Sweet Dreams with Feather and Down

Before Christmas a lovely delivery from Feather and Down arrived, in a beautiful box I almost didn’t want to disturb because of it’s Instagrammable qualities. I’d already become a fan after picking up Sweet Dreams Sleep Salts at a press event a few weeks ago. I’ve been using them instead of my usual Epsom Salts, and have very much enjoyed sharing my bath times with their soothing capabilities. Being a recent convert to the brand I was very excited to try more of their offerings. They generously sent me this Best Before Bedtime Set, which is due to hit boots in January. Before we get down to the nitty gritty, can we just take a moment to appreciate the packaging. I adore the metallic gold stars and swirls teams with the midnight blue and white colour combination, it makes for such an aesthetically pleasing gift.

A few years ago Insomnia was ruining my life. I became so sleep deprived I wasn’t functioning as normal human anymore, finding simple tasks taxing or impossible (even dangerous) and feeling constantly irritable as a result. You can read a bit more of my personal story on the Huffington Post and in Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution book. While my night time’s are far from perfect, by comparison they are no longer something to grumble about,  largely due to the fact that the main cause of my inability to rest or relax is no longer in my life. Just a quick reminder to people that toxic people can really dramatically effect your health.

These days aside from my troublesome stomach the main issue effecting my sleep is conflicting schedules. My partner now does shift work with many of them meaning he stumbles clumsily home after midnight sometimes as late as 2am. At the beginning I’d go to sleep at my normal and natural time of night, get disturbed and wake with a horrific shock, feeling like my heart was exploding out of my chest. I’d then get a bit annoyed with Si (yea right it was ‘a bit’)  and wait for my speeding heart rate to return to normal. If I really need a long sleep Si  or I will sleep in another room, something which I don’t want to become the norm, or I’ll just wait up till he’s home and go to sleep when he does. I knew I’d likely get more hours of sleep by going to bed a bit later rather than being woken up, scared half to death and waiting for my body to recover and try and regain that sleep mode.

So to review this set I went through the whole process starting at about 10pm at night. The first part of the set one should use is probably the Melting Shower Cream if you intend to get sparkly and clean before bed. I find bath’s tend to make me feel far more relaxed and soothed than showers, but there’s nothing stopping you from massaging on your skin if you bathe instead of shower, and I do know a lot of men prefer the faster nature of showering. With movement and water the cream melts  into a calming oil which you can then massage into your skin. Afterwards I couldn’t believe how soft, my arm skin in particular, was after using it. Si said I smelled delicious too.

Inclosed in the set is one Chamomile Tea Bag. I have to be honest that I’m not a fan of tea, in fact I don’t drink any tea at all, much to most people’s shock and horror. First off, I simply don’t enjoy the taste. The only hot drink I do drink is hot chocolate and that is very rarely when I can do it properly with lashings of squirty cream. There was a time when I was making a conscious effort to consume healthy hot drinks when my mystery stomach issues were at their worst. Everyone would tell me that Peppermint tea would help to settle my angry gut, but I was sure it wasn’t working for me – if anything, it seemed to get worse. Year’s later I found out I was intolerant to peppermint and it would in fact likely exacerbate my IBS symptoms. How my body loves to flip the script on health!

After this experience I was rather put off from trying various types of teas that were meant to relieve, improve, soothe in case I suffered a similar response and yet another disappointment.

But it’s been a few years and I wanted to give this set a thorough and proper review so decided to give this one a girl. The words Relaxation in bold on the back of the packet definitely spoke to me, when the day I chose to do this review fell on a particularly stressful week.

I left the tea bag in for advised 2-3 and sipped from the comfort of my bed which was dressed in freshly cleaned sheets. It’s hard to find a better feeling of sliding into a clean bed isn’t it? The first revelation was that I actually enjoyed the taste very much. My last experience of tea had been an unpleasantly bitter green variety, so it was a treat to have something so sweet and palatable. I genuinely started to see why people enjoy a few cups of these a day. It was also nice to drink something slowly. I’m so used to downing my cold drinks with haste, whereas this scorching hot drink forced me to take my time and savour the experience. While studying for mindfulness I’ve been taught about informal practices, focusing on the things you do more ardently – like chewing a mouthful of food, or really tasting and feeling the drink swill in and around your mouth before swallowing.

The health benefits of chamomile tea have been known for hundreds of years. Chamomile tea benefits include period pains relief too. A cup of chamomile tea can relax the uterus muscles and stop them cramping during a period.  The tea releases glycine, which eases the muscle spasms.One of the most popular chamomile tea benefits is that it can help fight insomnia which is why it finds a rightful place within this set of products. Chamomile tea has a natural and gentle sedative, calming effect, so a nice cup of warm chamomile tea at bedtime will relax you and help you to sleep better. Much like Peppermint’s supposed skills, Chamomile tea can be used to treat a number of stomach disorders. It soothes and eases stomach aches and aids the digestive system. I was really hoping this property would work for me this time round.

