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ZZzzzzzzzzzz’ Operation Sleep Part 1

Operation Sleep

Do you struggle with sleep? I know I do. I can’t put my finger on exactly why although the last 4 years have been somewhat chaotic so I shouldn’t be surprised really. So I thought I should make myself Really Useful and try to make some sense of it all for you guys. This is going to be the first part of a two part series on sleep. In this first part I will share with you great tips for a pre-bedtime routine. But firstly just see the kind of yuk things that can be the result of a lack of sleep or bad sleeping habits:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Impaired memory
  • Decreased problem solving abilities
  • Can lead to depression
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Irritability

 A Few Sleepy Snippets

  • It is actually not really known definitively why our bodies sleep but they do.
  • To be at our best mentally and physically 90% of us need 7-8 hours of good sleep each night.
  • When we are asleep our bodies use as much energy as when we are awake but at rest.
  • Our brain does not shut down whilst we sleep it remains active and so requires energy.
  • Our bodies/brains produce a hormone called Melatonin. This is the hormone we produce that tells our body to sleep, thus it controls our Circadian Rhythms  (More about all this later in Part 3).
When we are asleep our bodies use as much energy as when we are awake but at rest! Click To Tweet

First Things First

Let us start with some ideas that come into play before we even set foot into our bedrooms. As I can certainly attest to, doing all these things every single day is just not practically possible but I am trying out as many as I can.  Once you decide on which ideas can work for you try sticking to them for at least 4 week. After 4 weeks analyse which work for you and stick with them or, if you need to try some of the others.

  • Pick a bedtime and stick to it as much as possible
  • No afternoon sofa snoozing or napping. 10 minute power naps can be a good thing but keep it short.
  • Keep caffeine for mornings and early afternoons
  • Don’t eat a large meal within 2 hours of going to bed but do not go to bed hungry. A high protein light supper is a good idea though as this will help stimulate melatonin production.
  • Don’t exercise within 2 hours of bedtime but taking regular exercise will improve your sleep
  • Don’t drink large quantities of any liquid within an hour of going to bed
  • Stop working at least an hour before bed time and don’t work in bed
  • No arguing or emotional discussions before bedtime
  • Prepare for the next day to stop you worrying about it during the night
  • Do I need to mention alcohol (nope – like I said, we can’t do them all!)
  • We don’t all have a Pensieve like Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter but we can keep a journal in a book. In the evening write down all those irritations, fears & anxieties, hopes and dreams that pray on our minds during the night.  Then shut the book and put it away in a drawer!
  • Nicotine is a stimulant so a bedtime cigarette is off the agenda for you guys who are smokers.
  • Establish an electronics curfew. Set the record button for your favourite late night TV shows and keep the TV out of the bedroom. Turn off those phones, tablets, laptops, game consoles an hour before bedtime. The blue light screens emit is a stimulant for our brains.  This is a really interesting little video by Dr Dan Siegel from UCLA School Of Medicine on the dangers of using screens before bed.

Keep Coffee for Mornings & Afternoons And Turn Those Screens Off Early


Use A Beautiful Journals For Jotting Down All Those Thoughts Before Bed.

For me, the fixed bedtime, no caffeine after 5pm, a screens curfew and next day preparations are my favourites and definitely have had a noticeable effect.  See how many of these you can implement into your lifestyle to improve your nights sleep. Even just taking one or two small steps from the list can improve your sleep.

See how many of these tips you can implement into your lifestyle to improve your night's sleep Click To Tweet

Watch out for part 2 coming soon for Really Useful tips on Operation Sleep! In part 2 we’ll look at, amongst other things, Pillow and bed choices and how these can affect sleep. Until next week…


Natural Remedies For Sunburn

Sunburn? Step Into The Kitchen Please!

