The Big Sleep: In Praise Of An Early Night

Successive lockdowns have turned one writer’s routine on its head. Though, an early bedtime has its benefits, even for a confirmed night owl…


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You might not think that Anna Wintour, Kim Kardashian and Arianna Huffington have a lot in common. But when it comes to getting some sleep, all three women are – like so many celebrities, tech titans and business moguls – fastidious in keeping to an early bedtime.

I have long struggled to get into bed before midnight. However sleepy I feel, all the thoughts in my mind gather together late at night and decide this is the time to start dancing an enthusiastic conga. Don’t even mention chamomile tea, warm baths or soothing music – my brain stubbornly ignores these paltry pleas to wind down, laughing in the face of essential oils and meditation. I also rather enjoy staying up late, as I get most of my good writing done in the early hours, powered along by the hits of Dire Straits. My neighbours hate me and I make a terrible breakfast companion, but you can’t have everything. At least the 24-hour corner shop enjoys my round-the-clock custom.

Since lockdowns became commonplace, however, I have noticed a strange, almost imperceptible shift: I am not opposed to the idea of adopting a Kimmy K-style early bedtime. In fact, I’m rather tempted. Last week, I drifted off in two distinctive ways: the first night, I hopped straight into bed as soon as I came home. The second, I fiddled around in my flat, half-working, half-watching Friends, for a good two hours. It may not come as a shock that I felt decidedly better the former morning. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that I may actually even start to enjoy this new routine.


Culturally, there is an ingrained sense that early birds have the edge on night owls, no matter how hard the latter work when the former are happily snoozing. The common refrain is that those who wake up early are more successful (I have always obstinately pointed out that this is based on nothing more than a handful of morning workout-obsessed celebrities who live in LA, where the climate makes it impossible to do anything past midday anyway).

This week, however, I have happily relaxed my principles to enjoy the overwhelming sense of superiority one gets from being up at 7am, as opposed to the lingering guilt that comes with being in my pyjamas until lunchtime.

For years, I have been able to serenely ignore people who advocate dawn yoga and green tea; it is getting harder, however, to ignore the supremely enticing scalloped pillow cases, silky pyjamas and hefty scented candles I have recently spotted everywhere from Liberty to Next. It is a sign either of ever-encroaching maturity or simply the onset of winter that draws me to cosy homewares over clothes I can't afford, but I am choosing to give in to the urge either way. After all, if anything will get me into bed (no sniggering at the back, please), this lot will…

LOEWE Medium Scent of Marihuana Candle, £145 AT LIBERTY

Trade in your run-of-the-mill candle for this designer baby that’s almost too good to burn.

Next Ruffle Edge Duvet Cover And Pillowcase Set, £20-£50

If you buy these, you will spend more time Instagramming your sheets than sleeping in them (don’t say I didn’t warn you). 

yolk Prowling Leopard Silk Pyjama Set, £365

The favoured PJs of the fashion crowd and nice enough to wear out, too.

TEKLA Cotton-terry bathrobe, £145 AT MATCHESFASHION

The Big Daddy of dressing gowns. Just add slippers nicked from a hotel for the full spa experience (sadly, without the treatments).

Weleda Pine Reviving Bath Milk, £14.95 AT LOOKFANTASTIC

The original and the best, but beware: it will turn your fluffy white dressing gown green, so splash into your bath with caution.

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