The 3 Genius Sleep Tricks Writer Victoria Hannan Swears By to Beat Insomnia
Welcome to Bedtime Stories, an interview series where we ask inspiring individuals to share their nighttime routine and sleep secrets – from the beauty products they can’t live without to the tricks they swear by when they’re too tired to function (no coffee needed). For this instalment, writer, photographer and author of Kokomo, Victoria Hannan, shares the strict rules she swears by that have helped alleviate her decade-long sleep issues.
Imagine falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, sleeping right through the night with zero distractions, and waking up feeling energised so you're ready to take on anything the day throws at you. Sounds like the ultimate dream (pun intended), right?
Unfortunately, the reality for many is that they wake up at various times throughout the night, leaving them tossing and turning for hours on end - which was the case for writer Victoria Hannan.
The photographer and author of novel Kokomo struggled with insomnia for a decade, where she would find herself continuously waking up at 2am, 3am and 5am - and would struggle to fall back asleep. However, with practice, Hannan has now found certain tricks to rid her of her sleep woes.
After quality rest during the night, she's able to wake up without an alarm and make herself a nourishing breakfast so she's ready to tackle her workday by 8am (without needing coffee after 10am or a daytime nap to keep her going).
Here, Bed Threads Journal sat down with the inspiring creative to find out exactly what her strict bedtime routine involves.
Hi Victoria! Welcome to Bedtime Stories. Can you walk us through your bedtime routine?
In winter, I get into bed earlier than I’m willing to admit, mostly because my house is very cold and I have an electric blanket. I try to read in bed every night to minimise my screen time, but some nights I fail to do so and instead watch three episodes of Law & Order SVU before falling asleep with my head on my laptop (I do not recommend doing this!).
I’ve struggled with sleep for about a decade - I wake several times throughout the night and can have trouble getting back to sleep - so I have developed a few tricks that help me. Firstly, I plug my phone in on the other side of the room and won’t look at it from the time I get into bed until I get up. I also have a strict no-nap policy and I don’t have caffeine after 10am. I promise I’m a really fun person though.
What sleep or beauty products do you swear by that you won’t go a night without?
I sometimes wonder if it’s just the ritual of attention that improves my skin rather than the products themselves, but I’m no scientist - I just do what the Internet tells me to do!
A few nights a week I use Go-To Exfoliating Swipeys, which manages to get all the dirt off my face. Every night I cleanse with Kiehl's Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser and then apply a cocktail of serums by The Ordinary.
During the 2020 lockdowns, I got into a good routine of moisturising my legs at night, which I’ve only kept up because the Aesop Rejuvenate Intensive Body Balm smells so good and I keep it right next to my bed so I don’t forget to use it.
What is your solution for those nights you simply can’t nod off to sleep?
I always try reading until I start to feel sleepy. If that doesn’t work, it’s normally because I’ve broken my no-caffeine after 10am rule or stress is keeping me up worrying. For those instances, I have some (THC-free) CBD products that help take the edge off.
What time does your alarm go off in the morning?
My cat likes his breakfast anywhere between 5 and 7am. As soon as I stir, he’ll pester me until I get up and feed him. He is relentless and his hunger is always urgent. I haven’t needed to set an alarm since I got a cat, which is both a blessing and a curse.
If I’m in an intense writing period, I’ll have coffee and try to be at my desk before 8am. I’ll make my breakfast and lunch, and then I’ll work straight through until 3 or 4pm, after which my brain turns to mush.
If I don’t have anywhere to be, I’ll take my coffee back to bed and read until I feel guilty about being in bed for so long (anywhere between 9 and 11am).
What are three things (besides coffee) that help when you’re too tired to function?
It annoys me that everything they told us about exercise is true. It helps me sleep, it gives me more energy when I’m tired and it allows me to better manage my mental health. A swim, a run, a walk - it all makes a difference.
Whenever I’m finding anything hard it usually means my whole body is dried out like a sultana. If I drink a few glasses of water, I always feel better. I’m upset by how basic this tip is.
3. Lean in
If I’m really exhausted, it’s often my body telling me I really need rest. I try not to ignore it and will sit and read in the garden or lie down and watch cooking videos on YouTube (no naps though!).
What do you normally eat for breakfast to kick start your day?
I’m a big fan of eating vegetables for breakfast. One of my favourite ways is a soft-boiled egg atop sautéed lentils and Cavolo nero (any sort of green vegetable will do), a scoop of Greek yoghurt and topped with some hot chilli sauce.
If I’m feeling luxurious, I’ll eat rhubarb stewed with cardamom and rosewater on yoghurt. For something lighter, I’ll make a smoothie with banana, coconut water, yoghurt, peanut butter and a squeeze of honey.