National Sleep Day is approaching at the end of this week (Friday 18th March – keep your eyes peeled for an exciting product launch!) and our attention is currently focused around how to get a good night’s sleep. The benefits of a great night's sleep, to me, are considerable. I feel prepared for the day, focussed and am always more productive. The importance of a great mattress, sublime bedding and fantastic quality cotton sheets (Italian or Portuguese made) are massively underrated in my opinion (and a key reason that I started my brand)!
So, how do you get a good night’s sleep? And why is it important to sleep well every night? I caught up with Barbara McMillan, owner of sustainable sleepwear brand, HONNA, who has shared her expert sleep advice with us. Founded in 2019, focuses on the ethical and sustainable production of timeless styles that are not limited to any one season. Their intention is to consciously create truly comfortable nightwear that promotes a good night’s sleep.
Hello Barbara. Could you explain to our readers why is it important to get a good night's sleep?
Sleep is vital for all the obvious reasons; it can also transform your health and wellbeing, but everyone’s got a different relationship with it.
My husband is lucky enough to fall into a deep sleep very quickly, in almost any environment, whereas I have always struggled with sleep and insomnia. I do have two very small children and of course, I am also running a business, so this has felt slightly heightened over the past few years. But it’s made me focus on how to improve the quality of my sleep — even with so many challenges.
It’s only now, in my mid-thirties, I feel like I’ve really found what works. I’d never connected how lack of sleep, or good quality sleep, had affected general wellbeing. I suffer from migraines which I now recognise is directly linked to sleep deprivation, or lack of good quality sleep, so I’ve really been forced to address the issue over the past few years. The difference to my health, energy levels and mood has been incredible.
I truly believe that whether you are able to function on eight hours or less, that sleep is incredibly important and something that we need to make a conscious effort to improve if it doesn’t come easily.
What are your tips for preparing for the perfect night's sleep?
At Honna, we believe the key to a good night’s sleep starts long before bedtime. Through our social channels, we regularly share simple science-backed tips which we always try ourselves — just subtle suggestions that can hopefully improve quality of sleep and help to create a calming evening routine. Even the slightest adjustment can make a significant difference.
I do simple breathing techniques when I feel stressed and am struggling to switch off, and I relax completely. My whole body and mind can shift from tense and busy to calm and ready for rest.
The main tips we have found helpful and easy to work into a pre-sleep routine are to try to get enough daylight and time outside, limit screen time in the evening, keep your room temperature low (15-19 Celsius is ideal) and wind down by focusing on your breath, slowing your inhales and exhales to increase production of melatonin which makes us feel more relaxed, preparing us for bed.
Breathing is something I learnt about during pregnancy and childbirth, and I still apply the techniques to sleep and even cold water swimming. It’s simply controlling my breath to help focus and calm the mind and body.
Are there any night-time rituals you recommend for improving your sleep patterns?
A warm (or hot) water with fresh lemon or ginger. A hot bath or shower signals the switch from evening to bed time. Lavender oil or a good pillow spray. And good quality bedding, ideally made from breathable organic cotton. Anything to make getting into bed earlier extra appealing!
What should you look out for in nightwear to guarantee comfort and improve your quality of sleep?
We have spent years researching, sourcing fabrics, and tweaking our shapes to create the perfect sleepwear. The main things to consider would be to avoid anything super-restrictive that will limit movement or bunch up — which is why we design all elements of our pyjamas, first and foremost, to be comfortable in bed — and look for ultra-soft, lightweight fabrics that can help regulate your body temperature, like organic cotton.
Feeling ready for a good night’s sleep? Prepare your bed with our cotton duvet covers, pillowcases and sheets to help create a relaxing and comfortable place for a peaceful slumber.