Please don’t wake me…

Today kicks off Sleep Awareness Week, which aims to highlight the importance of good sleep. As a chronic insomniac I am of course acutely aware of how important sleep is. I’m writing this at 4am, so I haven’t found the cure for sleepless nights. I do though have some semi successful strategies.

My relationship with sleep has flipped from one extreme to the other. In my youth I could drop off anytime, anyplace. I loved to snooze and had zero issues dropping off. I was the queen of the long lie. Sleep became a problem when I first experienced mental health problems aged 19. Unfortunately, I have never managed to regain my easy breezy relationship with slumber. Almost twenty years on I have become accustomed to functioning on a few hours a night. Chronic pain has done little to aid a peaceful night, but an inability to calmly shut down is still a major obstacle in my quest for rest.

A decent night’s repose can affect everything from heart health to sex drive. It goes without saying that exhaustion also has a massive impact on mental health. The NHS advises that most of us need around 8hrs sleep to function properly. In fact, lack of sleep can so massively impair cognitive faculties that experts suggest driving after only 5 hours sleep is just as dangerous as driving drunk. Everyone should be mightily relieved that I cannot drive.

The long-term effect of insufficient sleep is grim. The anxiety of going to bed each night knowing achieving sleep will be a battle is wearing. The more you worry about not sleeping the less likely it becomes. Constant fatigue makes getting through daily tasks difficult, which adds to one’s stress levels. This in turn pushes that magical 8 hours even further out of reach. Long sleepless nights are lonely. There’s rarely anyone else awake leaving a busy mind way too much room to mull over worries. Throw pain into mix and you have a recipe for despair. Moving through the world in a worn-out shuffle will grind you down, which is why I offer my extensively tested tips on getting some god damned sleep.
I’m not going to waste your time with milky drinks and lavender under your pillow. Everyone knows the basics and they aren’t going to cure hardcore insomnia. I don’t have a failsafe solution, if I did, I’d snoring now. However, these are the things that I have had some success with over years.

Bedroom Tips

Keep your bedroom cool. Lowering your body temperature helps the body prepare for sleep.

In theory that’s why a hot bath should aid sleep, but I find any sleepiness gained from the temp drop is lost during the process of getting dry and organised for bed. If you do less faffing post bathing it might work better for you.

No tv in the bedroom. This is a definite for me. I find a television to be the opposite of relaxing. I need my bed and bedroom to be a completely chilled out zone. Which sits nicely with my next point.

Try to make your bedroom as pleasant as possible to be in. Obviously, that means different things for different people. For me it’s nice sheets, subtle scents, comfortable mattress.

Black out blinds are your friend. I could not live without mine.

Invest in one of those huge maternity pillows. They give so much support if you have back or joint pain. Plus they’re just super comfortable.

Sound Effects

Rain on window

I use sounds machine apps. I like heavy rain/ thunderstorm type sounds, but experiment and see what works for you. Something about being safe & protected from the elements I’m hearing sometimes helps me drift off.

Soothing music (whatever that means to you) at a low volume can also help. I like to mouth the lyrics and focus on words I enjoy rather than my own thoughts. Getting the volume just right is key for me, so again, you might need to experiment. Select specific songs and make a playlist beforehand. You don’t want anything that unexpectedly bring unpleasant or stimulating associations to mind.

Preparation

I should probably have started here, but lack of sleep melts your brain. So, you’ll have deal with my disjointed thinking.

These are all evident. I’m going over them because sometimes you miss the obvious when you’re knackered.

Don’t eat too close to bedtime.

Don’t watch, read or listen to anything that will bring up stimulating emotions (nothing scary, disturbing, sad, triggering etc).

Avoid arguing or deep conversations right before you hit the hay.

Smoking, caffeine, some meds (check with gp/pharmacist) are no goes before you attempt sleep.

