SPA DOCTOR: Soothing scents helped me get a good night’s sleep… at last!
Insomnia has been an unwelcome part of my life for a decade. An unbroken night’s sleep is a luxury I rarely enjoy.
As a musician, my sleep patterns are regularly disrupted by my working schedule. At weekends, that can mean working odd hours – sometimes starting at 11pm, and finishing at 6am.
Then I have to switch over to normal bedtimes during the week.
I’ve tried every herbal remedy under the sun, and even popped melatonin pills, designed to trigger sleepiness.
Then last week I read reports of a study concluding that a lifetime of disturbed sleep can increase the risk of heart problems.
It was time to try something else, something different.
As a musician, my sleep patterns are regularly disrupted by my working schedule. The award-winning Congham Hall Hotel and Spa in King’s Lynn (pictured) is a rural Georgian manor house surrounded by 30 acres of lush gardens. I was mostly interested in the spa’s specialist sleep-inducing massage which came highly recommended
The award-winning Congham Hall Hotel and Spa in King’s Lynn is a rural Georgian manor house surrounded by 30 acres of lush gardens.
The former family home is famous for being a floral oasis.
Roughly 400 varieties of herbs bloom in the 11 gardens, evoking a sense of calm with their combined scents.
Some, such as rosemary, are used in the dishes served in the hotel restaurant, and others incorporated into signature spa treatments.
I was mostly interested in the spa’s specialist sleep-inducing massage which came highly recommended.
The ‘five element aroma’, hour-long massage is designed to calm the senses, with a particular focus on smell. I hoped it would relax the signals in the brain that seem to leave mine in a state of excitement at night.
To begin with, the therapist asked me to smell each oil in turn, then choose the combination I liked most. In my case that turned out to be a soothing blend of cedar wood, mandarin, lime, bergamot, frankincense and geranium.
Based on the principles of Chinese medicine (of which my therapist is a fan), ultimate relaxation comes from scents that contain the five fundamental elements in the universe – water, fire, air, earth and metal.
And sure enough, as soon as I inhaled the citrusy, floral and earthy scent, my low-level anxiety eased off.
Next, hot stones were placed on my spine – a first for me.
The purpose is to loosen up muscles and boost your circulation – the deep heat supposedly increases the flow of blood to the muscles, reducing pain, soreness and tension.
All this promotes the likelihood of deep sleep, the type that makes you feel refreshed when you wake up.
Next, my therapist applied medium pressure to my shoulders – the perfect complement to the calming aromas filling my nostrils.
In fact, the combination of heat, gentle pressure and glorious smells was so soothing, I started to drift off.
Unsurprisingly, I had no trouble dozing off that night.
In fact, my sleep clock was reset for several days – I got a solid eight hours, night after night.
For me, that’s a miracle.
A Five Element Aroma Massage costs £65 for 60 minutes/£85 for 90 minutes. conghamhallhotel.co.uk
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