“But we do know what happens when we don’t sleep, and we need no experts to tell us; all we have to do is look in the mirror. Lack of sleep is a major crime against both your health and beauty. If you’re lucky, you can get away for a night or so without adequate sleep and not show it. But try that often, and all the unattractive telltale signs begin to appear; dark circles under the eyes, a gray tinge to your skin, a listless pepless manner, and all sorts of other things that can, in one fell swoop, destroy all those painstaking efforts you took to be well-groomed and well-dressed.”
– By Constance Hart
Unfortunately this on is something I am all too familiar with. I have had extreme and chronic insomnia since I was nine years old. I spent years at the doctors being tested for every weird disease there was. I was EXHAUSTED all the time. It was only last year a doctor took it seriously and we found a sleeping medication that actually made me sleep. All of a sudden I had life in me. I had energy. I was happy. I was able to think. How awesome is this sleep thing? I literally never knew!
Of course getting to sleep isn’t always easy. Especially if, like me, you have anxiety about EVERYTHING! Thankfully the lovely Miss Hart does have some ideas for you…
“All your preparations for sleep – and that includes not only specific preparations for bed but also whatever you happen to be doing as the evening draws to a close – should be aimed at one goal: to relax you. I’m not saying that you won’t sleep if you’re not entirely relaxed, but the more relaxed you are the better quality of your sleep, ad as I mentioned before, how you sleep is more important than how much you sleep.”
Tea & my current read “A Passionate Life” by Ita Buttrose (I love any biography about strong women who carve their own path, regardless of whether or not I agree with their views/choices)
I know this advice to be spot on. The nights I take a long bath and snuggle into bed with a pot of T2 “Sleep Tight” tea (a pretty tea cup really will make you sleep better – I promise!) and a good book, I do sleep better. I also know that when I sleep badly, I need to sleep longer. For years (and whenever I am unable to take sleeping medication) I generally need to sleep 14+ hours. I wake up miserable and longing to go back to sleep. When I do sleep well I only need 7-8. I discovered this the hard way when after a rough day I took my sleeping meds at 5pm thinking I would have a sleep in. I was up at 2am and energetic and keen for the day to start….but confused as to why I was feeling so good after waking up at 2am!
“Let’s examine the sort of things most of us do during an average evening at home. We sit around and read or talk, we listen to the radio or watch TV, we do various chores and so on.”
Now the book is showing it’s age. Add in use the internet and check twitter and instagram, check blogs, comment, respond to emails. I NEVER log off. I feel like I am forever being drawn into the computer – always something to do, even though I don’t actually HAVE to do any of it. I bet almost all my readers are like this too.
“Sounds fairly relaxing, doesn’t it? But if your idea of talk is to quarrel with the family; if your idea of reading is a murder mystery that scares the daylights out of you; if your idea of a good radio program is loud music that invites headaches; in other words, if your typical evening activities are the kind that overexcite or upset you in any way, your sleep is likely to be restless and troubled, or even non existent.”
So I should probably cut out most of my favourite shows at the moment (season finales always upset and excite me LOL). I should probably also segregate myself from hubby even more….he does
irritate overexcite me so. While I am thinking about it, if someone can come and remove my kids from 5-9pm that would be awesome.
“Take your choice of an activity you know by experience please and the same time relaxes you. It may be walking the dog or yourself around the block, or writing a letter to a friend, or any number of things. Each of us has different tastes and reactions. Just get to know which evening activity keys you up, which soothes you. As bedtime approaches concentrate more and more on the second kind.
Then in the final hour before bedtime, begin to taper off on all activities. Actually slow down in your physical movements. Switch that radio or tv program to some soft music (ever notice how many stations feature this in the last hours?). Start doing the beauty chores I list for you on your bedtime routine (page 295). Besides helping your looks, they will also help you relax, because they are super monotonous things to do!”
I actually started doing a lot of these things last year and I had a solid bedtime routine for about 6 weeks and it worked wonders. Then I just stopped. I need to get back into it as it really was the perfect way to end the day. I would turn off the laptop about 9pm and have a cup of “sleep tight” tea and read while listening to jazz for about 30 minutes. Then I would have a relaxing bath while listening to more jazz with candles and bath salts and a cold cream mask. Before heading to bed and listening to a bedtime relaxation/guided meditation track on my ipod. Also (those worried about TMI should look away now) a good orgasm always helps me get to sleep. Nothing more relaxing than that.
