There are really not that many perks to being a sleep journalist. Compared, say, to reviewing cars, or restaurants, or holidays. But during my time as a Telegraph columnist (RIP), I managed to persuade my editor that surely, one week, I could have a diary where I tried sh*t out.
In the end, the boss indulged me, and told me to ‘knock myself out’, or words to that effect. (How apt). I immediately got on Google and picked up the phone, and started – as we say in the trade – to call products in.
Here are some of them: please applaud some of the Dramatic Personae in the picture above. Bravo!
The sleep robot
I had been agitating for some time to try out Somnox (they have a very good e-marketing campaign), and so when I was given the green light, was very much looking forward to his arrival.
The idea is that you take this gadget to bed, and he will ‘soothe mind and body to help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer and start your day feeling fully recovered and energised’. (It feels intuitively that he has to be ‘he’. Controversial?)
Somnox did not disappoint. At £550, he really should not have done. He looked like a big, grey, cuddly kidney bean – maybe 18 inches high. He arrived with a birth certificate, and I decided to call him Beany. There was a mobile app, which was easy enough to follow, even for a sleep-deprived idiot like me. And sure enough, Beany started breathing!
There was something endearing about Beany, who even now sits next to me all day while I am working. I pat him every so often, and occasionally give him a kiss. This morning, after a 2.30 am wake-up call from overseas, we went back to bed together for a couple of hours.
On the first night, I felt a bit silly taking a piece of grey, quilted machinery to bed. But – hell, I’m separated, so it was just between the two of us. (It got a bit weird.) I disabled the ‘ambient sounds’ option because I’m not really a fan of wailing whales.
And Beany was reassuringly stolid, and we started breathing in sync.
I normally fall asleep quickly these days anyway. I didn’t actually sleep for more hours, I woke up feeling happy, and pleased to see Beany first thing. This felt like the surreal plot of a European art house film.
Snoozy beauty products
I didn’t think I was really a ‘beauty product’ type of a person, but NEOM’S Magnesium Body Butter was glorious. I wanted vats of it. VATS! The blurb says that it 1) restores you daily dose of magnesium (which is needed for ‘health and well-being’), 2) nourishes you with shea butter and olive oil and 3) has 12 relaxing essential oils for sleep.
I didn’t know about the science behind any of this, but it made me feel lovely and dopey and my skin really soft. I wanted to use it in the morning as well, but this was sort of counter-intuitive, and it ran out too fast – they would only give me one press freebie, and a 20 per cent discount, EVEN AFTER RAVE REVIEWS IN A NATIONAL NEWSPAPER AND A WOMEN’S MAGAZINE.
There were some nice things to slosh in the bath, including thisworks deep sleep bath soak which comprised Soothing Lavender and Vetivert. The first time of use, I poured in way too much of it. The (tiny, but I do have bad eyesight) instructions on the pot say to put in a ‘generous handful’. I erred on the side of very generous and the aroma of lavender, basil and jasmine fills the entire house for several days.
NEOM also sent me lovely Tranquility candle (that had 19 – count them! – essential oils inside it), Jo Malone very kindly gifted a Lavender and Lovage Candle, which I regifted to my 16-year old daughter, giving me serious ‘mummy points’. I was a bit concerned about falling asleep with a lit candle near my duvet, so kept it for Bath Duties. The candles were so lovely (and also so expensive if you have to pay for them), I didn’t want to light them and melt them away.
Tea and a bedtime ‘latte’
Pukka Night Time tea came in a purple box. There was a week-long programme: so, seven sachets, (‘a bed of organic oat flower, lavender and oat flower) as well as 14 capsules containing Valerian Root and Ashwagandha.
One evening, made a cup wjth boiling water. I wasn’t super-keen on the smell, nor the taste, which reminded me of parma violets and similar flowery-favoured things like Elderberry and Aqua- Vita, that odd drink in the 90s. It was bit like drinking the bath water after using the thisworks bath salts. Plus, the herbal tablets it came with are enormous, like bullets.
The next night, I tried the Night Time Organic Latte powder that you have to mix with organic almond milk (also very kindly send to me by the Pukka People. I was very suspicious of the almond milk, which you have to heat in the microwave. But actually! This tasted really good, like a malty cup of coffee (without caffeine, obvs.)
One night, I slept seven hours. But was this down to the latte, or the bath salts, or the Magnesium Body Butter? Perhaps I should have done a controlled laboratory-style experiment.
Space age duvet and pillow
On the back of a feature I wrote last month on how to have a ‘healthy bed’ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/keep-healthy-bed-should-really-change-mattress-every-seven-years/ the bedding company Simba (R) very kindly sent me a sample of their new hybrid duvet and pillow with Stratos (TM technology). These are apparently inspired by the space suits warn by astronauts, to ‘actively respond to the body’s changes in temperature throughout the night.’ And, handily, both are machine-washable.
First, the duvet. Packed with ‘hypogenic, mineral-enriched fibres’, it was surprisingly thin. But I have been using this for a good couple of months, through a cool patch and that stupid 38 degree heatwave, and I didn’t felt too cold or too hot, and sleeping pretty well by my standards. Perhaps there is something in this.
Then there was the accompanying ‘Build-A-Pillow’. It’s the latest in ‘Nanocube technology’, designed to adjust to your body temperature in the same way as the duvet (filled with blue spongy cubes the size of extra-large sugar lumps that you take in or out to make the pillow the height you desire).
The zip-up inner section came in a cute little ’sleeping bag’ with a grey mesh all around. But for some reason I was less of a fan of this. I’m very attached to my ‘old faithful’ pillow that I even cart around with me on overnight stays. Perhaps I should try again with a new model.
Light up your life
The Philips Somneo really is a beautiful thing. A sleek, donut-shaped piece of equipment, it would not look out of place in a house designed by Kelly Hoppen. Minimalist chic aside, this light is designed to ‘gently prepare your body for waking up during the last 5 to 60 minutes or last period of sleep.’
Starting your day with Somneo, says the blurb, will help you have a better ‘overall mood’ in the morning, and to enjoy more energy.
The manual talks you through the set-up process, and it’s easy enough. There is also a ‘wind down’ setting, and if you twist it a certain way, a saucy red light comes on. That’s before you mention the alarm function. It’s rather nice being woken up by a gently ‘dawning’ light and the sound of jungle birds.
Meanwhile, my bedroom is getting a bit crowded with all this kit. Is it time to kick Beany and friends out of bed?