My fellow JC-writer Miranda Levy was recently on BBC Woman’s Hour speaking about insomnia, the topic of her book The Insomnia Diaries. Like Miranda, I’m someone who has tried every trick, tool and tchotchke under the sun to help them sleep, having struggled since I was eight or nine.
As a child I would creep around at night, trying not to wake the adults up which would mean I was in Big Trouble. I felt like the only person on the planet who couldn’t sleep. Well, myself and Maxi Jazz from Faithless, whose hit song Insomnia was the only time I’d heard of someone else with a similar complaint. A track designed to be blared out through 600W speakers, while a sweat-drenched crowd manically jump in unison; nine-year-old me would listen to it quietly on my My Little Pony cassette player — while my alarm clock’s demonic red digits continued to glare at me accusingly through the darkness, as the night wore on.
As an adult, I’m fully aware that insomnia is a common condition, and my sleep deprivation is now usually more of an annoyance than a torment. And while there’s no ‘magic cure’ that will guarantee I’ll get a blissful eight hours every single night, some products can occasionally take the edge off.
A few spritzes of Tutti London’s Lavender Sleep and Linen Mist (£18) is a nice pre-bedtime ritual, lavender essential oil is great for relaxation. And for sleep-deprived skin resembling a worn-out schmatte, SkinSense’s Hydrating Collagen Gel (£30) kept in the fridge is my go-to. Starring a blend of Acacia collagen to lock in hydration and an active complex to protect against pollution, it ticks all the boxes. Plus, being gel-based, it works on the oiliest of skin types too. It’s not just for us insomniacs — from a hangover to a hot flush, this should be everyone’s go-to skin saviour.
Another hero gel product is Tired faace (£24), a mask you can pop on while you make your morning coffee, designed to keep blemishes at bay, with a hydrating, redness-reducing concoction of caffeine, aloe vera and vitamin C. (Think of this like a Berocca tablet for your skin.) A good undereye concealer is also priceless to us olive-skinned insomniacs. I love Sculpted by Aimee Connelly’s Brighten Up Concealer (£15) which comes in a number of shades, blends easily and stays put.
Acupuncture has also made a huge difference. I see practitioner Ka Hang Leoungk (pointspace.co.uk) based in Neal’s Yard, who also recommends applying pressure to the point on your foot in the “v” shape area between your big toe and second toe for about 15 minutes, half an hour before bed.
But for those nights when you’re staring at the ceiling and nothing seems to work, sometimes there’s nothing for it but endurance. Get out of bed and do something else. Read. Find a new Netflix series to watch. Or send me a tweet. Chances are, I’ll be awake too.