by Anne Laing and Tim Bean


Healthy people deprived of a single night’s sleep have a 30 per cent drop in immune-system activity. After 36 hours of sleep deprivation, the emotional centres of the brain are 60 per cent more prone to depression and lethargy, which impairs powers of logic, reasoning and judgement.

Don’t skimp on your sleep! For good health, adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you’re still tired when the alarm goes off, you’re not getting enough rest. The prime time for recharging and recovery is between 11pm and 1am.

After a hard day, take a hot bath with a few drops of lavender or chamomile oil to relax the muscles then go straight to bed. The heat from the bath will improve circulation and slow your body’s processes down. In addition, the act of washing off the grime of the working day is symbolic of cleansing the mind as well as the body, and may make you much more attractive to your partner!

For deeper sleep, lose some weight. An overweight person will snore more than a lean person, and snoring leads to a drop in sleep quality and even sleep apnoea. This is certainly a contributing factor as to why a heavier person will seem to be wearier during the day and succumb to lapses of concentration and random dozing more easily. Get fit; get lean; get energised!

Sleep tips

  • Don’t eat your largest main meal at night as it over-stimulates the digestive system and releases hundreds of energy calories into the bloodstream.
  • Avoid taking an alcoholic or caffeine-based nightcap; this will just pep you up.
  • Prepare yourself for sleep. You need to wind down and let the day slip away gently. About 30 minutes before bedtime, play some relaxing music, turn off the phone, shut down your email and open a window to let in some fresh air.
  • Take melatonin supplement as you go to bed. A tablet of 3mg every night is appropriate for most adults. It is a powerful antioxidant, and studies have demonstrated it can lead to an increase in life expectancy.
  • Watching TV in the bedroom stimulates the brain and makes it more difficult to clear the mind and fall asleep. Try to avoid watching TV or doing anything associated with work, anything that will cause you to worry, or anything that will stimulate your mind rather than relax you.
  • Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Avoid using your bedroom for work or anything other than for sleep, rest and intimacy. Do not have your laptop, mobile or Blackberry in the same room, or you will achieve none of the above.
  • Hide your clock. Being able to focus on the time and worrying that you are still not sleeping will not help you fall asleep. Make sure that the time is not visible when you are trying to fall asleep.

The difference between who you are now and what shape you want to be, lies in what it is you do.