How creating a beautiful bedroom overcame my insomnia


I asked Silvana de Soissons owner of the beautifully designed The Foodie Bugle artisan food and vintage homewares shop what her bedroom was like. It turned out it had resolved her sleep problems. Read how she did it.

I was an insomniac for so many years. I stopped counting how many times I had gone without a proper night’s sleep. I would toss and turn, worry, plan, plot, then turn again and worry some more. Anxiety, stress and trying to do too much, too often, too fast resulted in waking in the small hours to put the world to rights and to resolve all issues outstanding in my work and life.

Well, over the years I realised that this was making me unhappy, tired and ineffective at work. After reading several books on the subject of mindfulness, and after interviewing dietician Sophie Roberts  on the subject of mindful eating, I realised that a calmer, slower, less intense lifestyle was called for, and that I needed to put sleep at the forefront of my priorities.

A good book to read on the subject is “Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world” by Prof Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman {Piatkus Books}.

Creating a welcoming, relaxing and quiet space was crucial, so instead of focusing on my kitchen {for once} I turned my attention to the bedrooms of the house.

Silvana de Soissons House (24th June 2013)My Mamma made patchwork quilts, knitted blankets and crochet cushions for me. In charity shops, junk shops and car boot sales I found beautiful old vintage linens and I was fortunate enough {through a vintage dealer friend} to acquire, at a minimal price, a huge stack of second-hand thick cotton sheets emblazoned with the “Eton College” stamp. I have never slept in anything more comfortable.

I try never to buy new things, if old things can be found instead and old linens are the best. I wash them in hot water and Ecover powder, hang them over the Aga or outside and change the bedding every week. I never iron – the crinkly look is more me!

By keeping my bedroom clean, neat, aired and prepared, I now approach bedtime with a better, more mindful attitude. By 10pm I shut the curtains {even though I live in the deepest, darkest countryside surrounded by sheep}, I light a bedside lamp, have a warm lavender oil bath, then listen to gentle piano music, while sipping camomile tea and reading a good cookbook. By creating a soporific atmosphere, my mind begins to tune into the “Z” zone, as the cartoon cat Garfield would put it.

Mindfulness helps you be in the moment, with no distractions, no scatterbrain thoughts and no loud noises whirring inside your head. I learned to make this my sleep-inducing time.

It has taken me a great deal of practice, but for the last couple of years I have, on the whole, been able to crack my insomnia issues.

“Che sera, sera” sang Doris Day. “What will be, will be”. You can approach life’s challenges so much better with a good night’s sleep: the issues will still be there in the morning, but you will be in a better state to deal with them.

Silvana de Soissons House (24th June 2013)Silvana de Soissons is the publisher of The Foodie Bugle Journal and owner of the The Foodie Bugle shop in which you can buy some of the handmade quilts and blankets she writes about. She also runs a new pop-up café and shop at weekends at her house near Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire. You can follow her on Twitter @TheFoodieBugle.

Photographs © Jason Ingram.

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2 Responses to How creating a beautiful bedroom overcame my insomnia

  1. Very interesting to read as I have sleeping problems myself. Whole my life I’ve always woken up nearly every hour of every night. I spent my life being tired, and if you don’t sleep well, you can understand the dreadful feeling of never feeling as if you have had a good night sleep. When I was a small child and teenager, my parents allowed me to sleep as long as I could. I wasn’t forced to rise early as they knew I always felt like I hadn’t slept. As a teenager when in control of my bedtime, I often chose to turn in at 9 in the evening, to rise the day after at 11 sometimes 12. These were the only days I ever felt like I’ve had a nights rest. Of course when getting older, studies get in the way of sleeping, so no long sleeps anymore. When I started to work, the stress from work came with it, made it even harder to sleep, feeling almost scared of the morning because I was so tired. Every sound or light during the night is agonizing to me and wakes me up. 2 years ago I got diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, a connective tissue disease, this meant that I had to sleep a minimum of 8 hours a night so my cells could regenerate and I could stay well. My health deteriorated because I of course did not sleep well.
    Medication was prescribed and I didn’t take it, the last thing I wanted was to start taking sleeping medication, so I searched for herbal things. The sleep clinic found that my brain doesn’t switch off, I am constantly thinking. They suggested I take up therapy like mindfulness; but I can’t honestly be bothered to try it after reading a few things, probably I read the wrong things.
    What I do have now is a ritual like Silvana, I take my herbal tea every night, then some Bach drops… I sleep a little calmer, but I still wake up.
    It helped to turn the clock away because I needed to see the time every time I woke up.
    Strangely enough, a doctor specialised in spinal issues I know via a friend, helped me when my back was blocked a couple of weeks ago and he told me my sleep issues could be related to the fact that I have Lumbago on top of my Autoimmune condition. He told me that when you suffer from continuous neck pains, even mild neck pains, the top part of the spine sends out signals to the brain keeping it active all night long. I will see if going to him every week to get my neck set is going to help. Because pills aren’t an option, I don’t have patience for mindfulness and my bedroom is always a terrible mess. Although I do sometimes feel that if I could redesign my bedroom I would feel more cosy. Finally, it is good to hear I am not the only one who has got dust gathering on her iron board 🙂

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