No screens at least two hours before bedtime. No caffeine, alcohol or heavy food. No arguing, no sulking, no nasty late-night shocks. Make sure you get up early and enjoy plenty of exercise before lunchtime. Break frequently from what you’re doing to take stock.
Have a hot bath, do some yoga, slather yourself with lavender, meditate for 20 minutes, write down your daily troubles and a useful list of things to do tomorrow, and then head to bed – where the room, like Goldilocks’s porridge shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. It also needs to be soundproofed and pitch black.
No wonder we can’t sleep. You’d almost want to start getting ready the night before.
If you followed the recommendations for getting a good night’s shut eye, you’d probably also be at your ideal weight and possessed of a Zen-like calmness. Thankfully, for those of us who are more likely to end up washing down late-night snacks with vast glasses of red wine while watching just one more episode of Too Hot to Handle, commerce has stepped in with a range of items, apps, treatments and other procedures that will, at the very least, make you feel (and sometimes also smell) special in the insomniac small hours. Some may actually even work.
More seriously, some people are good sleepers and others simply are not. Insomnia afflicts us all from time to time. Poets write unhappy odes about it, and for everyone who wishes there were more hours in the day there are more who wish there were fewer wakeful ones at night.
Still, chronic sleeplessness is detrimental to pretty much everything you can imagine, and the global sleep industry is also growing apace. Estimated to be worth $585 billion (€527 billion) by 2024, the monetisation of sleeplessness is also behind the growing anxiety so many of us are afflicted with if we get less than the oft-touted eight hours. If the contents of my own bedside drawer are anything to go by, we’re all occasionally desperate for a quick fix.
So, assuming you’re not going to change your entire life to follow a routine dedicated to soothing your circadian rhythms, what is out there to push you over the edge into dropping off?
I’m a little suspicious of sleep tracker apps, having left mine running overnight in the kitchen by accident, only to discover that the countertop had evidently slept fitfully. However, there are some good things that your phone can do to help you sleep. From white noise to pattering rain, ocean waves to delta waves, you’ll find an app for that.
The iPhone also comes pre-loaded with background noises including ocean waves and rain; find them in Settings, under Accessibility.
There are also plenty of sleep meditation apps out there. The two biggies are from Headspace and Calm. Each has a free trial period, with an annual Headspace subscription costing €57.99, and Calm's being $69.99 (€63). I tried the Calm "Seven Days of Sleep", and found it worked, but (a) you need a refresher every now and then and (b) you need not to be bothered by cheery transatlantic accents. Find on the Play or App Store, or at headspace.com/calm.com.
What's the deal with bamboo and sleep? Seemingly it is good at temperature-regulating and (sorry to be blunt) soaking up sweat. Add anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic and you're laughing – if not snoring. Irish sleepwear company Zzzana has a range of bamboo sleepwear including eye masks from €20, and shortie pyjama sets from €77. zzzana.com
If you're lucky enough to stay at Ashford Castle, you probably don't want to waste a moment of it merely sleeping. Boudoir up your own bedroom instead with the Castle Slumber & Sleep Hamper. Includes silk PJs, eye mask and pillowcase. A opulently silky lurch into luxury at €400; shop.ashfordcastle.com.
The Irish Sleep Care Company is your one-stop-shop to shut eye. Certified sleep science coach (yes, they exist) Anne Marie Boyhan offers a range of stuff – from cashmere bed socks to silk pillow cases, diffusers to pillow sprays. Try the Sleep Journal (€30), which promises to get you there, one affirmation at a time.
Or go all out with a Sleep Retreat. The two-day (one night) getaway at Powerscourt Springs includes wellness, beauty, yoga, meditation, meals, a goodie bag and the chance to visit alpacas (I don't know if they're intrinsic to the process, but their presence caught my eye), from €350. Next retreat is May 14th to 15th, thesleepcarecompany.com.
No slouches when it comes to bedding down, Ireland’s hotels are in on the act for better rest.
New in, and exclusive at the Shelbourne, the Ground Sleep Ritual uses Peigín Crowley's lovely Ground Wellbeing products to iron out your sleepless creases with aromas of geranium and jasmine. Including aromatherapy, breath work and massage, it costs from €165, or take it as part of the Fall in Love with Sleep package, adding an overnight, dinner and a yoga class from €850. theshelbourne.com
Fota Island is offering a Tranquillity Pro-Sleep Ritual for €150, which brings essential oils, sound, Indonesian Sea Malay techniques with soft brushes and "effleurage moments" – so at least, by the end of it all, you'll have a new word in your vocabulary. Add an overnight with B&B from €189 for two. fotaisland.ie
At the Merrion, add the Signature Rest and Restore treatment to your stay. Including a foot rub, massage, meditation and take-away pillow spray, it comes in at €140. Add an overnight from €395. merrionhotel.com
The Lisnavagh House Sleep Retreat looks delicious. The three-night, four-day programme includes wellbeing cookery demos, forest bathing, yoga, meditation and all meals and refreshments. You'll also enjoy plenty of open fires, comfy sofas and all the relaxed charm of this historic house, set in 800 acres of Co Carlow parklands. From €480, check website for upcoming dates. lisnavagh.com
In Mayo, the Ice House Hotel has a Mindful Dreams Sleep Ritual for €135, including more massage and meditation, and a new relaxation room set up on stilts over the river Moy. Overnights from €130 per person sharing. icehousehotel.ie
And my top tip for a decent hotel sleep? Always travel with ear plugs. End of. Good night.
Not going to The Shelbourne? Don't fret. Buy Peigín Crowley's yummy Ground goodies at groundwellbeing.com. The Sleep Ritual gift box includes Codladh oil and pillow spray, €35, or if that doesn't do the job, perk up instead with the Awakening, including Beo body oil and spray.
Crowley is a mine of hot sleep tips, my favourite of which is the “thermal dump”. Another name for your bedtime bath, seemingly it helps regulate your body temperature, which can otherwise wildly swing overnight – and while obviously the occasional wild overnight swing isn’t to be sneezed at, a nice warm bath can be an excellent alternative.
Irish-made, and billed as "evening snacks", Unwind bars include stuff such as chamomile, l-theanine and Montmorency cherry, which, apparently are great for inducing snooze. Nationwide, from €2.30. Celebrating Sleep Day, Unwind is doing free yoga, meditation and other sleep sessions via its Instagram throughout March @unwindfoods, and find other "relax hacks" at unwind.ie.
Kilkenny Design's new wellness department has much for mindfulness, and also lots of stuff specifically for sleep. Including Co Carlow's finest: Jo Browne's bamboo sleep mask (take your make-up off first to prevent panda eyes), €19.95; bamboo pillow case set, €40; bamboo diffuser, €75; and sleep blend aroma, €20. kilkennyshop.com
World Sleep Day falls on March 18th