Singer and songwriter Sophie Ellis-Bextor, 43, may have released seven albums, but it was her Kitchen Discos during 2020’s first lockdown that made her a national treasure. Broadcast via her IG Live, Sophie performed in full sequins and glam makeup from her kitchen (with occasional appearances from her children). The Friday night home gigs cheered up the nation – and garnered her a whole new set of fans.
Married to fellow musician Richard Jones of The Feeling, Sophie is mother to five sons aged between three and 18 years old – which means a good night’s sleep is not as common an occurrence as she’d like.
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“I really love sleep but it is not in abundance in my life,” she says “I have five sons aged between three and 18, so for decades now there’s been more than me and Rich in our bed.
“Pretty much every night we have a three year old and a 10 year old in the middle of us, but I’ve got good at sleeping in such circumstances. I actually can survive on not very much.
“When I did the 24 hour danceathon for Children In Need (Sophie’s efforts in 2021 raised more than £1million), I didn’t flag through the night thanks to all the cheerleaders helping me on. When it ended, I didn’t flop into bed afterwards, instead I had a really strong coffee at 8am to get me through then went for a lovely long brunch and drank Champagne.
“I think the secret is that I love the life I lead and have pretty good energy levels. Having said that, what a luxury a good night’s sleep is and I do have some tricks and tips that help me nod off.”
So what does a Kitchen Disco Queen have in her Sleep Kit? These are Sophie’s swear bys.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, from a selection at Waitrose
Wine is first on my list. Now I know it’s the received wisdom that drinking stops you getting quality ZZZs, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for me.
There is nothing more important to me than a big family meal in the evening – it is vital to my day and sense of wellbeing – it’s my downtime when we have a giant debrief. We all muck in and cook together. Japanese and Mexican food are favourites because we can tailor them to the kids spicewise.
So Rich and I have a lovely glass or two while we eat and it puts me in a relaxed frame of mind.
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Nintendo Gameboy, from a selection on Amazon
I really enjoy a proper Gameboy session on my ‘vintage’ Nintendo. I love Tetris, an 80s puzzle video game that allows me to focus my brain until I fall into a meditative state.
My mum (legendary Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis) says I have always says been an energetic bunny of a person. In fact, we have a podcast together called Spinning Plates, where we chat to fellow busy mums.
On reflection, perhaps the key to a good life and a good night’s sleep are the same: Being ridiculously busy by day!
This Works Sleep Plus Bath Oil, £15
I have a lovely long bath in essential oils. I’m not really fussy about beauty treatments but I do love bath oils and massages.
Often I am asked about my routine and my Mum did teach me to cleanse, tone and moisturise but honestly, life is too short. I’m wearing last night’s makeup as I write this. (Reader, it’s 10am!)
Aromatherapy is powerful though, and this oil helps me switch into night mode. It’s a luxurious bath soak containing lavender, vetiver and camomile which helps me deeply relax.
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Pukka Liquorice and Cinnamon Herbal Tea, £3.45
I’m a big fan of herbal tea generally and I love this one in particular, it’s my go-to. I steer towards strong flavours. I literally am a Queen of Condiments and collect hot sauces from around the world. The unique flavour of liquorice is one of them.
This is from Kazakhstan and Egypt and is sweet and nourishing, caffeine free and ethically sourced, which is important to me.
Ponti by Sharlene Teo, £8.99
Last thing at night is my time to read but it has to be something optimistic, lovely and uplifting.
The last book that ticked all those boxes was Ponti by Sharlene Teo. It’s an award-winning novel about the value of friendship in present day Singapore. It’s Teo’s first novel and I absolutely loved it.
Alternatively, I still have a book on my bedside table entitled Between: A Guide for Parents of 8-13 Years Olds, which I still haven’t read. Then it’s lights out.
READ MORE Love. Food. Family: Recipes From the Kitchen Disco by Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Richard Jones is out now.