Sunburn Remedies From Your Kitchen, Naturally

So you did everything you were supposed to but it happened. You got sunburnt, Ouch.  I know how much that hurts, stings, itches, blisters Ugh, the works.  I have had numerous incidents of sunburn myself from an over exposed shoulder (why was that umbrella at the bar not bigger!), a patch on the top of my thigh that I just plain missed out when slathering on the sunscreen to burnt eyelids from trying not to get sunscreen into my eyes and smearing my contact lenses.  It can happen to anyone.  Instead of reaching for a bottle of commercial after sun why not try heading into the kitchen and whip up something from the many useful things you already have.

Head To The Tub

Fill your bath with cool but not cold water.  Do not add any soap, bubble bath, salts or oils.  You can now add any one or even all of the following.

  • Milk – Milk will leave a layer of protective protein on your skin.  You could add some cups of milk to a cool bath. For just a small area of sunburn you can soak a clean wash cloth in cold milk and apply it.
  • Oatmeal.  You can use this two ways.  Make it up into a paste with cold water and apply directly to the sunburn or fill a linen bag and place it into a cool bath.
  • Baking Soda – add 4 or 5 tablespoons to the bath.

Only bathe for 15-20 minutes as you do not want to dry your skin.  If possible let your skin air dry.  If you must dry off then pat dry but do not rub.

If your sunburn has already blistered, take a cool bath but do not add anything at all.  Plain cool water is your best friend here.

Natural Remedies For Sunburn

If I have to take a bath it needs to be in a Kos Bath

Take A Look In The Fridge

  • Potato – Mash it up in a blender till its liquid (add some water if necessary) and apply it on to the sunburn and cover with a cloth.  You will feel relief from the heat quite quickly as the natural starches help draw out the heat.  Once it has dried out on your skin just gently wipe off, do not rub.
  • Live Natural Yogurt – Apply to your sunburn.  Make sure it’s probiotic and has no flavourings in it.
  • Cucumber – Slices of cool cucumber will relive the pain plus it contains antioxidants and is mildly analgesic
  • Honey – This will speed up the healing process, minimise the pain and reduce the risk of infection. You could also add this to your cool bath
Natural Sunburn remedies

Head to your fridge to find these natural ingrediants

Away From Your Kitchen?

Now all the above relies on you being A. at home and B.  having a well stocked kitchen.  So what if you are on vacation, staying with friends, on a business trip? Being prepared and organised (oh how I love that word!) is the answer.  You can make a travel friendly little emergency kit to take with you that is A. airline friendly (not taking valuable space in that minuscule plastic bag)  and B. easy peasy to make.  You can of course make a stock of these for at home too!


  • A  very small sealable plastic storage box, like a food storage box. Mine is 5cm in diameter and has a screw top
  • 120 mls of Witchhazel or Rosewater.  (This is The Canary Islands, Witchhazel, Que es eso? So Rosewater it is!)
  • 10 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
  • Cotton pads.  Try to get the lint free ones from the Pharmacy.  You can use cotton wool pads but if your sunburn blisters these can leave bits of fibre on you which might get into the blisters especially if they burst (aghhhhhhhh I feel your pain already!).
  • Mix the Rosewater and essential oils in a bowl and soak as many pads as your pot will hold. Drain off any excess liquid out of the pot (minimise the risk of leakage. It’s that easy! You can also add 5 drops of Tea Tree oil or 5 drops of Frankincense if you wish but its not essential.
  • If you prefer you could add the mixture to a spray bottle, keep it in the fridge and use it that way too. As a liquid though it must go in your plastic bag on the plane of course.

These are my ingredients for my Sunburn relief pads

On arrival at your destination, whip the box into the fridge (mini bar will do if you are in a hotel) and then come any sun induced disasters you have your first line of attack to sunburn relief on hand.

You can also pack some mint tea bags.  Fresh mint is always better but tea bags are a good back up and easy to travel with.  Brew the tea with boiling water and leave in the tea bags for around an hour whilst the water cools, remove the tea bags, refrigerate until cold, then soak a clean wash cloth with the tea and cover your sunburn.

