Dreamy, hazy sleep, the sumptuous bliss of soft pillows and perfect warmth, drifting us away into a muzzily delightful world of dreams. Sleep is one of life's great pleasures and now we can enjoy it even more, because we're officially good at it.
According to a recent study, Auckland sleepers have the second-best sleep quality in the world. The VAAY study correlates lifestyle factors like overwork, commute times and caffeine use among city-dwellers to create an index of who gets the best sleep. Apart from Amsterdam, who must fit in some pretty decent naps around all that nightlife (could it be all that red light?), it's Auckland.
Of all the indexes of all the bodily things, this is the one to win. Good sleep is the foundation of good health. It impacts everything from ageing and weight to heart disease, even to how likely you are to remember your own name at the big pitch meeting. It's enough to give you a sleepless night. Humans are the only animal that routinely undersleeps. Sometimes we have to; sometimes it's fun to. As children we idealise staying up late, something that begins at birth. Shakespeare wrote, "Macbeth does murder sleep," so it's amazing that more babies aren't named Macbeth.
Adults struggle against sleep too: we suffer from Netflix-based couch inertia or stay out too long, borrowing some of tomorrow's happiness to use tonight. In the morning we curse our hedonistic slightly younger selves for treating sleep so lightly, mourning the hours that got away.
We can't survive without sleep. The estimate is that about 11 sleepless days will do us in, but from day three our dreams start popping up as hallucinations. What a waste of our busy, creative unconscious that usually works so tirelessly during sleep to entertain and impress us. We're secretly but rightly proud of our dreams: they're perhaps the only times we know ourselves capable of truly original thought. The best ones are cinematic epics of adventure, vivid in texture and colour, through which we soar in triumph and just possibly encounter our favourite Bridgerton character. The worst plunge us into our deepest fears and we wake, sweaty and snarled, to relief: the snakes have gone, we don't have to unexpectedly sing lead soprano in that opera, we did remember to put the cat out.
Lucky then, that Aucklanders get good sleep; but this is Auckland after all, so more importantly, what are we wearing to get it? Forget #OOTD, what matters is your Outfit Of The Night.
Marilyn Monroe famously wore nothing to bed except Chanel No.5. According to multiple studies done by actual scientists who presumably got some kind of funding to watch people in various stages of undress, she was right. Even undies can impede deep sleep by cutting into your skin, blocking melatonin and keeping stress hormone levels elevated.
But nude sleepers beware: in an emergency you're the one outside in the cold waiting for a first-responder to throw a Mylar blanket over your shame. What's that doing for your stress levels? Even if you don't lose sleep over that, you must admit that along with your spritz of classic fragrance, you're also sporting an industrial strength night cream, a sleepmask to block the glare of your partner's doomscrolling, maybe some heel balm, a prescribed mouthguard to stop you grinding your teeth to nubbins, and a Fitbit. Nudity is relative.
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To give Munroe her due, nightwear is a nightmare. A nightie is just a floral shroud that rolls up around the middle and tangles the legs. The look is less romantic Austen heroine, more Ebenezer Scrooge having a particularly rough Christmas, and no amount of Chanel is going to make that work. Pyjamas are better then, aren't they?
No. Pyjamas are the very devil. All the disadvantages of a nightgown split into two for twice the uselessness. Instead of one bunchy midriff roll you get a pair of ruched knickerbockers and a flannelette armpit belt. The elastic waistband impedes whatever blood flow you have left (according to the aforementioned actual science) and there you have it: the literal worst sleep garment, with a breast pocket for some reason. That'll be handy for … pens? Gum? A pocket square in case your dreams are semi-formal? Nudity wins: keep a robe and slippers near at hand for emergencies - but otherwise drench yourself in a signature fragrance and sleep like a movie star.
When you sink, nude and highly scented, into those delicious sheets, what are you hoping for? The stiff fancy-napkin fold of a high thread count? Or a cheap and cheerful polyester blend, so long as you don't roll over too fast and give your nudity a friction burn? In the bleak midwinter, there's nothing like the soft, cosy embrace of flannel - unless it's been through the wash more than twice. Jumping into rough, pilly flannel is like coming off your bike on gravel or kissing a man who forgot to shave: invigorating, but inclined to leave a mark.
Little wonder that so much of the world has thrown off the tyranny of the top sheet and embraced the duvet. And no, it's not difficult to get a clean cover back on. You just turn it inside out and then get mostly - but not entirely - inside it and then use your sock puppet hands to grip the top outer corners of the inner and then reverse everything you did so far while holding on tight and flicking and okay, it's difficult.
However you do it, there's no greater bliss than sleep. To wake briefly, fearing it's nearly time for the alarm and then realising you've got glorious hours yet. To feel your eyelids growing heavy and the drowsiness rolling in like mist. To relax into gently yielding pillows, weary bones sinking through flesh, through springs and ticking and floor, into the earth below to take root and sup from the artesian wells of deep, deep sleep.
To know you're nearly the best in the world at it and practice can only make perfect, bliss.