We all know that getting enough sleep is good for us. I have a mental block when it comes to sleeping. I keep myself awake at night, doing all of the things I feel can’t wait another moment, and then in the morning I feel too guilty to lie in, even though I am currently working nights in the theatre. Whether I’m working in the evenings or not, I always feel too guilty to lie in, it must have been my mother when I was a child, telling me I was wasting the day!

The result of all this, is about 5-6 hours sleep a night – this is the case at the moment anyway. My sleep patterns are always erratic. I am an extremely light sleeper and have to sleep in an eye mask, and with ear plugs. I love sleeping in the afternoon whenever I can, and am free to, even 10 minutes helps me, I always feel better for it. I sleep better away from home, because there feels like less that needs to be done. No tidying, or paperwork. All of this, of course, implies that my sleeping problems are all created in my head – implications aside, I know they are.

I asked for some advice when having reflexology a few months ago, and last week I asked my reflexologist Paolo, to remind me which pressure points can be worked on at home, when struggling to sleep and relax.

Reflexology is something I feel I benefit from tremendously, and I’m often being asked questions about it. But today – pressure points to use at home to help with sleeping, relaxing and other things too. The hands have pressure points just as our feet do, as do our faces, so there are some straightforward pressure points to use, without reaching for our feet.

Hand Reflexology Pressure Points, Solar Plexus Point - Stress Reliever

Solar Plexus – Cup your hand, find the deepest point of the palm when it is cupped – mine is in line with the gap of my index and middle finger (I have marked with a pink dot on the photograph above). Press into it, I use the opposite thumb to do so. Paolo tells me that the Solar Plexus helps to significantly reduce stress, it is beneficial throughout the day at stressful moments, not just when trying to relax and sleep. It is interesting to think of people, when stressed or anxious, rubbing their hands. The body often helps us in a subconscious way. Pressing between the eyebrows (solar plexus), and also at the same time pressing into the bottom point of the cheek bone (neurovascular point) is meant to be the most effective of all (photograph below).

Pressure Points Face

Pituitary Gland –  Located on the thumb – some people including me – have a tiny bit that sticks out on the pad of the thumb, that is the pituitary gland. It is also where your thumb print becomes a swirl. Taking a pencil with a rubber on the end press into this point for 10 seconds a few times a day. It helps with balancing hormonal levels, and helps during stress or PMT or if you can’t relax and sleep.


Sinus – If you have a cold or are feeling congested, massage your fingers, with good pressure. It will help with clearing sinusitis, do it a few times a day. Paolo says that doing this will leave you with sense of lightness because the meridians (energy channels) end at the tips of the fingers.

Constipation – If you feel constipated, you can make a fist with your hand, and massage the palm of your other hand. Concentrate on the outer part of hand and the centre – this will stimulate Large intestines.

Negative Thoughts – Rub up and down by your ears, I use primarily my index fingers on each side of my face. Paolo says this stimulates an acupuncture point, that helps to rid negative thoughts, by releasing the part of the brain in which we store them. 15 times to open, and repeat 15 times again to close. A busy brain, often with worries, is definitely a major sleep inhibitor.

My cocktail for a beautiful sleep, my many and varied favourites-

Holistic Silk Eye Mask – My number one sleep priority. I have slept with an eyemask, ever since buying my first Holistic Silk one in Brighton six years ago. I wear it every night. It is filled with lavender. These are not cheap, but considering I wear it nightly, it’s worth the approx £40 that they cost.
 I slept with it every single night in the tent in Norway, whilst doing 71 Degrees North. It also prevented me not waking up with frozen eyelashes as some other people did!

Earplugs – I prefer foam not wax. I shouldn’t really be advocating earplugs at all, I don’t believe they are ideal night after night. But if they help you get off to sleep by blocking out a little noise and putting you in your own world, as they do for me, then I think they are helpful!

Elemis Spa at Home Products – Quiet Mind Temple Balm, and Quiet Mind Room Mist from Elemis’ Spa at Home product line, have been my saviours of late. I use a little on my wrists and pulse points of my neck, and ear lobes nightly. And I spritz my pillows with the room mist. Fragranced with  patchouli, eucalyptus and ho wood oils.

Bath – A hot bath, is always way to start feeling sleepy, and relax. My favourite nighttime oils for the bath are most definitely ESPA’s Soothing Bath Oil (Sandalwood and Myrrh) – their Soothing candle is also on my sleepy list, and Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Mind Bath and Body (Frankincense & Petitgrain). I had a fabulous treatment at the new Aromatherapy Associates treatment rooms, on Montpellier Street in Knightsbridge, a few months ago when I was feeling particularly restless, and I can’t remember ever feeling so completely and utterly relaxed.

Phones off – Vital, absolutely vital. If I see my phone light up, even on silent, I think maybe I should just glance at it. Another huge problem for me with my phone is that I use it as an alarm clock, so I will sometimes press on it in the night to check what time it is, and by doing that I see texts and instant messages, and facebook updates all neatly listed for my attention under the time. I try not to look. Then I do. It is so much better to realise that a phone’s alarm clock will still go off when the phone is turned off. If you are someone, like me, who likes to check the time, a watch next to the bed, is much less of a distraction. It is not essential to get back to people immediately, especially when you are sleeping. As for my lovely friends, who leave their phones on full volume overnight – madness!