A ready prepared bath soak would be a great idea to pack.  These Aveeno ready made ones would be perfect and really easy to pack for travelling and contain all natural ingredients.

Natural Remedies For Sunburn

These are ideal to pack into your luggage – just in case!

You can Find Aveeno Bath Treatment HERE & HERE

I hope you don’t actually need to use any of the above this summer but these Really Useful tips should help you, just in case. Do you have any secret natural sunburn remedies you can share with us? In the meantime have a lovely summer.


Thermal Water Facial Spray

Eau! How Refreshing!

Thermal Water Facial Spray

Are you spritzing your face with a Thermal Water Facial Spray during the day?  No! Well let me see if we can change your misting or lack of misting habits!  I was a little sceptical myself.  Why do i need to buy a can of water to spray on my face?  Surely a quick splash with water from the tap is good enough?  If you just want to cool down, get your hands, sleeves, hair soaked through then yes head to the kitchen/bathroom.  If on the other hand you opt for a cooling (if you keep it in the fridge), soothing and nourishing spritz adding to your face during the day whilst at work, play or travelling you should be considering a Thermal Water Facial Spray.

Living in a dry climate my skin was becoming parched by mid morning, not dry as such but dehydrated.  A daily moisturiser in this climate needs to be as light as possible otherwise my skin feels sticky and yet trying to achieve a balance between an all day moisturised feel, but not greasy, is tricky.  This is where the misting sprays caught my attention.  Not all Thermal Water Facial Spray products are the same.  Some are purely a mineral/thermal water spray.  Some contain essential oils, some extra minerals and so on and it’s not just a case of spray and go, there is technique involved to maximise the benefits.  I am using simple Thermal Water Facial  Sprays, no added extras, just Thermal Water.

Thermal Water Face Spray

What To Use It For??

  1. As a toner – after cleansing, a spray with Thermal Water Facial Spray will act as a perfect toner
  2. To set make-up
  3. A touch up for make-up – spray from around 25cm away from your face and pat gently with a folded tissue and your dewy fresh look will be restored
  4. A recharger of spirits – if you are feeling a bit jaded mid afternoon a quick mist with Thermal Water Facial Spray will wake you up and get you going again
  5. To hydrate skin in a dry/hot climate – outdoors or indoors.  Air conditioned office wreak havoc with the hydration levels in skin, particularly our face. Spray over your face, leave for about a minute and then blot off the excess with a tissue as the excess will evaporate and dry out skin, the opposite of what we are trying to achieve!
  6. To cool you, the kids, the pets, The Hubby, friends, family even strangers! Everyone loves a cool spritz on a hot day! Again though, don’t forget to blot off the excess.

A Really Useful Tip From An Expert

Isabelle Bellis, a French Epidemiologist working in New York suggests we use Thermal Water Facial Spray in a morning instead of cleansing.  She advocates cleansing thoroughly at night then simply using Thermal Water Facial Spray in the mornings to clean and refresh your face.  Her reasoning behind this is that over cleansing your face can strip the naturally occurring good elements in the skins immune system which help fight off bacteria and pollution. The Thermal Water softens skin tissues and allows better penetration of serums and creams.

So, What Is Actually Out There??

I really like the idea that I can use Thermal Water Facial Spray and know exactly what is in it.  Depending where you live, work or play, tap water may contain Chlorine, Fluorine, Aluminium Sulphate and have a mineral content not suitable for your skin type.  The ingredients of Thermal Water Facial Spray are all listed on the packaging.  The mineral content varies between each one, depending on the brand.

For now I am using Facial sprays that are purely just thermal water.  I am going to be trying out some that contain essential oils and other kind to skin ingredients later.

Thermal Water Facial Spay

This is the collection of Facial Sprays I can find here on my Island. Keep reading to see which I ones I like the best!

