Nightstands tell us a lot about a person. Between jewellery and books, sleep aids and elusive top drawers (is it hot in here, or is it just us?), what someone surrounds themselves with in their quietest moments are what layer up their lives as a whole.
With that in mind, we got into bed with Elizabeth Day, an award-winning journalist, host of our favourite podcast, How to Fail, and author of Friendaholic: Confessions of a Friendship Addict (out now).
Missoma: Let’s set the scene. Can you describe your nightstand and bed setup to us, and what you always keep beside you?
Elizabeth Day: When my now-husband and I moved in together, he insisted on investing in a massive and extremely comfortable bed. I was skeptical… But now I’m really happy that he insisted. So, we have a massive bed where one of us can sleep on one side and the other one can barely know that that person is there.
On my bedside table there's a lamp, a copy of my new book, and a vintage edition of the Penguin Book of Aphorisms, which just has a nice graphic cover. There’s an ashtray from the Sunset Tower hotel (never used by the way) which my husband gave to me when we had an epic trip there.
There’s my grandfather’s cigarette case, which dates from the 1940s in Cairo where he was posted during the Second World War. It’s very precious to me because obviously I loved my grandfather. Then there’s a photo of me cuddling my cat, Huxley — it’s a polaroid photo that’s faded a bit with the sunlight — plus a miniature wooden elephant which my husband, Justin, gave me on our second date.
Elizabeth and her feline friend, Huxley
M: Do you have any rituals for getting a good night’s sleep?
E: Yes! I love to have a long bath where I either read a book or I prop my laptop up on a stool and watch the latest episode of whatever reality TV programme I need to catch up on.
I have some Soapsmith bath salts — love the Soapsmith Bloomsbury soak, it’s amazing. Then I’ll get into my pyjamas, and into bed. I always like to read whatever book I’m currently knee-deep in. And then I pop a CBD gummy.
I’ve just started wearing a silk eye mask and ear plugs because the older I get, the more sensitive I am to even the tiniest glimmer of light or noise. Huxley tends to come and check up on me several times a night, and meow, and start licking my arms, and put his face near my face. Anything I can do to protect my sleep from being woken up by that is what I do!
M: What books are beside your bed at the moment?
E: A whole stack. I’ve got so many books, everywhere, all the time. But, at the top of that stack is The Patriarchs by Angela Saini, which I’m really enjoying. Generally, I keep a lot of books there for future How to Fail podcast guests, which I can’t give away I'm afraid because I like to keep them a secret!
M: That's okay, we'll let you off! Can you tell us a little about your new book ‘Friendaholic: Confessions of a Friend Addict’?
E: During the pandemic my diary, like everyone else’s, emptied overnight and I realised that I really missed my dearest friends. I missed their physicality; I missed being able to hug them; I missed the smell of their perfume. But when I looked at my diary, I realised I hadn’t been spending most of my time with them, and I wondered why that was.
It led me to question my mania for making friends, because actually I’d been making more and more acquaintances, and striving to keep up with their demands as soon as they’d issued them. I wanted to redress the balance.
Exploring that led me into coining the idea of this addiction to friendship. I believe that we have elevated romantic love as a society for many centuries at the cost of friendship love, platonic love, which for me is just as important, and has been more consistent a love throughout my life.
Is there such a thing as too many friends? Is there such a thing as too few friends?
- Elizabeth Day
Because we don’t have a vocabulary to express what friendship means to us, it can mean almost anything, and the broadness of that definition means that we sometimes get into friendships without really expressing what we need or what we’re able to give.
I also wanted to look at the evolutionary history of friendship and why we do it. What academic studies have been conducted? Is there such a thing as too many friends? Is there such a thing as too few friends? What does the science tell us? And beyond that I also spoke to a number of my own friends about their perception of friendship. I wanted it to be a really expansive, encompassing book so that reading it felt like being spoken to by a friend.
Elizabeth in our Molten Pearl Twisted Double Hoops
M: Working for Missoma, our nightstands are naturally overrun by jewellery. Are you a night time taker-offer-er or do you sleep in your favourite pieces?
E: I’m a taker-offer-er. Some of my dearest friends sleep in theirs and I always think that’s so great, I genuinely think that’s so cool *laughs*. Because of the aforementioned ‘any discomfort affecting my sleep’ aspect I take everything off, apart from my wedding and my engagement ring.
M: What are your favourite Missoma pieces?
Get the Look:
Lucy Williams Medium Engravable Roman Arc Coin Pendant Necklace
18ct Gold Plated
M: How has your bedtime routine (and your nightstand) changed since you were in your twenties? Have your priorities shifted?
E: 100% my priorities have shifted. I mean I’ve always loved sleep, but I really feel like I now understand and value the quality of it. I understand that if I drink the night before, the quality of my sleep is not going to be as good or as restful — a massive learning which I don’t think I thought about in my twenties.
I don’t think I actually had a nightstand in my twenties, so the priorities of interior decor and neatness have definitely shifted as well! In terms of my routine, I mean, I’ve always loved a bath and I’ve always been that person who would rather leave a party when it’s at its height and retreat to bed. Because I just love bed *laughs*.
M: What TV show are you watching in bed and who's your favourite bedside companion?
E: I love a lie-in where I prop up my laptop on a pillow and I will watch Married at First Sight and/ or the Real Housewives. My favourite bedside companion is obviously my husband, Justin, followed closely by my cat, Huxley. Justin and I sometimes watch TV together in bed on a lazy Sunday morning and our tastes converge on the Netflix documentary F1: Drive to Survive.
M: Be honest, did you write any of your latest book in bed?
E: I don’t think I did, you know, because as I think I’ve established, I find bed quite a sacred place *laughs*. It’s very important for me to have boundaries between bed and work.
During the lockdown that all got slightly messy and enmeshed. I remember writing columns in my bed, just to have a sort of different start to the day because we all got so hemmed in our routines.
M: What’s a beauty or skincare tip you wish you’d known earlier?
E: Wear SPF. I mean I grew up in Northern Ireland where there wasn’t that much sunshine, so I didn’t think I needed it! But I also grew up in the nineties where everyone was just tanning themselves to a crisp… I wish I’d worn SPF from an earlier age.
M: What do you miss most about home when you’re away?
E: My cat. And my bed. God, I sound obsessed. I miss everything about home actually, I love my home and I’m a real homebody.
M: Do you have an elusive top drawer? And if so, can you tell us what we might find inside?
E: Yes, I do! Though inside it is nothing exciting. You can find a million unclaimed earbuds, a sleep mask, massage oil, and sleep pillow spray from ThisWorks.
M: Phone on the nightstand or somewhere else?
E: On the nightstand, I’m afraid.
M: Big light or little lights?
E: Little lights.
M: Morning lark or night owl?
E: Can I say neither? I like to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, but if forced to choose, I would say morning lark.
M: A scent that makes you think of home?
E: Geraniums always make me think of home.
M: Aside from your own, where’s your favourite bed (and nightstand) in the world?
E: My cousin lives in Los Angeles and she has a guesthouse, and that bed is so comfortable, and the nightstand is perfectedly pointed. She always has a great selection of books with some of mine in it which I find just a lovely gesture. I also love any of the beds and any of the nightstands in any of the Pig Hotels.