Against Accepted Wisdoms

Sleeping cat

I’ve consulted many Drs, Psych’s and other practitioners over the years and some of the oft repeated advice they’ve given me has turned out to be just plain wrong for me. If you find something that really does or doesn’t help, even if everyone is telling you the opposite, do you. For me this includes:

Looking at my phone in bed. Putting it on night shift mode to alter the light tone to yellowish rather than blue is a must. Otherwise I find aimlessly scrolling can be very helpful in getting me sleepy.

Reading in bed also works for me. I can’t fall asleep without reading. I find that if I just keep going until I literally can’t keep my eyes open, I have a good chance of getting into a proper sleep. I think it’s because my mind is occupied with the content of the book rather than whatever mess is in my head. Clearly, it’s important to choose the reading material with reference to my previous points.

Sharing the bed with pets. So many people have cautioned me against this. I find my petting my cat and hearing his purrs excessively relaxing. Thus, I ignore such warnings.

Hippie Dippie

Constellation lamp

I hate to be that person, but occasionally the esoteric route gets you there.

A constellation lamp in a dark room can offer something uncomplicated to focus your attention on long enough to get to sleep.

Gentle yoga – clears the mind & stretches everything in a pleasing manner.

Desperate Measures

When you’ve been attempting shut eye for hours and are reaching the point of hopelessness; get up. By that point you aren’t going to sleep. Every toss & turn just raises anxiety levels. I find it much more productive to get out of bed and stop forcing it. Do whatever you can manage and if you get drowsy try again.

Medication – You need sleep to operate. There comes a point when discussing medication options with your Gp is the sensible thing to do. I have tried several sleeping pills over the years. Most didn’t work for me. Most are not a suitable for prolonged use due to addictive and/or tolerance building properties. There are some drugs that can be used for longer periods. I have been prescribed one such medication. It doesn’t have a 100% strike rate, but when it does work it knocks me out all night.

Sleep when you can in extreme cases. Often napping is counterproductive when fighting insomnia. However, when you haven’t had more than a couple of consecutive hours sleep in weeks that goes out the window. When my sleeplessness is at its worst, I will get so completely exhausted that my body will crash. That doesn’t always happen at bed time. Take that sleep. You need it. Sleep all day if you must.

Last but Not Least

Oxytocin

Sex and orgasms in general are brilliant for sleep. Sex works on so many fronts. You can tire yourself out, all those feel good hormones chill you out and of course it’s the perfect distraction from any negative bullshit you have going on. Flying solo releases all that lovely oxytocin and melatonin too, so don’t be shy about giving it a try.

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Spring wish list…

I’ve seen a lot of spring capsule wardrobe posts. Fuss free & minimal seems to be a big trend this season. Eh, not for me.  

I don’t think I’ve ever been a minimalist anything, but my fashion especially has always been a free for all. My brother used to mock me for seemingly attempting to wear all my clothes at once (layers have long been my friend) & the toy boy currently finds great mirth in my colour combinations. My style is just whatever takes my fancy & this is very much reflected in the mish mash of pieces I am currently drooling over.

Asos is my go to. It’s always the first site I check when I need (want) something new. Their curve range rarely lets me down. This season I’m loving the unusual shapes, frills that I’d actually wear & pops colour. It really pleases me how easy to wear it all looks. I can imagine just throwing on any of these items & feeling comfortable all day long. You’re ticking all my boxes again, Asos. 


I suppose hippie chick & alien metallics aren’t the most obvious bed fellows, but the heart wants what it wants. I’ve never seen a bell sleeve that I didn’t want & as far as I’m concerned the shinier my legs the better. So, thank you Pink Clove

My Boohoo picks are in a similar vein. Camisoles with jangly coins & slouchy maxis make my hippie soul sing. Meanwhile corset belts & harnesses bang my sexy bitch drum. I’m fickle & it seems the cyber high street is too. Just one complaint about boohoo, if it’s plus size, I want to see it on a plus size body please.

Lindy Bop is an absolute dream. Stunning retro style fashion that won’t bankrupt me & actually fits. I would probably happily buy their entire website. Given my not unlimited budget, I’d settle on these beauties. 


