this works deep sleep pillow spray

When This Works approached me to collaborate with them on a special sleep project, I didn’t even wait to hear the finer details: I just said yes. Because they had me at the word “sleep”. Because I don’t really get very much of it, as you’ll know if you’re a regular reader, and because I seem to have become slightly obsessed with the very idea of it. (Also because This Works is a brilliant beauty brand, and they make the Deep Sleep Pillow Spray which is one of my most-used products. It all made perfect sense.)

My troubles with lack of sleep have been well-documented here on The Uphill; I’m not one to moan, even though I greatly enjoy it, but there is something about sleep deprivation that just makes you want everyone to know. I suppose in the same way that people with jetlag always have to tell everyone about their jetlag, or people who have a cold feel the need to describe their symptoms to anyone who will listen. Maybe we just like to share to make us feel better.

Anyway, the team at This Works wanted to help address my sleep issues and I was happy for them to help. They already knew that I was a busy working Mum, regularly trying to cram more into my day than I could manage, but to see if any tweaks could be made to my life that would improve my sleep they arranged for me to have a consultation with Professor Gaby Badre, who is one of the world’s leading specialists in sleep disorders. I have to be perfectly honest: I felt like something of a fraud for some of our phone consultation, because I didn’t particularly think that I had any sleep issues. It isn’t as though I have insomnia, or debilitating night terrors, or a dependency on sleeping aids – there isn’t an emotional or mental problem behind my lack of sleep. I can’t get enough sleep because I have a baby who feeds through the night, which means that I have to wake up every two or three hours. Slow, slow torture, as you’ll know if you’ve ever had to do that for any particular length of time. (Or indeed have had insomnia, or any other sleep disorder. Lack of sleep is tortuous whichever way it happens.)

So when Professor Badre started to ask me some quite in-depth questions about my sleep habits, I felt a little bit guilty. Like I was wasting his time. No, I didn’t struggle to fall asleep, no I didn’t use caffeine during the day to stay alert, no I didn’t use prescription drugs or alcohol, no I didn’t find myself falling asleep during movies or TV sessions in the evening… Part of me wanted to make up some problems just so that we had something to talk about! I kept thinking he would burst out with “just why are we having this call again?

But then something surprising happened. Professor Badre, after the questions had all been asked, told me in no uncertain terms that I had to seriously address my lack of sleep, otherwise I would – to use his phrase – “hit a wall”. Hearing someone with his level of experience put into words what I had been feeling – that I was always teetering on the brink of being able to cope – almost made me cry. I probably would have cried had I not been in a car full of people chatting about house renovations and giving me weird, sidelong looks! Being told that I must try and get more sleep, to manage my life better, was like being offered a solution to a problem I thought there would never be a solution to. I had always thought that the sleep deprivation would continue so long as I felt I wanted to breastfeed Baby Ted – that the two things were just destined to go hand-in-hand – but Professor Badre made me realise, with a few very succinct pointers, that I could be much more in control of the situation.

this works deep sleep pillow spray

Here’s the gist of what he said. (I hope I remember this correctly and don’t apply the powers of my overactive imagination to flesh out the story. I tend to do that.) The most important thing he discussed with me was the idea that I was being a slave to my life rather than being the master – I was just allowing things to happen to me and then reacting to them, rather than being in control of events and deciding what would and wouldn’t happen. I had whole lists of things that “must” be done – work, admin, house stuff – but it was impossible to get them all done in the time I had. And so Professor Badre said that I should eliminate any “musts” – if I did something, it should be because I chose to do it and not because I had to do it. I suppose that in a way it’s just a difference in mindset – you’re still doing the same things, but you feel in control of them rather than everything being a huge list of impossible demands.

