Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Friday 4 October 2013

A good night's sleep

If you recall I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was taking part in a sleep survey to see if various accessories can aid in getting a better nights sleep.  I often find it difficult to get a good night sleep - I work quite hard during the day so am tired by bedtime -  I fall asleep OK but then wake up frequently and find it hard to relax and go back to sleep or I lie awake for a couple of hours before I finally do fall asleep. Some of this is related to various aches and pains (which are chronic and not solvable) and some is stress related. It's a vicious cycle as I am then tired  and get more achey and stressed during the next day and so then I sleep more poorly the next night, and the next...

I know from experience that I need at least 8 hours of sleep a night to feel fully functional, so when I was contacted by a company working with bed manufacturer Silentnight and asked if I wanted to try out a sleep accessory I was interested. Last year Silentnight carried out some research which showed that only 25% of all parents are getting a good night's sleep. So they decided to dig deeper and find out if various sleep accessories can help you sleep better. Do they stand up to the claims that their manufactures make? Can they make you relax before bedtime? Do you feel more refreshed in the morning after using them? 

I agreed to take part in this study and filled in a sleep survey to establish how well (or badly) I sleep normally. I then was sent a random product - in my case a pillow spray. 

Well two different ones actually,  the L'Occitane en Provence pillow spray smelt fabulous but had Tea Tree oil in it and made Compostman itch when I sprayed it on my pillow, so I had to stop using it. 

I was very kindly sent some John Lewis pillow spray as a replacement, which smelt lovely according to a friend, but I really did not like the scent at all. :(  So I decided to see if I could try the L'Occitane en Provence pillow spray again without upsetting Compostman. 

I sprayed a hankie and tucked it inside my pillow case rather than spraying the pillow directly and it did not bother Compostman at all so I decided to use this spray for my sleep survey experience. I used the spray on the hankie trick every night for a week and logged how well I slept, what time I went to bed and when I ate and drank before hand.

My findings

I think the spray helped me to fall asleep a little more easily. I certainly found I did not lie awake for a long time during the week I used it.

I sleep poorly if I am too warm, as I wake up and throw the bedclothes off me. I sleep poorly if my feet or shoulders are cold. 

Cat shenanigans (bringing in nearly dead mice or making lots of noise because they want a cuddle) is a major cause of disrupted sleep in this house for all of us.

I slept best on the nights there was fresh clean bed linen, but as I always have a shower before I go to bed when  there is new clean bedlinen, it might be that relaxing me? I do shower at other times during a week, but make a special point of always doing so when I have changed the sheets and my pj's

I need near darkness to sleep deeply, otherwise I doze off but wake up lots of times. Fortunately we have blackout blinds over our two windows and no street light but a light in the bathroom woke me a couple of nights. 

Eating late at night really does stop me sleeping well. I fell asleep OK but on the two nights I ate after 9.30 pm I had very bad dreams and woke up many times.

The night I slept the least and was disturbed the most I had been working at the computer until 5 mins before I got ready for bed so I need to switch off the computer at least half an hour before I go to bed - otherwise my brain is too active and I don't fall asleep easily.

Being in pain from chronic back ache makes it hard for me to sleep well or deeply.

My conclusions 

I think the essential oil spray did help me to fall asleep more quickly. I am a qualified holistic Therapist and I used to use a lot of essential oils at bedtime to help me sleep but have got out of the habit more recently due to being too busy (!) 

I definitely felt better on the mornings after I had a better nights sleep (no surprise, there!) .

If I eat and drink earlier and more wisely and stay away from computers, exciting TV and discussions of a difficult nature in the run up to bed time, I sleep better BUT I need the lights dim, the right level of bedding and no cat wakes me up.

Using some relaxing essential oils seems to help me drift off to sleep more rapidly.

I will be using my L'Occitane en Provence pillow spray again, and then will make up my own version to use.

Here is some useful advice from The Sleep Council, which ties in with what I found during my week of monitoring my sleep habits. I need to follow their advice a bit more I think!

  • Keep regular hours. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, will programme your body to sleep better.
  • Create a restful sleeping environment. Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible. Make sure your bed is comfortable. It's difficult to get deep, restful sleep on one that's too soft, too hard, too small or too old.
  • Take more exercise. Regular, moderate exercise such as swimming or walking can help relieve the day's stresses and strains. But not too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake!
  • Don't end up compensating for lack of sleep by going too heavy on stimulants such as caffeine in tea, coffee or cola - especially in the evening. They interfere with falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Have a hot milky drink or herbal tea instead.
  • Don't over-indulge. Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, just before bedtime, can play havoc with sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night.
  • Don't smoke. Yes, it's bad for sleep, too: smokers take longer to fall asleep, wake more often and often experience more sleep disruption.
  • Try to relax and insist on some 'me time' before going to bed. Have a warm bath, listen to some quiet music, do some yoga - all help to relax both the mind and body. Your doctor may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation tape, too.
  • Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day.
  • Resolve arguments before bed. Ongoing conflicts are not conducive to putting you in the right frame of mind for sleep!
  • If you can't sleep, don't lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again - then go back to bed

Compostwoman x

With thanks to Silentnight beds for providing the Pillow Spray for me to try.

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