Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with Yorkshire Linen although all content and opinions are my own.
This was the only lullaby that would settle J when he was a babe in arms:
“Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.”
Rock a Bye Baby, Frere Jacques, Twinkle Twinkle none of them had the same effect as Row, row, row your bloody boat. I have no idea how many times I sang this rhyme, suffice to say that it was A LOT, and now I can’t hear it without being thrown back to those desperate hours of cradling my baby boy singing gently and willing him to stop crying and sleep.
As soon as you have a baby sleep suddenly dominates your life. Gone are the days when an all nighter would be followed by a productive day at work powered by a Red Bull and pack of chocolate hobnobs*. An all nighter with a baby leaves you mentally and physically drained, unable to struggle out of a dressing gown let alone don a pair of killer heels and a power suit.
Then you have the years where baby has not only learnt how to walk but has also developed a rare old sense of humour which means that you spend whole evenings (yes, that IS from 6pm until 10pm) putting your child back into their beds after they have got up 245 times just because they can, now that they are all grown up and in a ‘Big’ bed.
Then you get the years where the children have finally settled into their own rooms (apart from the odd nightmare) and you have the opportunity to get those undisturbed nights of sleep that you have craved for 6 years. Only you don’t get them because all of sudden you can’t go 10 hours *ahem ok, 6 hours* without desperately needing to empty your bladder.
My husband is an incredibly light sleeper and a mouse farting in the attic would wake him. We have recently moved to a new house which is just set back from a busy road. This means that his sleep deprivation is continuing. In fact I believe this is one reason why he travels so much with his job, he goes in search of a good nights sleep. Anyway, with the warmer weather and longer days of the summer months this proximity to a busy road means that we can’t have the window open in the bedroom so we have been trying out a plethora of ways to create a conducive sleeping environment.
A lavender pillow spray, reducing the tog of the duvet, investing in high quality cotton bedding, and banning all electronics half an hour before bed, we have tried most of the recommended ways of getting a good night’s sleep. The most effective? Changing the window dressings…
Blackout Curtains and the Quest for Sleep
My number one top tip for creating a soothing, sleep-inducing bedroom is to invest in window dressings with blackout curtains or blinds. The blackout fabrics block out light thereby replicating a pitch black night which consequently tells the body that it’s time to sleep.
To be honest blackout fabric is aesthetically awful, it doesn’t gently drape as you’d like a bedroom curtain to do, and it tends to be quite thick and heavy BUT it is a wonder at creating a dark space ideal for sleeping. It also cuts out some of the exterior road noise. All of our bedrooms now have some form of blackout window dressing. IKEA and B&M Stores do very reasonably priced blackout roller blinds which we use fitted into the window recess with ‘normal’ curtains framing, and softening, the window.
Ready made blackout curtains at Yorkshire Linen (sponsors of this post) are available in a veritable rainbow of colours. When the children were smaller (and two houses ago) we found some Glow in the Dark Star curtains (from John Lewis) which were also blackouts. When they arrived they had a bit of a funny smell but the difference they made to the bedroom conditions and my son’s sleep pattern was huge.
If you already have curtains that you love and don’t wish to change them, Yorkshire Linen also stock blackout lining curtains in a range of sizes which you just clip into your existing drapes. Brilliant!
Blackout Fabrics and Temperature Regulation
Sorry, but yes, I am going to bang on about blackout fabrics; they ARE like unicorns and DO have magical properties. Blackout fabrics are not only wonderful for darkening a room they are also fabulous in helping to regulate the temperature of a room.
The optimal temperature of a bedroom is a surprisingly cool 17/18 degrees so anything you can do to maintain a lower temperature will have a positive impact on your sleep. On hot days this can be a challenge. When you want to keep your bedroom cool, simply leave the window dressings closed and they will create an effective barrier to the sun’s rays which prevents the room from heating up. Conversely, in the middle of winter when you need extra heat in the room, blackout fabrics block draughts and prevent heat escaping through the windows. See, magic!
Soothing Summer Bedroom Tips
Although I wanted to totally bang the drum for blackout curtains and blinds I thought I would throw in a couple of other tips on creating a Soothing Summer Bedroom.
Crisp Cool Cotton Bedding
In recent years, whether it’s because of my age or because it’s new technology that has made cotton production easier, there seems to have been a huge amount of talk about thread counts. The higher the thread count the better the quality of cotton. This is a fact, but the other, little known, benefit of higher thread count cotton is, and this may surprise you, the noise.
The lower the thread count the coarser the cotton and the noisier it is. So, when you have a partner who wakes at the sound of a woodlouse scuttling across a floorboard, a quieter sheet is an essential tool in the battle for sleep. The better the quality of the cotton, the less noisy it is and the better the night’s sleep you get! Oh, and there is the added benefit of cotton being cooler which again positively impacts on your quality of sleep.
Cushions & Throws
Why is it that once you reach a ‘certain age’ or a ‘certain time of life’ you suddenly get a bit obsessed with cushions? I never liked a cushions when I was in my teenage years, the ones scattered across the sitting room sofa would always be thrown off in disgust. At Uni I was never one for piling my cell of a study room with soft furnishings, space was limited enough without adding more non-functional items. Then I had children and I have become mildly obsessed with cushions.
My favourite cushions are in my bedroom, they bring softness, a pop of colour, a soupçon of humour and, most importantly, allow me to put my personality into the shared marital bedroom. Let’s face it sharing a bedroom and a bed night after night is a bit weird, and it’s even weirder if the two of you have totally different styles. Cushions allow you to feather your nest, blend your styles and make it welcoming; in turn that makes the environment relaxing and hey presto you’re ready for sleep.
The same argument can be used for throws. At Uni we all had clapped out sofas that we covered with throws, for two reasons, one to cover up the holes in the arms where stuffing was coming out but secondly to bring our own personalities into a communal living space. Currently I have adorned the sitting room sofas with throws to break up the rigid lines, but at present none have made it to the bedroom. I am however lusting after the throws and quilts that Anthropologie stock, so it may not be long before one creeps in.
At the moment I am thankful that we are on the up side from the years of sleep deprivation. Our bedroom is a space that is warm (but not too warm, thanks to the blackout fabrics), a space that is welcoming and relaxing. Finally we can sleep.
Oh, hang on, just need to go wee…
*Other biscuits are available and of course Life of Ryrie would NEVER EVER recommend Red Bull and biscuits as a healthy balanced diet, OMG think of the sugar!
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post for which I received financial compensation from Yorkshire Linen. Although this post is a collaboration, all opinions are my own and no products were received from Yorkshire Linen or any other company in exchange for this post.