Tropical prints are a big yes & Forever 21 is on point with their tropical offerings. Their variations on classic black leggings & skater skirts are also pretty fucking cool. I really miss the branch we used to have in town. If you’re listening Forever 21, Glasgow wants you back. 

Time after time…

I had a realisation whilst internet shopping this week. I was searching for some casual summer bits & was struggling to find exactly what I was after. Along with adding some of this seasons trend to my wardrobe, I really wanted to find some timeless summer staples (all be it my version of staples). 

I scratched my head & then the obvious dawned. I almost always shop in the same small collection of stores. So, I set off on an Internet quest; find pretty things in shops that have been thus far alien to me. Being plus size I anticipated problems, but I was pleasantly surprised by the array of places who stock my size (anywhere from uk 18 to 22). So, with out further ado I present you with my finds. All of which I intend to purchase as soon as my purse permits. 

I haven’t shopped in Gap for years. I think I associate it with jeans, which I never wear. However, a quick squiz at their website revealed this clever piece. It’s a simple stretchy cotton dress that can be worn four ways (strapless maxi, midi, mini & maxi skirt) just by folding the top section. It’s ingenuity pleases me.

  

I tend to leave House of Fraser for cosmetics & fragrance purchase, but again it’s website had some surprises for me. Linea had a delightfully vivid shirt dress, which would work perfectly for more corporate occasions. I also discovered Desigual, a shop that I suspect was opened with me in mind. It’s design are quirky, bright & ideal for summer. 

   
  

My favourite find for absolute classics is  Esprit. This is a shop that I honestly expected to be a budget buster. How wrong I was. They have a great selection of summer classics at yummy prices. My favourites were this tie dye number & this gorgeous denim maxi. I just know I will wear these time after time.

   

No summer collection would be complete without a peasant dress & here is a delicious example from Phase Eight.White, linen & oh so 70’s. I’m sold.

 
 

Parklife….

I am dog sitting this week. My brother’s dog, Ringo (I named him) has come to stay. He’s a gorgeous boy. He is very affectionate & loves a good sleep. I love having him and as auntie ly spoils him rotten, he loves being here.

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So, today I thought I would combine a trip to the park with a little blog photo shoot. My dear friend billy was my photographer & companion. I think he might enjoy Ringo’s company more than mine.

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The weather was fairly pleasant, the sun really wanted to break through, but didn’t always manage. In any case it was warm enough to dispense with jackets & break out a new maxi skirt. I picked up this skirt on my recent charity shop trawl. It appeals to my hippie sensibilities & as I am trying to expand the blue section of my wardrobe, it was a must have. I teamed it up with my favourite Beatles vest & my nude flats. It’s a great comfy, but cute outfit.

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Skirt – charity shop

Vest – H&M

Cardigan – John Lewis

 

No excursion with billy is complete without a little carry on, so we had a little go on the swings.

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Parklife Blur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shiny happy people….

I thought since Australia was such a big influence on my new outlook that I’d do one more Brisbane outfit. I’ve had this maxi dress for a few years, but have never managed to get much wear out of it in Glasgow. It’s the sort of garment that requires sunshine, something we are sadly lacking in here. It was one of the first items in my suitcase & I was eager to wear it.

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Dress –  Gift

Vest – H&M

Sunglasses – Topshop

Satchel – Target

I’ve always been a hippie chick meaning this multi coloured tie dyesque design is right up my street. It has some cute beaded details under the bust & on the straps, which I’m fond of. The halter neck is a gift for those if us who have been blessed in the breast department. It holds them firmly in place giving a great silhouette. The halter does also mean it is a tad too booby, but that’s easily solved by popping a vest underneath.

In short this dress is very bold & funky. Just like me.

Here are some shots from Brisbane. Happy memories.

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I miss the view from my brother’s balcony.

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A big daddy kangaroo chilling out at Lone Pine sanctuary.

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Brisbane street art.

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I stayed at a hotel right in the middle of the city for a few days & I used to eat sushi in this square. You can’t get a proper idea of it from this picture, but it was a gorgeous mix of old & new architecture.