If anyone knows the importance of a good night’s sleep, it must be someone who has been on duty for 70 years – Her Majesty The Queen. And to ensure she gets the best night’s sleep possible, she reportedly follows a strict bedtime regime to help her unwind and relax.
For many of us, drifting off can be a difficult task. However, the Queen, who must always be well-rested before her days filled with public engagements, royal meetings and correspondence, has stuck to a tried and tested formula, it has been reported.
So, in the hope of fixing her own sleep schedule, a reporter from this media group – Julia Banim, of The Mirror, decided to try out the Queen’s night-time routine for herself to see if the royal treatment worked – and if so, how well it worked.
She said: “Like many people, I struggle to drift off at night, with too much 1am scrolling, inevitably leaving me grey-faced and yawning by the time I open my in-box.”
It is thought the Queen’s settling-down routine begins with taking an evening walk, something generally considered to be a solid way to relax. According to an article in The Times in 2017, a Palace guard once mistook her for an intruder during one of her night-time promenades, leading him to exclaim: “Bloody hell, Your Majesty, I nearly shot you!”
“Such risks aside,” Banim wrote, “although I sadly don’t have any sprawling grounds to speak of, I did need to nip to Morrisons, which surely adds up to a fair stretch of Balmoral, albeit less scenic. After returning from my queenly stroll, I showered and slipped into the sort of nightie Her Majesty might well approve of.
Although we cannot know exactly what attire the Queen wears to bed, Michael Fagan, who broke into the Monarch’s bedroom back in 1982, has given some idea. During a 2020 interview with The Independent , Fagan recalled: “Her nightie was one of those Liberty prints and it was down to her knees”.
Said Banim: “I can’t afford Liberty fabric, but I did manage to get a knee-length floral nightdress online – a far cry from my usual mismatched Christmas jammies. But the light, feminine prettiness of the nightie strangely did make me feel quite calm, in a nostalgic sort of way that made me want to brush my hair properly and apply eye cream. Then, feeling curiously elegant – and dare I say royal – I settled in for the night.”
As she winds down, it is said Her Majesty takes a little time to catch up on her correspondence. According to a Mail Online article published in 2018, the Queen often spends some of her evening “working on her boxes” – the containers holding correspondence from various government departments in the UK and other Commonwealth countries.
“Unfortunately I’m still waiting on a call from the Prime Minister asking for my thoughts on state affairs,” Banim continued, “but I have a personal alternative – Whatsapp. Being an introvert, correspondence is something I am quite bad at. As much as I love my friends, I do sometimes find replying to group chats a bit overwhelming after a full day’s work, and am guilty of putting off replies. However, knowing that the Queen would never shirk from such duties, I made sure to catch up on all my messages. And I felt far better for it.”
Then, like the Queen, Banim said she went into full relaxation mode around 9pm, settling down in front of the television with a warming hot water bottle on her lap. She wrote: “As per a 1992 Vanity Fair article, her assistants always make sure a hot water bottle is packed for her travels, which is then slipped into her bed ready for her.
“I myself am partial to a hot water bottle. However, as a stress-head who rarely takes time out to look after myself, I often forget such little luxuries,” Banim added. “But even on a balmy May night, the heat is very soothing, taking me straight to cosy town.”
When it comes to choice of TV programme, the Queen is said to be a fan of shows such as Dad’s Army, Doctor Who, Last of the Summer Wine, and Downton Abbey.
“I myself settled on Downton, with the lull of the title music and dreamy interiors immersing me in the TV equivalent of a posh and soapy bath. An excellent suggestion, Ma’am.” According to a 2015 article in The Telegraph, the Queen enjoys pointing out “things they have got wrong” – partly because she is familiar with Highclere Castle, the stately Hampshire pile used as the setting for Downton.
The Queen’s late cousin Margaret Rhodes previously claimed that the monarch sipped a glass of champagne every night before bedtime. It’s unclear what is her brand of choice, however, as per Town and Country magazine, Bollinger, Krug, Lanson, and Pol Roger have all been granted royal warrants over the years.
Said Banim: “I’m not someone who drinks fizz unless I’m at a party, but this little indulgence intrigued me. I poured myself a glass of prosecco while I kicked back on the couch, and started feeling very regal indeed. While I’m certainly not advocating drinking to help you sleep on a nightly basis, I soon felt my troubles float away and found myself much preferring it to my usual drink-at-home choice, rosé. And I did pour a cheeky second glass.”
By 11 pm, the Queen is reportedly all tucked up in bed, ensuring she gets a solid eight and a half hours before waking at 7:30am. Just before nodding off, she is said to enjoy a bit of reading, with the 96-year-old being particularly fond of Dick Francis, author of a number of horse-racing centred mysteries.
“I’m not entirely sure what she’d make of the novel on my bedside table – Bella Mackie’s darkly comic How to Kill Your Family,” wrote Banim. “However, given that she’s said to enjoy detective fiction, I’m sure she doesn’t mind a bloody narrative every now and then. I also made sure to read through a few magazine articles about the upcoming jubilee, reading material which I’m sure she’d think very proper.”
Despite her love of reading, Banim said that all too often she found herself scrolling through Twitter in the last 10 minutes of her waking day. But “dedicating a little spot of me-time to reading felt much better,” she added, “and will definitely be something I’ll be carrying back with me to my regular commoner bedtime regime.”
Banim reported that the next day, she felt genuinely more refreshed, with a positive mindset “I rarely have before 9am”. She said: “With this in mind, I will definitely be taking on board some of her bedtime rituals.”
Of her Queen’s routine, Banim concluded: “Like many people, I’m often too busy to think about a night-time regime per se, and so will often feel unnecessarily stressed until the moment I shut my eyes. I’ve learnt, of course, that this is counterproductive. Taking the time for little creature comforts helped put me in the right frame of mind for quality sleep, and I even had more vivid and pleasant dreams than I usually would. Of course, I may well have to swap the bubbles of champagne for the bubbles of lemonade until my Lottery numbers come in. . .”
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