SLEEP is an important part of everyone’s day – it is vital for optimum health and well-being.

Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.

The amount of sleep we need depends upon our age. The NHS says babies sleep up to 17 hours a day, while older children need nine to 10 hours per day. This reduces to about eight hours for an adult while older people need the same but will often only get one period of deep sleep during the night – usually the first three to four hours.

Many of us do not get enough sleep and physiologist and sleep therapist Dr Nerina Ramlakham believes sleep problems aren’t created when your head hits the pillow, but that everything you do during the day - every thought, behaviour and choice you make - impacts on how you sleep at night.

She is giving her top tips on how to finally banish those sleepless nights.

1. Stop being so hard on yourself. Never feeling like what you’re doing is good enough is a common trait of perfectionism and perfectionists often have trouble sleeping. The work lies in learning how to be kind to and value yourself. It’s about accepting yourself and accepting rest. Learn how to relax and breathe deeply and practice it regularly throughout the day.

2. Allow yourself to feel. One of the most common sleep problems is waking up in the early hours between 2am and 4am. Often this can be caused by unresolved or unacknowledged worries. The healthiest strategy for sleeping well is to allow yourself to feel when you need to in a constructive way. The key message here is - let it out don’t hold it in.

3. Get some support. We all need our support strategies to help us deal with stress. Who and what is supporting you? It might be your pet, your gardening, baking or practising meditation. It might be a friend or even a counsellor. Make sure you have good support so you don’t take your problems to bed with you.

4. Nourish your spirit - love more, hug more, play more. Hugging, laughing and having fun are not only good for your mind but they actually heal the body by enabling you to produce hormones to make you feel good. Oxytocin, known as the trust hormone, is produced when you hug people you love. Oxytocin makes you feel good which in turn helps you to produce melatonin at night - so you sleep.

5. Be grateful. Acknowledge there are many good things in life. Think about the day you’ve had so far and all the tiny positive things that have happened. It might be as simple as enjoying a nice cup of tea, someone who smiled at you in the supermarket or a kind message from a friend. Be grateful for each little thing and say thank you in your mind. Doing this regularly will create a sense of peace, contentment and relaxation in the body.