The joy of sleep – the secrets behind a better night's rest

Nestled in the heart of the Cotswold village of Southrop, Thyme is made up of a picturesque cluster of restored historic buildings, a ‘village within a village,’ with a hotel, cottages, kitchen garden and farm, spa, restaurant, pub and cookery school. Caryn Hibbert, Founder & Creative Director, is dedicated to ensuring the family property is as sustainable as possible, living in harmony with the surrounding English countryside. In the first of three guest posts, Caryn shares her tips for restful slumber.

Whilst working as an on-call doctor and throughout my journey of building Thyme, I have learnt that the importance of a good night’s sleep is not to be taken for granted!Having a restful night is all about setting yourself up for a happy and productive day ahead, but I have certainly had my share of sleepless nights, and of course still do from time to time.

For me though, preparing for peaceful slumbers is a ritual that completely relaxes both body and mind.That ritual is pleasurable and multi-sensorial, ensuring each one of the senses – taste, smell, touch, sight and sound - all combine and balance to achieve a good night’s sleep.

This is easiest when you are in familiar surroundings and becomes more important when you are away from home in an unfamiliar environment.

At Thyme we try to make our guests feel at home with lots of luxe soft furnishings and ambient low lighting. Most of the bedrooms have a bathtub, perfect for helping guests unwind before bed. We also like to leave a little treat, like ahomemade vermouth as a night time tipple, or a hot water bottle hiding under the duvet on colder evenings.

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Beds should be inviting with crisp cotton sheets and most importantly the right combination of pillows.

Fabric and soft furnishings are very important. They soften the room, from the acoustics to the light. In the bedrooms at Thyme we have full curtains at the window with the addition of sheers that allow light and privacy during the day to complete darkness should that be required for a good night’s sleep.

Everyone is different of course, but for me the following ritual works well, and I am lucky to now rarely wake up in the night.

1. TASTE

Before going up to bed, I make a hot cup of a homemade tisane. My favourite is Lemon Verbena, a leafy herb full of flavour and with calming properties that support a peaceful night’s sleep. We keep a big box of its whole, dried leaves, picked directly from an abundant bush in the kitchen garden, on the shelf next to the Aga.

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2. SMELL

Fresh air and delicious perfumes areso important, it is all about breathing calmly and deeply, allowing distraction and anxiety to be put to one side.Every night, after I wash and cleanse my face, I take a few moments to close my eyes and drink in the scents of Aurelia’s night oil before applying it to my skin. It is the perfect moment to focus on your breathing before bed. Enhanced with lavender essential oils, it is a wonderfully calming and indulgent sleep aid.

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3. TOUCH

Feeling cosy and comfortable in your bed is two-fold. Getting the perfect pillow, duvet, linens and mattress for you is so important. I like soft, goose-down pillows with a light duvet and Egyptian cotton sheets. Of course, everyone has their preferences – my husband, Jerry, much prefers a firmer pillow – and at Thyme, we have both on the beds.

Touch is also about relaxing into your cocoon once you’re in bed. Heading to bed that little bit earlier and taking this time is like a stepping-stone from your busy day-to-day to a good night’s sleep. It’s this moment I can pick up a book and get lost in the pages or even do some drawing!

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4. SIGHT

I sleep with the curtains open, allowing the night sky’s dim iridescence to flood my room and the rising sun to stir me in the morning. Based in the English countryside, I am lucky enough not to have streetlamps outside my bedroom window, but if you do, even leaving a little natural light to seep in subdues melatonin production to help entice you out of hitting snooze that one more time!

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5. SOUND

Along with the curtains, I like to sleep with the window ajar so I can listen to the sounds of the wind, rainfall, the wildlife, or often just the stillness. Thyme is surrounded by countryside and in particular, the owls call at night in a very soothing and enchanting way. For me, the sounds of nature are calming and instil a deep sense of happiness, which in turn enables a restful sleep.

My bedtime ritual has developed over the years as my life has taken different turns, but it always comes back to the five senses. In essence, it is about balancing our bodies and taking the time to enjoy our night-time routines, giving ourselves the best chanceto sleep soundly and wake up feeling rested.