Continuing along on the same sort of theme, Professor Badre said that I must make time for myself. That was the only “must” I was allowed! When he asked what I did to relax, I’m pretty sure that I said…”work”. (Ha. I’ll probably appear as a case study in a book in a few years’ time won’t I?) When told that I should enjoy a weekly massage or treatment, I almost burst out laughing – how on earth would I ever have time for that? If I had time to have a massage, I’d have time to have, in order of desirability: a nap, a shower, a quick re-jig of my website theme, a long sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and a magazine, a lunch with a friend…

But then I realised that I do have time for these things – I just need to stop feeling guilty about spending time on myself. I think that I tend to panic about my day, because there are so many “musts” on my list, but if I pick and choose what I actually want to do, or just cherry-pick what needs to be done urgently, my life is infinitely more manageable.

And then moving on to the subject of sleep, Professor Badre stressed the importance of finding the time to nap during the day if I couldn’t get a full night’s sleep. This was actually something we talked about at an event I held with This Works earlier in the month (thank you to all who came!) – that it’s the quality of the sleep that matters, not the length of unbroken time. So you can, if necessary, take your sleep in more than one dose and so long as it’s proper sleep, it serves the same purpose. (There are certain lengths of time for sleeping that are better than others, starting with twenty minutes for a quick refresher and then jumping to ninety minutes for a good solid nap; my current thinking is just that I want as much as possible and sod the correct lengths of time, but apparently you can feel worse than having no sleep at all if you rouse yourself at the wrong point in the sleep cycle.)

Professor Badre also stressed the importance of disconnecting from my iPhone and laptop and having times when I played “truant” from work. The idea of playing truant when you work for yourself seems silly, but I must say that actively making the decision to not do work and treating the time as a reward is very satisfying. I’ve really been trying to implement this change in the evenings, which is usually when I try to cram in all of my work that I haven’t been able to do in the daytime. I’ve tried to make a point of switching everything off to watch Netflix or have a relaxing bath, but shamefully I think that I’ve only managed this for a handful of evenings over the course of a month.

So what did I manage to change? Well, I have to say that Professor Badre’s words about “hitting a wall” really struck a chord with me. I’ve cut down on work considerably, until we get another nanny in place, because I was actually quite scared that I would fall ill if I didn’t start to take care of myself – it felt like a very real, very serious problem that needed immediate address. I’ve been trying to take more naps, and I’ve been taking Baby Ted into the spare room in the morning so that my husband can have him for the breakfast shift, and then I’ve been getting straight back into bed and going to sleep. I’ve found that the period between 7.15am and about 8.45am, when I have what I call my “bonus sleep”, is the best quality sleep I have in the whole twenty-four hour period. I think it’s because I suddenly have no responsibility and I know I’m not going to be woken up, so I totally relax. Even though I get more than 90 minutes of unbroken sleep during the night, there’s always the risk that the baby might have a little cry for a bit or wake up for a feed. With the baby passed to someone else, I know that I just have that time to myself. It’s really made me realise the importance of having help when you have a baby and not trying to do absolutely everything yourself, all of the time.

Though I haven’t yet implemented my next baby sleep steps (putting the cot in another room, doing some self-soothing routines) talking to Professor Badre made me seriously put them on the to-do list and I’m going to take the plunge this week. For my own sanity, I think! Reading some of the comments on my co-sleeping post has made me realise that this is such a common problem, especially for those nursing their babies through the night. It’s hard to know when to delegate, or just when to stop. When to realise that you’re at the end of your tether and slightly out of control of your own life.

this works deep sleep pillow spray

So I shall complete my sleep diary, but I feel as though I’ve already drastically changed the way I think about sleep, and my lack of it. On a more practical, easy-to-achieve level I’ve been spritzing Ted’s cot with This Works Baby Sleep Pillow Spray to create a calm, relaxed atmosphere as well as spraying my own pillow with the Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, which – as I said earlier – has to be one of my most-used beauty products ever. I’m sure that it has a lot to do with the ease with which I manage to fall asleep, even after feeding Ted in the night and (sshhh) looking at Instagram on my iPhone! It’s like being under some weird spell – I’ve had some amazing dreams whilst using Deep Sleep

I hope that this idea of regaining control over your daily life and tasks is helpful, if you’re struggling with the amount of things you have to juggle. There are loads of brilliant sleep tips from Professor Badre on thisworks.com as well as information about common sleep concerns. I have to say that Professor Badre’s advice to me has been quite life-changing; I haven’t had any more sleep, I don’t think, but I feel far more able to cope with my hectic schedule.