Holistic Silk Eye Mask – two website options – the cult beauty one is cheaper at £36.00, but there is only one colour option

Cult Beauty or Holistic Silk Official Website

Elemis Quiet Mind Temple Balm 15ml £14.00

Elemis Quiet Mind Room Spray 50ml £15.00

ESPA Soothing Bath Oil 100ml £26.50

Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Mind 55ml £37.00 (currently, updated June, £29.60- I think they may be changing packaging)

Paolo works at Neville Hair and Beauty in Knightsbridge, for his tips he is contactable and followable on his facebook page http://www.facebook.com/paololai

Please share with me, things that work for you, I would be very interested to hear.

Sleep well

22 Comments on Sleep and Stress – Tips, products, and pressure points

  1. I totally agree: reflexology is a great way to get the body ready for slumber:)) I meditate, read, and then rub my earlobes – for several minutes – to get into a tired state of mind. Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:))

  2. Very well written post. I totally agree with the benefits of Reflexology (I am doing a once a week for 6 weeks at the moment and plan to do the same just before the winter). I like to put a CD (low volume) of Natural Sounds when I go to bed, the soft sound helps me to relax and switch off the inside the head chatter. I don’t recommend sounds of rain or the sea, although such sounds are very relaxing, they can wake up the bladder! x

  3. I could spend hours talking about my sleeping patterns! Insomnia is my best friend since ages, and I have tried everything to sort it, but as you say, it’s all in my head.

    What I do now is: no laptop, no phone, no nothing after a light dinner, just a good book or a bit of TV. If I go out and I get home late at night, the same, a book or TV, whatever to distract me from the conversations had during the night out.

    The last thing I’ve tried and works (even for my headaches) is Lavander essential oil. One drop between the eyebrows, another drop on my temples and of course on my pillow. Wonderful.

    I must try reflexology

  4. Your sleeping patten is exactly like mine. I can never go to bed early as I always have something to be doing so much so as when I am actually in bed I literally jump out of it to do something else I have forgotten. My body also ha the inability to sleep in I awaken at the same time every day. This can be very annoying. My insomnia started when I was a child, I shared a room with my sister and for whatever reason I couldn’t sleep and I tried everything. I ended up reading most of the night so there would be less chance of me disturbing my sister. I definitely clock watch which I know doesn’t help me sleep and notice texts emails etc on my phone. I have slowly but surely gotten better at sleeping only over the last year which at 31 means I have not had a lot of sleep. Some people say the didn’t sleep at all last night which usually means they have had a restless sleep I used to get a couple of hours then lay from 3-4am awake. My brain also kicks in reminding me of things I need to do or forgot to do so I have now left a pen and notepad beside my bed to jot down things that pop into my head and then I know I don’t have to remember them all night therefore my brain stops going over them again and again. Lavender has been my saviour and I have always wore an eye mask and occasionally ear plugs. I’m definitely going to get a holistic silk eye mask as you need to invest in your sleep 😉

    • Hi Poppy,
      Such an interesting reply- I can fully relate to all that you have said although my up and down sleep started later in life than yours. I think sharing a room with someone and lying awake is one of the most boring and lonely feelings I know. I also always seem to fall back to sleep 15 minutes before I need to wake up.

      Definitely try the holistic silk eyemask- it makes such a difference for me


      • My lack of sleep probably stems from the fact that I’m a born worrier and find it very hard to relax. I am gradually learning how to relax and not let everything bother me. Some nights are harder than others but as you said lying awake next to someone is so boring and frustrating especially when they fall asleep when their head hits the pillow (my bf does this). Your tips have definitely helped and I’m trying to start my night routine earlier so I’m already in relaxation mode before I go to bed.

  5. Great blog Suz.
    Very informative – I will try some of your tips. Bit worried you might be doing Paulo out of a job!
    Glad to hear you don’t like to have a waste of a day. Life is too short. I love it!


  6. I bought a holistic health eye mask yesterday and it arrived today (cult beauty). Very impressed, even managed an afternoon nap wearing it and what a difference it made (I’m pregnant and 3 days overdue before you think I’m just lazy!!) I want to try the Elemis temple balm next, as I am sure these things make a huge difference to quality of sleep.
    You are costing me a fortune with all your fabulous recommendations! Everything I have tried has been fantastic. I am such a fan of your blog and look forward to the next entry x

  7. Funny how things come back to mind! There is a great herbal drink (which you heat up) called Norfolk Punch. I used to get in Holland&Barrett when in Surrey but I have never found it in my current local area.

    Having now looked up it up on the internet and found it, I have ordered 6 bottles.

    here are the Contact details

    By E-mail

    General Enquiries

    Sales Enquiries


    By Telephone

    Retail Sales Line
    (+44) 0845 250 1254

    (+44) 01578 722 069

    By Post

    Norfolk Punch
    1 East High Street
    TD2 6SS

    The “original” one is slightly sweet and thick-ish on the tongue (I remember adding a bit of water now and then) – once heated up the aroma is delightful. And it does make you sleepy.

    To anyone struggling to fall asleep, I would recommend to buy a bottle and try it.

  8. I bought a holistic health eye mask this past weekend, thank you for recommending it. I love it.

    I find vanilla scents really soothing as well so I have a room spray and a Scentsy warmer with vanilla lemon wax in, before I sleep.

  9. I’ve finally bought a hollistic lavender eye mask and strangely after two nights wearing it (one which I had a completely peacefull sleep) my dark under eye circles have greatly minimized. I’ve done absolutely nothing else different. I usually wear an eye mask but this one is way better with the added bonus of not having to wear as much makeup 🙂

    Love your recommendations 🙂

  10. Wowsers,5-6 hrs sleep a night&u lk that gd?Just think what u might look like with a full 8 hrs!Always been able to get 8 hrs me,but lk rough as rats,hehe,as ever lots of gd stuff in there,i can see you put alot of work into your blogs,thanks interesting!:)X

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