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What the Lush Sleepy phenomenon tells us about motherhood…

September 4, 2017

I’ve just covered my two-and-a-half year old in Lush’s body lotion, Sleepy. ‘Slathered’ might be a more accurate term, as she now smells like a lavender-soaked granny and is damper than an otter’s pocket. It’s the third night of us using this so-called wonder product, and I have to say that we haven’t noticed a huge difference, apart from her falling asleep a bit quicker, but the night time wake ups are still frequent and painful, and we’re still starting the day when there are stars in the sky. She closes her eyes at the dusk call to prayer, and wakes at 4.30am, when the mosque sounds again, and in between I send my own missives up to whoever is listening. For sleep sleep sleep.

But this isn’t a review.

What I find interesting about the Sleepy craze, is the fervour and speed of which news of the product spread. First a few posts on Facebook, with people tagging their most insomnia-challenged friends, then the Daily Mail started sharing stories of mums whose previously nocturnal little ones now sleep 14 hours straight. Stores were ransacked, it sold out all over the world, whispers spread online where to track some down. It was gold dust. Unicorn poo. Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. We all had to have it.

The cynic in me, of course, wonders if Lush has a very crafty PR team at work behind the scenes, but testimonials from friends and readers suggest that there might just be something in it – that the combination of oatmeal, lavender and hope does indeed have the power to soothe.

And the hope is key. As the mum of two young children, I don’t think I’ve had a good night’s sleep since 2014. I’ve googled late into the night. So much googling. Looking for experts or fellow mums in forums who can help with the EXACT problem I have. Looking for a product to ease eye-watering nipple agony, or my baby’s trapped wind, or bottles to help with colic. And buying it, bleary-eyed, with my iPhone in one hand, and my baby on my boob. Late night online shopping in the dark. A rush of euphoria as I press ‘purchase’.

As new mums, we’re vulnerable. Desperate. And tired. So very tired. So when something like Sleepy comes along – literally a magic potion – we’re entranced. “It will cure us!” we cry. This is what was missing!

Much like me having a long-held fantasy of a genie asking which celebrity’s body I would like to have (many hours have been spent daydreaming about this) and me waking up with the slim hourglass curves of Eva Mendes, rather than having to exercise and diet, we’re all looking for a quick fix.

Understandably, we don’t want to wait for this sleepless ‘phase’ to end, we don’t want to try crying it out, or endless nights sleep training. We want a miracle. A short cut.

That’s why, when we have a ‘good’ night with the baby, the next evening we try to recreate the exact circumstances. The lucky sleepsuit. The same dinner. A bath at the same time. Standing RIGHT THERE. That sleep is a code to be cracked.

The truth is this: some babies sleep and some don’t. Some adults sleep and some don’t. Scientifically speaking, a relaxing massage before bed with a cream that includes ingredients proven to calm may help. The confidence from having something ‘magic’ in our night time arsenal may help. The mythical promise of some solid shut-eye won’t do any harm either.

Lush isn’t selling us stone soup, or creating a 2017 version of the Emperor’s new clothes, they’ve packaged up sweet smelling hope, and for many of us, that’s what was missing.

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