  • Evian Facial Spray – Hypoallergenic with a neutral PH value (7.2).  It has a very fine misting spray making it absorb quickly into your skin.  The spray from Evain is very fine and light.  As you would expect from Evian its a quality product in nice packaging although it doesn’t leave my skin as soft as the Avene or Vichy.

Find it HERE and HERE

  • La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water – no processing is involved so all it’s natural minerals are present & contains selenium, a powerful antioxidant. It is hypoallergenic, can soothe irritated skin and has an almost neutral PH value.  I do like this one but the spray action is not quite as smooth as some of the others (maybe the one I bought was a little faulty!) I would buy it again if none of my preferred others were available simply because La Roche Posay is always a trustworthy product.

Find it HERE and HERE

  • Avene – Hypoallergenic, rich in Silica and free of preservatives and non comedogenic (will not clog pores), excellent for sensitive skin, it can calm irritated or sunburnt skin (watch this space next week on that subject!).  Avene are famed for their quality of product and this one does not disappoint.  A lovely fine spray and leaves my skin feeling very refreshed and soft.  This is my favourite along with the Vichy.

Find it HERE and HERE.

  • Vichy Thermal Spa – the rare minerals in this pure from Auvergne (France) magma rocks and cannot be replicated by science. It is hypoallergenic, fragrance and preservative free. This has a lovely fine spray action and feels really soft on my skin so I would buy this one anytime.

Find it HERE and HERE

  • Uriage Thermal Water – From Uriage Le Bain in the French Alps this Thermal Water is rich in calcium and magnesium which can help soothe sensitive skin. Packaged at source it is 28c as it arrives at its ground source. I find this has a slight mineral taste to it if you lick your lips after using it so I probably won’t buy this one again.

Find it HERE and HERE

Thermal Water Facial Spray

This is The Avene-Le-Bain Hydrotherapy Centre in the French Languedoc. I would really love to visit here one day.

I keep all my Thermal Water Face Spray cans in the fridge.  I have the large sizes for days at home and pack a handbag size from the fridge when we go out.  Being in a can there is no danger of these leaking as with a plastic bottle and the handbag size ones are all aeroplane hand luggage sized so you can take them onboard in your little plastic bag (much more about that dreaded minuscule plastic bag at a later date!).

Happy spritzing! If you use a Thermal Water Facial Spray share which one you prefer and if you love one that I haven’t mentioned.  I know there are other brands out there, just not available here on my Island!





Are you Sunscreen Savvy??

Is the sun shining where you are? I hope so! It shines here a lot, in fact virtually every day.  Even if the sun is not shining where you are the sun is up there somewhere doing its thing.  We hear so much from many sources about the damage the sun can cause on unprotected skin even through those pesky clouds.  We cannot live our lives indoors, we’d all get rickets so, we need to use sun protection when we go out into the sun.


An essential parasol on the beach in Koh Samui even under the clouds

Sun protection is not necessarily just a question of covering ourselves in sun cream.  Wearing a hat, having quality lenses in our sunglasses, avoiding direct sun at peak times of day (1pm -4pm), covering shoulders whilst out and about & how about a classical parasol with UV protection (you can find one here). These are just some other ways to protect ourselves from the sun.

Living here in The Atlantic we can take all the little other ways to protect ourselves from the sun but sunscreen is an absolute essential.  The array of products out there is truly mind boggling.  If, like me you have allergies (those pesky parabens & synthetic fragrances are not my friends) it can be tricky to know which product is safe to use and which are going to be the most effective.

What Is Sunscreen Made Of?

Do you really want the full technical spec and a chemistry lesson? Nah, didn’t think so! However, there are some new technologies and ingredients that should be influencing our choice of sunscreen products.

Multi spectrum sunscreen

This great collection of sunscreens is multi spectrum

The most essential element to look for in your sunscreen is multi spectrum.  Unless it’s multi spectrum your sunscreen is not going to protect you from UVA, only UVB.