Another one of the popular chamomile tea benefits, which is particularly appealing this time of year,  is that it can be used to battle colds and flu. Drinking some chamomile tea will make you feel better and cosy-ed, boost your immune system, and its antibacterial properties will help clear up a cold much quicker. Regular consumption of chamomile tea has also been shown in studies to help prevent the progression of diabetes onto further complications.

Although I only suffer from mild headaches I am yet for experience the horrendous reality of a migraines but those who suffer from frequent migraines have reported that drinking the tea on a regular basis has drastically cut the frequency and the severity of the migraine attacks.

Okay, so the next few aren’t really in-keeping with the sleep themed blog post but I thought they would be useful to share with you guys while on talking the benefits of Chamomile.
Used in ointment form, chamomile has also been shown to be a good treatment for hemorrhoids to soothe the pain and help clear them up. Something fellow IBS sufferers might appreciate knowing.

Chamomile tea benefits aren’t limited to only internal use, you can also use chamomile tea externally, as well as for a drink. If you are using chamomile tea bags, then you should save the used ones, cool them down and place over your eyes for a while (5-10 minutes is usually enough); chamomile tea bags will help reducee dark circles as well as puffiness. I wish I had known this before binning the one I used here!

Chamomile tea has antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. You can use cooled down chamomile tea as a natural face toner, mix it with other ingredients to prepare homemade facial treatments or use it as a natural, refreshing face mist. Applied externally, chamomile tea will reduce skin irritation, can help alleviate itching and skin rashes, accelerate healing process of acne scars, breakouts, sunburns and minor wounds, it will nourish and rejuvenate the skin, adding a beautiful glow; thanks to its anti-oxidant properties, chamomile tea can also help fight aging; and when you drink it, it will nourish and hydrate your entire system from within and help fend of the allergic reaction.

Finally, Chamomile tea can also be applied on your hair as a final hair rinse. Once it has cooled to a comfortable temperature apply to your hair. It can also be added to various hair masks and homemade hair treatments. It can cure dandruff, sooth scalp irritation and nourish your hair, but it can also add a glorious shine to dull or matte looking hair. If you use chamomile tea hair rinse regularly, it can also gradually and naturally lighten your locks.

I definitely felt relaxed after the process of drinking this tea before bed. Whether it was the ingredients of the tea that made the most difference to my level of chill or whether it was the sheer act of sitting in bed and enjoying a lovely tasting cuppa  is unclear, but I’d definitely recommend it. I can’t help but wonder whether the tea’s effect on my stomach may have contributed heavily to a sounder night’s sleep. Many a night in the past has been disturbed due to cramping or an urgent need to run to the loo.

The next part of this sweet dream collection is the Pillow Spray which blends calming lavender and chamomile essential oils. A quick google will reveal Lavender as one of those natural wonders – the amount of things it can improve, remedy, and even cure, is incredible. Research has revealed that lavender oil may be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness. I’m actually thinking of taking lavender supplements orally as research has found that lavender oil could be effective in combating antifungal-resistant infections. When I decided to spend some money investigating my ill health via private and alternative clinics, tests revealed I had an overgrowth of Candida in my gut. We went on to attempt to treat it via a pill called Fluconazole, which although started to work, didn’t agree with me at all. I don’t know if I was simply in the small percentage of people that get the side effects that come under the ‘rare’ category or whether I was actually allergic, but the negative reactions meant I couldn’t finish the course. If I do go down the Lavender route I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress.

As instructed I sprayed a generous amount of the liquid onto my pillow. I have to counteract a hell of a lot of food and art equipment smells, as my bedroom is pretty much my whole home and where I spend all of my day due to my current living situation. The aroma is absolutely divine, and I almost didn’t care whether it would have the desired calming effect, I was just enjoying the scent filling where I was about to lay my head.

To illustrate the regime’s effectiveness, I thought the simplest way would be to put in a screenshot from my DayDay Band analytics. Usually my night’s round up would show 3-6 times when I’ve woken up (or been woken up), which is shown via a lilac line. I usually stir due to a jippy tummy, because of a horrendous factual based nightmare, general Insomnia related issues, or if Si’s snoring reaches an unmanageable decibel level. On this beautiful still night I didn’t wake once. This is a rare if not unheard of for me, so something was clearly working here. Managing to sleep through with a rhino reincarnated as a human (aka Simon) next to me is makes this worthy of a hefty endorsement . Maybe the brand should use our case study the tagline on their advert?

In summary I loved this set of helpful sleep inducing goodies, but as someone with CFS who needs to feel relaxed and de-stressed as much as possible I’d love a bumper pack with larger products and even more tea bags, so I can use it for my once a week pamper night. Still, a wonderful box of treats and a wonderful present idea for that person in your life that deserves or needs to unwind and get some quality Z’s.

http://featheranddownsleep.com

DISCLAIMER: Chamomile tea benefits are plenty, but you should be wary of drinking too lots of it as it can also upset you your stomach and cause diarrhea. You should also avoid chamomile tea if you are pregnant, as it can act as a uterine stimulant. Ask your doctor if chamomile tea is a safe and healthy choice for you, before including it into your DAILY diet.

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