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Sleep well

We spend a third of our life doing it; it’s a vital process in our bodies’ ability to function and also to repair itself, yet we are the only species that intentionally deprives itself of sleep. Every facet of wellness is affected by how we sleep, and lack of sleep or inadequate sleep is linked with poor memory and thinking ability, low mood, changeable emotions, anxiety and lack of creativity, yet still we choose to neglect it. Two thirds of adults in developed nations fail to obtain the nightly eight hours of sleep recommended by The World Health Organization.

Preparing our body for sleep – our sleep hygiene – involves a variety of different practices and habits required for quality sleep and full daytime alertness. Here is our 10-step guide to a mindful bedtime routine, what you can do during the day to ensure a good night’s sleep and what to do if shuteye eludes you:

MINDFUL BEDTIME RITUALS

1. Maintaining a regular bedtime helps set your internal body clock and reduces the amount of tossing and turning required to fall asleep. Avoid oversleeping; this will only disrupt your biological clock (circadian rhythm).

2. Ensure your bedroom is quiet, comfortable, dark, cool and ventilated. Even a small amount of light in your bedroom can disrupt the production of melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone) and overall sleep.

3. Daylight is key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Attempt to spend at least 30 minutes outside in natural sunlight each day.

4. Electromagnetic radiation and blue light emitted by phones, laptops and TVs disrupt and overstimulate our central nervous system and significantly suppress melatonin. Embrace disconnecting and practice a ‘digital detox’ routine for at least one hour before bedtime.

5. Calm your senses before your go to bed with dim lighting, listen to soothing and quiet music and have a warm bath with lavender oil or Epsom salts.

6. Don’t lie there worrying about it if you can’t sleep. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then return to bed.

7. Exercise daily and avoid naps after 3pm during the day.

8. Practise gentle restorative yoga before bedtime to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest, recovery and repair.

9. Don’t overindulge; too much food and alcohol will disrupt your sleep later in the night.

10. Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine; they interfere with the process of falling asleep.