  • UVB rays – causes sunburn, damage to the skin DNA which can lead to skin cancer
  • UVA rays –  Causes wrinkles (aghhhhhh!) because it penetrates our skin to a deeper level and increases the risk of skin cancer.
  • The World Health Organisation says increased exposure to UVA & UVB suppresses our immune system

Some of the chemical and synthetic active ingredients used in sunscreen are Avobenzone  Oxyebenzone, Octinoxate, Retinyl Palmitate, Homosalate & Octocrylene.

If you prefer a sunscreen that uses mineral active ingredients look for zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide on the ingredient list.

L’Oreal developed an ingredient, Mexoryl that makes sunscreen multi spectrum because it protects not only against UVB but UVA too.  Whereas traditional sunscreen only protects against UVB.  Multi spectrum protection has to be the way forward, anything that improves protection has to be a good thing!

Factor This In

Factor 15.  What does the 15 mean.  Simply it means, for example, if your skin takes 10 minutes to go red in the sun using factor 15 will let you stay in the sun for 15 x 10 minutes; 150 minutes.  SPF 15 screens 93% of the the UVB rays but a SPF 30 protects against 97% of the UVB rays and SPF 50 98% of the rays so factor 30 will not protect you 30 times longer and so on for factor 50.


I could sit under this canopy all day every day and just gaze at the blue seas and be happily protected from the sun

Multi Spectrum, Can I Find It?

Yes, is the answer and it’s not that tricky either.  To make it easier, here is a Really Useful little list all with some handy shopping links. The first link is a UK and Europe source, the second link is a source for The USA.

  • La Roche Porsay                   Here & Here
  • Avene Eau Thermal              Here & Here
  • Aveeno                                  Here & Here
  • Shiseido Wet Force               Here & Here
  • Sunbum                                Here  (USA only I’m afraid.  I would love to try this one. You can find it on Amazon in UK but it ships from USA so is a bit cost prohibitive)
  • Soleil Toujours (Organic)     Here & Here

These are the three I am going to try out for myself –

  • La Roche Porsay. Made by L’Oreal using their patented multi spectrum formula
  • Shiseido Wet Force.  This is a very new technical product that has its effectiveness actually increased on contact with water – Pool – here I come!
  • Soleil Toujours – This product is multi spectrum, organic and paraban free so personally I couldn’t ask for more
are you sunscreen savvy?

I am testing out these three multi spectrum sunscreen – watch out for updates on the social media sites to see how they perform

And now in order to test these multi spectrum sunscreens I must go and look for the sun.  If you have a favourite multi spectrum sunscreen you can share your thoughts through the comments below.


Lemons to make Lemon Water



Lemon soup? You know that old joke when the finger wash bowl turns up on the table in a restaurant! Errrrm, did I order lemon soup? Well, how funny is it that now we should actually be drinking that warm lemon soup every morning before breakfast. No, really! Lemon soup is the thing. – wanna know why? Course you do! Read on my friends –

Lemons for Lemon water

Firstly, A Few Lemony Snippets!

  • Lemons were brought to Europe by the armies of Alexander The Great in the 3rd Century
  • The word Lemon is derived from various Asian words for sour  (There’s a surprise!)
  • Lemons are technically a berry (Well who knew!)
  • A medium lemon contains about 17 calories, 80 milligrams of potassium, pectin, vitamins C & traces of Vitamin A, phosphorus & magnesium.
  • Lemons are acidic until metabolised by our bodies when they become alkaline. Alkaline is our friend.
  • Oh & yes, almost forgot, they are a really great colour – yellow!

So, To Lemon Water – What, When & Most Importantly The Why

Lemons for lemon water

What is Lemon Water??

– one glass of warm purified or boiled water with a good slice of fresh lemon in it that you have given a squeeze to (we need that pulp stuff too). It’s a really good idea to drink Lemon Water through a straw because citric acid damages tooth enamel. What a great excuse to buy lots of colourful party straws. I am loving my white ones with gold hearts on them, they are so me. Its best not to use freshly boiled water or microwave your lemon water as heat kills vitamin C and we want all that excellent Vit C in there.

