Lauren Laverne On Sleep And Stress
Lauren Laverne, broadcaster, writer and co-founder of The Pool (a new digital platform for women who are too busy to browse), talks with us about unwinding in an uber busy life
Beckie Andrews: Sleep experts say that the blue light emitted from gadgets can disrupt our natural sleep patterns, and we should turn devices off 2 hours before bed, eek! Do you ever find it difficult to unplug?
Lauren Laverne: I always try to, but I’m not perfect at it. Like everyone else I can end up with my laptop on my knee working when I should be winding down, or ‘reading clothes’ online. I’ve gone back to a paper book at bedtime when I want to retain the information more deeply (after reading The Shallows, which outlines the neurological differences between reading on paper and onscreen). I really try not to do that double-screen thing where you’re tweeting about True Detective whilst watching it! Time really is the most precious thing any of us have
BA: What about social media? You have more than 350,000 twitter followers, do you ever feel like taking a digital detox?
LL: It’s funny because people often assume I’m constantly on Twitter or social media, but I’m really not. It wouldn’t be very interesting for anyone following you if you were just burping out a monologue about your day, after all… So I consider what I post, and make it fun. I very much enjoy Twitter but I’m not beholden to it. I often go all weekend without looking at or posting much, and I enjoy that. Otherwise where would the fun be in plugging back in? Facebook I keep for friends and family – it’s a lovely way to connect and keep up, and chat more informally. That’s where I’m REALLY boring – ha!
BA: Do you have any tips for getting to sleep after a stressful day?
LL: A hot shower, lovely aromatherapy scrubs and oils and fresh PJs, plus a good book usually does the trick. Something absorbing and miles away from anything connected to work. At the moment I’m reading Letter to the King. Very occasionally I wake up with ‘washing machine head’ in the middle of the night – the worst. I always scribble down a list of things I’m worried about and promise myself I’ll worry about them all in the morning, which helps me fall back to sleep.
BA: Do you have a favourite place when you need a moment of calm? In between radio, TV, festivals and your little ones?
LL: I’m so lucky to live and work in London, which has all these astonishing institutions and attractions, and free spaces. Regent’s Park is just around the corner from The Pool. So I might sit under a tree and have lunch there if I need to clear my head. The British Museum is just around the corner – the clock gallery is so beautiful and peaceful. And the Southbank is my all time favourite. Walking down there and across the bridge from town just like Charles Dickens liked to. Amazing.
If you were planning the perfect pamper night in, tell us how you’d spend it.
LL: I love a good scrub, an oil hair mask left on for hours, plus a mani, pedi and face mask, with the radio on and having a laugh with my mates on Facebook.
BA: You’ve interviewed some mega stars! How do you stay calm and relaxed before you interview someone really cool?
LL: Sometimes you don’t – I worry more about doing a good job than actually meeting the person, though. I mean if you have 15 minutes with Meryl Streep you really want to make them count. In those situations I just focus really intensely on what I want to find out, what I need to remember, and listen actively – I think being an attentive listener is the most important part of being a good interviewer.
BA: It can be pretty scary exploring new career paths. What inspires you to take on a new challenge?
LL: I get so interested in things I kind of can’t help it. For me The Pool was about solving a problem that I encountered as an internet user – the overwhelming, noisy online atmosphere. I wanted a site that would deliver the content I needed, when I needed it, without all the noise. Sam (Baker, my co-founder) and I couldn’t find it anywhere, so we built it! It was also an opportunity to create a platform for writers and broadcasters to talk to women like we talk to each other, to be smart, funny, kind and engaged with the world.
BA: And what about the times when things don’t go to plan? How do you stay positive if you face setbacks?
LL: It can be really tough – and it’s not always about staying positive. I think sometimes you just have to allow things to be difficult, or scary or hard but not run away from them.
BA: What inspired you to design The Pool especially for busy women?
LL: Because I don’t know any women who aren’t busy! Women are TOO BUSY TO BROWSE! And the online world didn’t seem to reflect that – we wanted a site that was specially tailored to fit into women’s lives and give them everything they needed, and would make them feel good.
When Sam and I first started developing our idea we met a few (male!) tech developers who were really into something focussed on the long, lazy hours of pampering and ‘me-time’ that they imagined women had. We were like ‘who are these women??’
The site offers everything from films and podcasts to blogs and news – all delivered throughout the day at relevant times. There’s an inspirational quote in the morning, news at 11, maybe shopping at lunch, what to eat tonight at 4pm, a blog to read on your journey home, then social spots at night – what we’re watching on TV, a book at bedtime and the Insomniac’s Playlist if you’re up late! People seem to love the timed search function – tell us how long you’ve got and we’ll show you everything that you can watch, read or listen to in that time.
BA: Do you think people are realising that time (or lack of it) affects our wellbeing?
LL: Definitely! Time really is the most precious thing any of us have – the coin of life, right? I just think we have to be aware how we are spending it. Obviously we can’t control every second of our lives, but the time that is ours can be made to count, so we have to protect it and choose how we spend it to safeguard our mental health. If you wouldn’t mindlessly graze on junk food all day, why do the same with junk culture? Or junk people? I’m all for mucking about, having fun and for making time to do nothing – but for me it’s important to be in control of how I spend my time.