If you’ve never tried the amazing pillow sprays from This Works then take a look here – the original one is still my favourite, but they also now make a time-release version that carries on working throughout the night. Just don’t spray it and then operate any heavy machinery – I find that it has the same effect as a large glass of red wine – instant snooze!

(This post has been sponsored by This Works.)

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co-sleeping with baby

Having reached the absolute pinnacle of exhaustion (Peak Exhaustion? P.E.?), I find myself now sharing my bed with the baby in an attempt to get some sort of rest. Never for the whole night, but sometimes for about half of it and always for the period between around 5am and 7am, which is when I seem to be at my lowest ebb and unable to even sit upright to breastfeed.

So I’m a reluctant co-sleeper. Reluctant because I’m really just not into bed-sharing at all – I know that some people love it, especially those who are frequently breastfeeding through the night, but I can’t relax when Baby Ted is in the bed with me, even though he’s now a big chunky eight month old! I snooze in tiny fits and starts, constantly paranoid that I’ve rolled on him or that he has rolled onto his face and has his head stuck under my armpit or has managed to commando-roll himself off the edge of the mattress. Trying to get him to sleep on a clear bit of bed (ie, not stuck to my person) results in the same sort of screaming session as putting him down in his cot, and as I simply don’t have the energy to deal with that at 5.30am I end up with a clammy baby wedged into the crook of my arm.

You may note that I say “my” bed, “in bed with me”: I don’t know whether I’ve ever touched on this before, but – despite our best efforts – husband and I haven’t managed to share a room in a fair while. To be quite honest – and I know this will be perhaps controversial – I actually find it easiest having my own room with a new baby. We did the same when Angelica was born, until she went into her own room, and the same has happened with Baby Ted. I think that it would be different if they had been bottle-fed and he could have shared the night feeds, but as it was, I never saw the point of both of us having disturbed sleep. In fact, it was (is) far better for my husband to be running on full steam during the day so that he can be all energetic and enthusiastic whilst I mope about like a zombie in my dressing gown.

Anyway, back to the co-sleeping. I’m trying to nip it in the bud, because I don’t want to make a rod for my own back and have a baby who won’t sleep in a cot. I know there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a baby in your bed, I can absolutely see how lovely it is and there’s something quite magical about waking up to little snuffles and gurgles, it’s just that I need to have my own space in order to actually get some rest. I’m not even that good at sharing a bed with an adult let alone a child!

(Poor husband. This is me on a typical night: “Have you got your earphones in? I can still hear the radio. No, I can STILL hear it. I can STILL HEAR IT. What, you’ve turned it off? What’s that hissing noise then? STOP BREATHING I CAN HEAR YOUR BREATHING! Can you try turning on your side? No, that’s noisier. Try the other side… Did you hear that bang in the garden? Go and see! I’ll stay here and…guard the bed.”)

co-sleeping with baby

My task for this week is to try and get some sort of night routine for Baby Ted and then stick to it. I’ve been keeping a sleep diary for a project I’m doing with This Works, and I’ve realised that Ted has a proper feed at about 10.30pm and 3am but that the other waking times (1am, 2.30am, 11.30pm, 5am, 2.10am, 11.45pm, 4.15am, insert other random, exhausting numerals) are just for comfort and I should really just leave him to self-soothe. The problem is that Ted is a bit of a screamer and we are renting a terraced house and I can’t get over the fact that someone is the other side of the wall trying to sleep. I may try moving the cot into the little back bedroom which has no party wall, I just need to summon up enough energy to move my office out of it so that I can move the cot in!

