of sleep. The headboard of our new bed also makes the activity super comfortable – far more so than leaning against pillows propped directly against the wall!
Before getting into bed I always give the pillows a good spritz of Neom Organics’ Perfect Night’s Sleep Pillow Mist, which blends lavender, jasmine, chamomile and patchouli to promote a restful night. I also like to slather on a good handful of their Luxury Magnesium Body Butter too, particularly if I’m feeling a little tense and in need of the extra magnesium boost. Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps calm the mind and promote sleep, yet many UK adults are significantly deficient. Twitches, tremors and muscle cramps are signs of magnesium deficiency – all of which I have been known to suffer – so I’ve been trying to increase my magnesium intake lately through increasing the whole grains, beans and leafy green vegetables in my diet, as well as dark chocolate, almonds, hazelnuts and oats. Oat Flower is a key ingredient in the Pukka Organic Night Time tea I like to enjoy whilst winding down in the evening, blended with soothing lavender and sweet limeflower. It’s not as floral in taste as it sounds, and instead is a delightfully mellow option that I feel adds to my sense of relaxation before bedtime.
Of course one of the biggest contributors to a peaceful night’s sleep – in my opinion at least – is the quality of your bedlinen. I’ve long been a convert to the soft slubby texture of washed linen over the cool crispness of cotton, and one of the brands I consistently recommend when asked is John Lewis & Partners. There are a lot of fantastic small linen brands out there, but bundles can often be particularly pricey, so for me the combination of quality, affordability and versatility of the John Lewis & Partners 100% linen collection is second to none. I’ve had my burnt orange and dusky pink sets for a couple of years now and they have washed beautifully and only gotten better with age (as all good linen should), and we recently added some neutral nougat pieces to our rotation to complement the soft latte hue of our bed’s upholstery, and tone in with my existing linen colourways.
Here are a few more of my tried-and-testing tips for helping propel you towards the land of slumber:
- If you need to keep your mobile in your bedroom at night be sure to keep it out of sight, charging it in a drawer or more than arm’s length away from your bedside to reduce the urge to constantly check in.
- Switch off the overhead light source and instead use a dimmable bedside table lamp for reading before bed. You’ll see ours is on Luis’ side of the bed because he stays up later than I do usually, so is in charge of turning it off!
- Because he stays up later with the light on – and I need total darkness in order to sleep peacefully – I now use a soft silk eye mask to help me transition into sleep far more easily. Silk is a great material for sleep masks as it feels gentle and cool against your face, and doesn’t stretch or tug on the delicate skin of the eye area.
- Hydration plays a very crucial role in sleep quality and energy levels, so while it’s important to hydrate well throughout the day, I also like to keep a glass of water by my bedside for if I wake up in the night feeling parched. Being able to take a few sips of water can help me easily drift back off into slumber, rather than having to pad downstairs to get a glass, waking myself up even more in the process.
- Set a morning alarm, and be consistent about your wake up time. Over the latter part of last year I’d really fallen out of a steady weekday routine, since my working hours were less structured than they had been pre-pandemic. Since the new year though, I’ve made a conscious effort to wake up at 6.30am each morning, to potter about the house before my boyfriend wakes, pop on a pot of coffee and then head back upstairs to wake him up as I get back into bed with breakfast and my book.
So, I hope you all appreciate me doing my best Sandra Bullock in Bird Box impression here.. hahha.
As you can see, I spend quite a bit of time luxuriating in bed these days and enjoying my new morning routine for as long as possible before the rapidly increasing morning inbox can wait no more.
Do you have any great sleep tips you’d like to share? Unusual things you find work particularly well? I know different things work for different people – it really is just all about using trial and error to figure out what works best for you.
If you’d like more sleep advice then I’d recommend joining the John Lewis & Partners buying team next week to learn more about the importance of sleep on our wellbeing and their top tips to create the perfect bedroom environment.
On Monday 15 March at 6pm, John Lewis & Partners buyers Unna and Emily will host a free virtual experience via Zoom, talking about how to get the foundations right for your bedroom and help demystify shopping for a good mattress, pillow and bedding. They’ll be happy to answer any specific questions you might have throughout the virtual experience.
You can sign up to the free online session here.
This post is in collaboration with John Lewis & Partners, who kindly supplied the Emily Upholstered Double Bed and linen bedding set. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own. All photography © Kate Baxter.