Me with less cold cream than I normally slather on and my “ohh, I just said “orgasm” on my blog!” face
Now on to Miss Hart’s sleep exercises!
“How To Sleep Properly
Don’t just shut your eyes and hope to drop off to sleep. If your body is still tense, you’ll just lie there wakefully and fretfully. Try this trick:
S-T-R-E-T-C-H from tip to toe, first with your right arm overhead and right leg pressing down, heel first; then repeat with the left arm and leg’ then do both left and right together.
Another trick is to raise your head off the pillow, bring it forward to your chest, then drop it back again. This should be done in slow motion, as if your head were a balloon drifting lazily back and forth in the sky.
Now try this one: Consciously relax every part of you, one at a time – head, arms, hands, fingers, trunk, thighs, legs, feet, toes. You do this by moving each part around slightly, letting it go limp. Shake your fingers and feet; let your jaw go slack. open your mouth slightly and roll your head around gently. Relaxing your facial muscles is especially important as they are particularly apt to be tense.
Here’s a tough one, but worth attempting. Try to let your mind go blank – utterly and completely devoid of any thoughts. If you can’t do this, try not to go over the day’s worries, the little unpleasant things that happened, and so on. If you must think, think about the nicest things you have to look forward to – you can easily make something up, like a long planned trip, to dwell upon.”
The first one sounds alright, the second…well I just think that sounds weird and not relaxing at all…the third I have tried. I was in the psych ward at the time and one of the nurses offered to guide me through this as a relaxation technique No idea why, but it freaked me out so much I was given a sedative. So understandably, I am not so keen to try that one again. I think it defeats the purpose if I need a horse tranquilliser to calm down afterwards.
The last one is what I dream of being able to do, but it seems so unattainable. I think all the time. Sometimes I am thinking three or four thoughts all at the same time…not jumbled, it’s like I have four separate brains working at once. It’s super weird. BUT I am going to tell you a secret…the making up stuff is something I have been doing since I was a kid. I once described it to hubby as “pre-dreaming” I would make up some story and place myself in the lead role. I would be courted by princes, win the lottery, become some gorgeous artists muse (who looks like that episode in sex in the city with Baryshnikov – OMG the hotness!) and spend my time draped naked on some gorgeous chaise while he paints me and tells me how hot I am, or when I retire to Paris and become an artistic nude photographer and sleep with all my gorgeous young muses….I tell you – it totally works…well until you get so into the story you can;t go to sleep as you want to know what happens next (or get up to research what eligible princes there actually are these days or how much a studio apartment in Paris is).
Hello sexy hotness…Of course I will run away with you to a Chateau in France!
In case you wanted to know what Miss Hart’s recommended nightly beauty routine is (on page 295) here you go:
- Massage scalp for at least two minutes.
- Pin up hair if necessary if not, brush hair at least 50 strokes. This brushing is optional if you’ve had your brushing session in the morning.
- Do 5 minutes of general and special exercises (see chapter on exercises). This step is optional if you have exercised earlier in the day.
- Take a warm bath (see chapter on baths). Skip this bath if you’ve had one before dinner.
- IF not bathing, scrub hands, nails, forearms, upper arms.
- Apply body or hand lotion or cream to elbows, backs or heels, and any other rough spots.
- Check fingernails for rough spots; file them with emery board.
- Apply Vaseline or oil to nails (fingers and toes, lashes, brows and (if you’re not going to have a bedtime snack) lips.
- Apply emollient cream to area around the eyes.
- IF skin is dry, apply a thin film of emollient cream all over your face; if skin is half-and-half, apply it only to dry patches. In both cases leave on overnight.
- Apply a touch of perfume, toilet water, or cologne below nostrils for easier sleeping.
IF underweight, have a light snack. IF overweight write down a list of what you’ve eaten during the day and record the calorie counts.
- Massage gums for at least two minutes.
- Use mouth wash.
- Check bedroom for proper sleeping conditions (see chapter on sleep and rest)
- To bed and lights out
I have to admit my favourite thing about this book is her routines (she has them for everything you can imagine beauty wise…and for ALL sorts of women (and by that I mean working or not working) and her lists. Love it.
Please replace #12 with “If you are hungry, have a light snack. If you are not – don’t”
Ok now that Essay is written I think I might need a nap!
So ladies, how do you relax and get ready for bed?
Miss Fairchild xoxo