Mind you, I’m not good at sleeping apart from Baby Ted so I’m probably my own worst enemy. I like to be close by and to hear the little snuffles and grunts, but at the same time I’m sure that I react too quickly when he wakes up – if he was in another room, maybe by the time I properly woke up enough to go and comfort him he would have gone back to sleep by himself. Although I did test that the other night and he cried for a solid ten minutes with no sign of giving in, so, who knows?! I remember with Angelica that everyone said “fill her up with formula and porridge and she’ll sleep through!” but it didn’t work. In fact, history seems to be repeating itself, really – I read her 8 month update and 9 month update post and the situation was almost identical…

So it’s a matter of ploughing on through and trying to grab as much rest as possible, I think. And nipping the co-sleeping thing in the bud so that I don’t wake up groggy, with no feeling left in my arm, milk patches on the sheets and a panicky sense that the baby has disappeared underneath the duvet. It’s just not conducive to a productive morning!

Comments and anecdotal material please: successful co-sleeping tips, tips for getting through the day on very little sleep, tips for settling a baby who screams like (no joke) someone in a horror movie, positive stories about babies suddenly sleeping through after many months of frequent night-feeds. Also, how many couples ended up sleeping in separate rooms for a while/long time/forever? Marvellous, get writing!

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baby blog development diary

I expect you’ve realised that things are a bit crazy at the moment; I have barely had the time to go online at all, let alone write anything, and when I do get a spare minute to myself I am so knackered that I can’t type a coherent sentence! So I’ll keep this brief but with the (hopefully) reassuring promise that I will come back with a more regular schedule of posts soon. We’ve been house-hunting (unsuccessfully) and trying to get settled in our rented house in Bath, but we’ve also been backwards and forwards to London a few times and it’s all been a bit too hectic. I feel as though I’m walking a very fine line and if I step off from it, everything will fall apart. Ted is still waking up loads through the night, which doesn’t help – I’m just absolutely exhausted!

Anyway, enough about my woes – let’s see what’s been going on with the small, milk-scented creatures in my life.

baby blog development diary

Toddler

Angelica is turning into a proper little girl who knows exactly what she wants and when she wants it. “No Mummy!” she says, if I dare to sing along to something on the radio without her explicit permission, “no sing! NO SING!” Apparently I’m only allowed to sing when commanded, and there is only one permitted song in Angelica’s Kingdom: The Grand Old Duke of York. If it’s potty time – the hour after bedtime that is spent to-ing and fro-ing from bedroom to potty, each session involving the taking off of the sleeping bag, the undressing from pyjama bottoms, the sitting on the potty throne and then at least four or five games or weird, toddler conversations about snails and pirates and sniffing for treasure – if it’s potty time then I am given a sort of royal licence to sing whatever I want, whenever I want, because it means that she gets to prolong her time out of bed.

Potty training is actually going very well, touch wood. Angelica is now two and three months (is that right?!) and she goes on the potty quite a few times a day now. Sometimes she’s far too busy, excuse me, to go on the potty, and just makes a pitstop behind the sofa to do things in her nappy, but it seems that every week she uses the potty more and more. We’ve tried to stop making it into too much of an issue, but I do think that we are probably at the time when we need to make the final step and get her using it every single time. I’m just scared of the mess! And everything is already so stressful, we’re all so highly-strung – can we really add in poos on the floor to this pressure cooker of a family life? I don’t know whether we would survive it! Ha.

