If you're reading this and you're a woman, chances are that you may be feeling tired. New research from the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University suggests that women need, on average, 20 minutes more sleep than men each night.
Twenty minutes doesn't sound much -- but add it up. Over a month, that's a ten-hour sleep deficit. Enough to have the best of us surgically attached to a caffeine drip, baggy-eyed with exhaustion.
So why do women need the extra shut-eye? You'll be delighted to hear that Professor Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre says, "Women tend to work their brains harder than men, and need more sleep as a result... They particularly work the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex -- responsible for intelligence, language, memory and consciousness -- because, unlike men, they switch from one task to another. Selecting which information to attend to -- deciding on actions and priorities -- works the cerebral cortex hard. This is far more taxing than, say, completing tasks sequentially during the day."
There. Proof, if you needed it that women work harder. But what has this to do with spas? Well, I know that whenever I have a relaxation massage, I always sleep well. My go-to home-spa therapy to break a bad sleep pattern always involves lashings of soothing aromatherapy oils. So, this got me wondering what the other Spies turn to when they need to zone out.
Aromatherapy of all kinds is a big favourite. Swedish Spy swears by marjoram. Apparently, she says, "Ancient Greeks planted the herb on their ancestors' graves to ensure them a peaceful sleep". Maybe she's on to something.
One of our Sister Spies from India, currently visiting Spa HQ, tells us that on hot, sleepless nights, she places a bowl of water with rose petals scattered on top next to her bed; this conjures a good night's rest. Bathing your face in rosewater can have a soothing effect, too.
Finally, Sedate Spy recommends checking into a Stay Spa for the ultimate in switching off and catching up on sleep. "Have a massage", she says, "remove yourself from all the stress and strain of home, and turn off the phone." Instant zzzzzz.
According to Professor Horne, the type of sleep that helps your cerebral cortex recover most is deep sleep. So, while we may not be able to catch up on every one of those ten missing hours each month, building relaxation rituals into our daily routine could make us sleep deeper -- and smarter -- every night.