Christmas can be one of the busiest times of the year and we know how difficult it can be to unwind during December. Sleep is so important though and that's why we've teamed up with Fran Johnson, Aromatherapist from Neal's Yard to give you these top tips to help you sleep this Christmas.

Sleep is nature’s way of restoring and recharging both mind and body for a new day, which is especially important throughout the busy festive season to help lower our stress levels. Sleep supports brain function and emotional wellbeing It’s not called beauty sleep for nothing – sleep really is the best anti-ageing support there is, as it helps to restore brightness to your skin.

If you’re 1 of the 5 who feel unusually tired, or 1 in 10 who have prolonged fatigue*, here are five of our favourite natural tips to help you drift off and wake up refreshed to see what Santa’s left under the tree!

1. Switch off

The urge to check in last thing at night is hard to fight, but resist and you should sleep sounder for it. Research has shown that using a smart device before bed can disrupt the body’s production of melatonin, negatively affecting sleep. Try unplugging a couple of hours before bed and avoid late night Christmas shopping on your laptop or iPhone. Better still, make sure you’re connecting with your friends and family over the festive season by cutting out tech, even if it’s just for 24 hours for a mini digital detox.

2. Unwind with lavender

Lavender is excellent for helping you to relax at bedtime. Either pop a few drops of essential oil onto a tissue or your pillow, or unwind in a warm bath infused with a herbal infusion or lavender bath salts. It is a timeless favourite for good reason and is the perfect way to help you feel cosy and warm on a cold day.

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3. Enjoy a herbal night cap

Another great option at bedtime is a cup of herbal tea – hawthorn and chamomile in particular are renowned for their soothing powers. A herbal tincture with a little water also works wonders – tried and trusted valerian and skullcap are ideal. And of course a few drops of a flower essence under the tongue couldn’t be simpler. Sweet dreams.

4. Exercise

Physical activity can help boost a good night’s sleep – but only if it’s the right kind of exercise. It can be hard to feel motivated to get up on these dark mornings or brace the cold weather, but walking, cycling, gardening, aerobics, yoga/Pilates, even weight-lifting, have all been shown to help improve sleep. However, while physically demanding, housework and childcare don’t help. This may be because they involve focusing on other people and things, while the other activities all allow you to ‘let go’.

5. Try the 4-7-8 technique

Breathe in through your nose for a count of four. Hold for a count of seven. Breathe out through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat three times.
*http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk

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Did you know… Not only is lavender oil used to induce sleep but it can also be used to soothe aching muscles and joints as well as to reduce anxiety and stress.

Be sure to check out our social channels @MindfulChefUK for daily advent giveaways this December! Including a beauty sleep kit from Neals Yard!