Having trouble sleeping? Natalie's bedside essentials will have you sailing off to the land of nod before you can say 'counting sheep'...
I don't like going to bed. I know, I know. I'm a madwoman. I just feel like all those hours spent slumbering could be used for something constructive or fun or both. The thing is, I'm not one of those four-hours-a-night kinda gals. I wish I was. My optimum sleeping session is nine hours, at least (and if I'm being honest, more like 10) - not that I get that many, due to the hating-bedtime thing.
Though I still find it hard to pull myself into bed, I've amassed quite the arsenal of sleep-time saviours, over the years. And here, dear readers, I've decided to share them with you. And despite my appreciation for silk PJs and expensive pillow spray, you won't find them here - these are my ride-or-die essentials. No muss, no fuss.
1. Spacemasks Self-Heating Eye Masks, £15 for 5
I talk about Spacemasks a lot. It's because they're blooming magical. These self-heating wonders loop round one's ears (sounds uncomfortable, isn't) and emanate comforting warmth. I'm usually fast asleep by the time they cool down. If I was rich, I'd wear them every night.
2. Lush Sleepy Lavender Lotion, from £9
If you haven't heard about Lush's fabled Sleepy cream, where have you been? I never thought I liked lavender until I slathered on this tonka and almond-laced concoction. But it really does work. And it doesn't irritate my eczema-prone hands, either.
3. Ashwagandha Capsules, £11.99
I'm lucky that I don't usually have to resort to sleeping tablets, herbal or otherwise - but in a stitch, I really recommend Ashwagandha as a natural remedy. One word of warning, though - even if you imbibe one teeny-tiny glass of wine with dinner, this stuff gives you the Hangover from Hell the next day, so avoid booze. I'm speaking from experience...
4. Smug Contoured Eye Mask, £9.99
I cannot sleep without a mask. It's less about the light-blocking (though that definitely helps) and more about it feeling like a warm hug for one's face. Just trust me. And though those luxurious silk masks are beautiful, they don't cut it for me; I prefer my contoured mask, which is perfectly designed not to push against your eyeballs/eyelashes (shudder).
5. La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume for Lips, £7
Lip balm is a non-negotiable for me; ain't nothing worst than the feeling of desert-dry lips as you're trying to fall asleep. I got some serious chapping from overusing the usual suspects (petroleum and lanolin are not my friends, and they're in virtually every lip balm) and ended up trying out La Roche-Posay's lip balm. I have never looked back.
Call me an old lady all you want, but trust me when I say that a microwaveable lavender heat pack is game-changing. I originally started using these for pain relief but continue to use them for the sheer comfort and warmth. It's like a teddy bear for grown-ups. Creepiness aside, just try it, will ya.