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Sleep can be frustratingly elusive – especially when anxiety levels are at their peak. However, whirring, over-thinking minds can be put to rest in a few simple steps. Our expert tips make for a sedative night-time ritual, no Valium required.

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Good sleep starts long before you get into bed – and Dr Sepp Fegerl, Medical Director at VIVAMAYR, Altaussee, believes that inflammation in the gut is the root cause of long-term insomnia. ‘When stress levels are high, our digestive strength is weaker than normal: leading to fermentation, decay and inflammation,’ he explains – ‘And this leads to a decrease in the production of serotonin, the “happy hormone”. If you consider that the “sleeping” hormone, Melatonin, is build out of serotonin, you begin to understand how inflammation can ruin our quality of sleep’. Fergerl suggests chewing every small bite of food throughout the day – ‘Until it is turned to liquid – this turns almost everything into something digestible!’ – and avoid raw food after 4pm (which the body finds hard to digest).

Co-founder of Wild Nutrition, nutritionist Henrietta Norton, believes that a restful night’s sleep begins by banning digital devices from the bedroom. ‘Melatonin plays a major role in our ‘sleeping and waking’ cycles – and its production is controlled by exposure to light’. Not feeling sleepy enough to “wind down” and go to bed is symptomatic of “melatonin deficiency”, she explains – so cut out blue light before bed. ‘Light of any kind affects the rise of melatonin, but research shows that blue light (emitted from the screens of devices such as computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and television) has the most negative impact’. Norton advises supplementing with magnesium in the evening to increase sleep-inducing serotonin levels – otherwise you could add a large handful of magnesium flakes to a pre-bed bath.

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A proper breathing technique also helps, and Katie Brindle, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and founder of the Hayou method, is a huge fan of what she calls the “Rescue Breath”. ‘Take a deep breath in, and as you breathe out, you imagine a “smile” in your lower abdomen’ – she explains (it helps to trace the curve of the abdomen with your hands simultaneously). ‘It’s a simple technique but, if practised regularly throughout the day, it allows the body to engage repeatedly in the “rest” phase, which in turns brings an easier sleeping pattern into the body,’ explains Brindle. Still not feeling sleepy? Repeat the exercise before you switch off the lights.

Finally, don’t overlook good sleep hygiene – which means going to bed before midnight, eliminating noise, and ensuring that your bedroom is dark and slightly cool. ‘These changes do require time,’ admits Fegerl – ‘But it’s always worth it to change the direction’. A peaceful night’s sleep awaits…

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