Angelica’s month in a nutshell. She is: running fast in circles, jumping in imaginary puddles, talking in sentences, sleeping through the night (has been since 8 months, rarely gets up unless there’s something wrong), enjoying eating cherry tomatoes and ham and couscous, very well-behaved in the car, starting to sing the odd tune here or there, remembering really small details about bizarre things that you’d think would be irrelevant.

baby blog development diary

baby blog development diary

Baby

Thank you for all of your brilliant, brilliant messages and tips on my breastfeeding post. They made me feel so much better, and I did take the plunge in quite a dramatic way to reduce the amount of feeds I was doing. I had to go to Paris for the day, and couldn’t take Ted, so he had to be left with a bottle and some expressed milk. Except that we didn’t remember about the expressed milk until we were halfway down the M4 at which point it was too late to turn back for it. So Ted had a day of Aptimil, and I had a day of trying not to weep as my breasts became so engorged I could barely move my arms! I tried to express on the Eurostar on the way out to Paris, but couldn’t get a let-down (something to do with the vile smell in the loos, probably), then on the way back my boobs were so huge that I just had to sit in the loo and – erm – work at my hand expressing until something came out. And boy, did something come out! The jets were almost uncontrollable! I feel sorry for whoever has to polish up the stainless steel in those train loos – I did try and do a wipe-down prior to leaving, but it was futile. The whole place needed sluicing out. Gross. Sorry.

In actual fact, I managed to aim most of my milk down the rubbery funnel of the Hakaa breast pump*, a genius suction thing that basically pulls the milk from your breast by brute vacuum force! Not sure how good it is for you, because it’s not really mimicking the sucking technique of a baby, and it does feel as though you’re getting a huge love bite on your tit (I imagine, I’ve never actually had one, funnily enough) but it doesn’t require a plug, or batteries, and it just hangs there on the end of your bap until it’s filled with enough milk that it plops off. (In reality it shouldn’t plop off, as then it spills milk all over you, but you have to get the knack of suctioning it on.) So yeah, I filled up the Hakaa from one boob and hand expressed the other. It was fun, I tell you. I could have been drinking wine and reading French Vogue and having a little nap with my face squashed against the train window, but instead I was in the bog with my rubbery milk receptacle.

The worst thing was I couldn’t even save the milk, because I wasn’t going to get home for about another five hours, and also: milk expressed in a stinky loo? Not so sure about passing that on…

Anyway, Ted was fine: he chugged back two whole bottles of Aptimil and didn’t even miss me. There’s gratitude for you.

Ted’s month in a nutshell. Ted is: giggling when you say “mamamama”, eating pieces of bread, biting anything and everything with his two front teeth, dribbling far less than a month ago, waking every two hours through the night, breastfeeding well in the night but irregularly throughout the day, showing no interest in crawling but every interest in standing strong on his legs, laughing at cartoons on the television, smiling at people in a very winning sort of way, screeching very loudly and suddenly and giving us all a fright, sitting up without any wobbles, grasping onto things so hard that you can’t pull them away from him.

baby blog development diary

Me

Ah, me. Where do I start? I’m concentrating on keeping my stress levels low, so I may have to write this section at a later date when I can control my cartwheeling thoughts. On a bright note, my stomach seems to have dramatically sucked itself in this month, which is quite miraculous considering the number of croissants and crumpets and takeaways I have eaten. My diet has become so dire that I don’t even consider a croissant to be a treat anymore – it’s probably one of the more healthy elements! Whenever I eat an actual vegetable, my whole body seems to go into a kind of shock – bloody hell, what an earth was that? Yesterday I had lunch in the health spa at Chewton Glen and had a green juice alongside my selection of bean salads. I’m almost certain that my internal organs were about to shut down from over-excitement. I could hear them screaming with pleasure, like  a group of people who had been stuck in a hot car for a day with no water and finally handed a bottle of ice-cold Evian each. Poor old body. I will try harder this month. And when I have a moment – a nice, relaxing, brain-encouraging moment – I will do you a proper report on how I’m doing. There’s nothing to worry about, it’s just that I only get a tiny amount of time to get absolutely everything done, and if I try and work through into the night then I’m too tired to function the next day. We need to sort out a new nanny, but can’t really hire one until we know where we’ll be living, so…holding on by my fingernails. Thank goodness for my friend Rach, who lives in Bath – we’d be really stuck without her babysitting skills and chirpy demeanour!

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