The British television presenter and lifestyle coach Amanda Hamilton shares her expertise on health and nutrition.
A good night's sleep can be an expensive habit
"Staycation" has been the buzzword in broadsheet travel sections the world over since the recession began to bite. For a while at least, the jet set has come to ground. Nothing epitomised boom times quite like a lavish hotel spa. According to the spa industry website Spa Finder, the field of "sleep medicine" has evolved in an attempt to entice weary executives back through the door. Sue Ellis, Spa Finder's president, said: "This trend is just beginning. So many people can identify with sleep deprivation that learning how to sleep well has become something they want- and a spa is the perfect place to do it."
No-expense-spared courses involving sleep gurus, hypnotherapists, iPod meditations and mind-body therapies are designed to sooth the weary and the worried. Insomnia, it seems, is the unwelcome bedmate of our generation. When it comes to this new trend in the spa market, little is left to the imagination. The Iru Fushi private island resort in the Maldives offers a Sweet Dream Programme providing "a little nurture in the art of slumber and total relaxation".
Despairing insomniacs can enjoy a sleep-driven spa, complete with yoga classes, relaxing treatments and soothing herbal baths before bedtime. All standard stuff, until you are also offered a pillow menu, as well as a Sleep-All-Night-Cap. Wonderful. The human body uses sleep to repair, rebuild and restore itself. Sleep (or lack thereof) has a profound effect on appearance, especially of the skin. Getting a good night's sleep is a logical first step to looking on top form, even if finances are shaky.
Sleep spas don't come cheap, however, and the last thing an insomniac needs is another bill to worry about. So what can you do if you're having a challenge with insomnia? The golden rule is: Don't eat your dinner after 8pm; leave at least two hours' digestion time before you think about turning in for the night. You could subscribe to the latest domestic trend on the block - the "spa staycation". Mixing up your own lotions and potions ticks the boxes of the new-era of green-fingered, eco-conscious, thrifty consumer. Here are a few real-life examples to start stocking your staycation larder.
A spa remedy requires nothing more than a few sprigs of lavender and massage oil. Run yourself a lavender essential oil bath and put a fresh sprig of lavender between the bed sheets. Enjoy a milky drink in the evening. This is mother's classic remedy grounded in good medical science. Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain which helps to control sleep patterns. A milky drink may not be enough on its own, but it can help you move towards a solution.
Is your morning look enough to frighten young children, rather than being that of a refreshed, relaxed, sane person? You can always cheat your way to peachy skin. Make yourself a spa solution by soaking crushed almonds in water overnight and addding honey to make a paste applied to the skin for 20 minutes. You're sure to get your glow back. So if you are struggling with a need for sleep, but don't want to break the bank, stay at home and take control naturally; you'd be surprised how much better you can feel after some staycation spa remedies.