Let’s do some pillow talk

Banish those eye bags and tired skin with a restful night. Lisa Haynes reveals how to reap the benefits of beauty sleep.

WINTER is here, as is a new phase of sleep. Darker mornings make groggy wake-up calls the norm until spring. Sleep is affected by melatonin, which, in turn, is affected by light and darkness, so the seasonal change disrupts the body. But if you get your optimum amount of sleep, you’ll set yourself up for a recharged and revived new dawn.

With the restorative beauty of sleep fairies working overnight, there’s more to pillow time than meets the eye.


If you’re a sleep under-achiever, stress and anxiety are likely to blame, as they are so often for disturbed nights. One in five people experiences difficulty sleeping, according to research, and 70% of those are women.

“Sleep is not a passive process — you need to respect it and learn how to do it as a skill,” says sleep expert, Kathleen McGrath.

Besides bulging eye bags, a bad night’s sleep can also manifest itself through a tiredout complexion.

“A decline in skin quality can be evident if you’re deprived of sleep for more than one or two nights,” says McGrath. “People who do shift work often tend to have more problems with skin and weight-gain, due to sporadic sleep.”

Don’t clock-watch and panic. “You may not necessarily need eight hours sleep a night — it’s really what works for you,” McGrath says.

Herbal supplements can help, but need to be taken daily, for between two and four weeks, before you see the sleep-inducing effects.


Forget internet shopping and playing games on your iPad in bed. Create the ideal sleep environment, so that your bedroom is fit-for-purpose — many experts advise that it should be reserved for sex and sleep only.

“Start by lighting an aromatherapy candle in your bedroom, two hours before you are planning on going to bed, to give the essential oils a chance to be released into the air,” says Nicola Elliott, founder of NEOM Organics and an aromatherapist.

A calming routine, combined with pure, essential oils, is a dreamy double act in the promotion of deep sleep.

Go to bed with lavender, for its proven sedative qualities.

“Run a warm, foamy bath with a lavender essential oil and breathe it in, while relaxing in the tub. Spritz your pillow with a lavender-based mist, snuff out the candle, and close your eyes, while the final layer of essential oils on your skin keeps working into the night, keeping you relaxed and in deep sleep.”


Transform beauty nightmares into the stuff of dreams with nocturnal rechargers that work hard while you’re sleeping.

The skin’s natural repair process peaks overnight, so invest in a catalyst to boost the process, and wake up to a beautiful morning.


Quench the thirst of dehydrated winter skin with a rich mask you leave on all night long. Try Clinique’s ‘moisture surge overnight mask,’ €38, or Origins ‘drink-up intensive overnight mask,’ €30.50.


Give your locks an overnight treatment boost and wake up with recharged tresses. Try Pantene’s ‘overnight nourishing spray for fine hair,’ €5.99, or Charles Worthington’s Salon at Home ‘secrets collection moisture seal overnight ultimate hair healer,’ €19.99.


Pep up peepers and reduce the tell-tale signs of fatigue with an eye-focused product. Try This Works’ ‘no wrinkles eye repair’, €51 , or No7’s ‘beautiful skin overnight revitalising eye balm,’ €15.75.


Use a night serum to assist the skin’s natural, nightly cell-renewal process. Try Estee Lauder’s ‘advanced night repair synchronised recovery complex II,’ from €60, or bareMinerals’ ‘active cell renewal night serum,’ €45.


Don’t neglect your hands and feet in the overnight SOS pamper.

Try Ragdale Hall’s ‘relax intense overnight hand cream,’ €8.

Tried and tested

FANS of E45 face cream (cheap as chips, but not as greasy), will be quietly impressed by the hand cream too.

The non-reactive brand, which has legions of followers, has produced a no-nonsense, good value hand cream with added moisture.

However, while it doesn’t pass the critical drying test with top marks, it’s as good an emollient as you’ll get and having to wait a couple of minutes only before it dries is worth the effort for the nourishment it provides.

Great stuff for the practically minded and cheap enough to have in the car, bathroom, handbag, office — wherever.

E45 hand cream, €5.99.


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