Lemon Water


 When To Drink Your Lemon Water??

What time to drink Lemon Water

Ideally, drink your lemon water first thing in the morning before breakfast but for the best results, always on an empty stomach. This was where I struggled a bit at first but having made it a new years resolution to get up 10 minutes earlier specifically to partake of this wonder drink, I am sticking with it really well.

Ideally lemon water should be drunk warm or room temperature, you do not want to shock your digestive system with cold water and warm will stimulates your system into action more than cold.

Why Drink Lemon Water – here goes-

(The Important Bit!)


It’s a pretty awesome vitamin is this one – a real essential to great overall health.

Natural stress reducer – nothing to add here. Anything that reduces stress in any shape or form is fine by me!

Essential for the production of collagen – let’s keep that skin looking healthy, glowing and rejuvenated. Collegen also aids in the maintenance of strong tendons, ligaments & bones.

Vit C (I can call you Vit C now we are friends can’t I?) is a powerful antioxidant. Free radicals – the scourge of the modern world – well our hero Vit C is their sworn enemy and Vit C helps eliminate them from our body stopping them damaging our healthy cells and membranes keeping joints healthy and reducing inflammation.

Essential for helping the healing of wounds and scars, we need to get those under control with as much help as we can muster (more on that topic at a later date!)

Protection from illness is the job of our immune system, Vit C is a major player is keeping our immune system in tip top shape.

Aids the absorpbsion of calcium thus helping the prevention of kidney stones. Good news in my book!


Helps prevent kidney stone formation and it is a powerful antioxidant so helps break down free radicals that can build up in the body especially is we have been exposed to environments of cigarette smoke, fumes from cleaning products or industrial pollution.


Pectin is a natural soluble fibre, it helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and slows down the absorption of carbohydrates therefore giving us that full feeling for longer – aiding weight loss as it’s a natural appetite suppressor (we won’t be reaching for those cookies at 11am – well, we’ll be trying hard not too).

It’s a natural aid to our digestive system as Pectin is the best kind of fibre – a soluble fibre  – we all know we need good natural fibre!

It can relieve joint pain as it helps the removal of this bad stuff – uric acid (which causes the pain) and the production of synovial fluid – the good stuff that lubricates those joints.

It can help with the relief of sore throats (many throat lozenges contain pectin).


Helps maintain & balance fluid and electrolyte levels in the body so reducing tiredness and increasing concentration levels, thus your lemon water can help with better brain function – and who doesn’t need that, possibly my favourite is that gem.

Other Vital Stats

The low ph value of lemons give them antibacterial properties and so lemon water will promote healthy mouth (don’t forget the straw though!)

Drinking lemon water has an alkalizing effect on the body. Increasing our bodies alkalinity is one of the best reasons to take up lemon water – an alkaline body is a healthy body.

In addition, because of its antibacterial properties, lemon water will help to keep away unhealthy bacteria which thrive in an acidic environment so by keeping our body in an alkaline state it reduces the risk of bacteria and viruses attacking us – so keeping those sore throats, colds & flu nasties at bay.

The scent of lemon is mood enhancing and can increase concentration.

A Few Little Twists

Lemon water with mint

If you need to really kick start your metabolism in a morning add a dash of Cayenne Pepper into your lemony drink.


Add a few sprigs of fresh mint into the mix – Mint is great for digestion and also makes your lemon water even more refreshingly tasty.

 If you feel the need to feed your Vit C knowledge banks even further check out this –

Why not try growing your own lemons! The RHS has some tips for you –

Do you already drink lemon water? It would be great if you share your special recipe and how you feel it benefits your health.  I have seen a definite improvement in my skin since I started with a daily lemon water.  To me my skin looks clearer and smoother.

So there you have it, really useful stuff about Lemon Water.  Add it to your daily routine as soon as you like.