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Shut eye Why I'm backing the new 'Festival of Sleep Day'

A sleep revolution? Why advice shows us it’s important to get more of that sweet shut-eye

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Mariah Carey regularly packs in a 15-hour night surrounded by the hum of humidifiers

Mariah Carey regularly packs in a 15-hour night surrounded by the hum of humidifiers

Mariah Carey regularly packs in a 15-hour night surrounded by the hum of humidifiers

Welcome to Festival of Sleep Day when it's almost a duty to climb into your PJs, pull up the duvet and stay there until boredom or hunger tell you to move.

As international festivals go, it's a recent arrival and largely made up but so is Christmas and we take that very seriously.

Let's just say I wouldn't take bets on the actual Jesus' birthday making him a Capricorn.

To be honest, most days for me are a festival of sleep. A good day will have an afternoon snooze, a pre-bedtime nap and a solid seven hours of quality kipping.

Work tends to get in the way of the afternoon nap. It's not a good look on an enthusiastic employee, unless you're Spanish when the siesta is a badge of national pride. I blame the weather. We can't argue the need for escaping the heat of the midday sun.

Sleep habits are as individual as we are and the more famous ones make my need for napping seem positively normal.

Mariah Carey regularly packs in a 15-hour night surrounded by the hum of humidifiers, which she believes is the key to her voice.

Bill Gates sleeps for precisely seven hours. Stephen King has a thing about the open end of the pillowcase pointing outwards.

Eminem must have total darkness and silence, which is surely where normality sleeps. Anyone who can do lights or TV just hasn't got the hang of it.

Somewhere along the line, sleep became a luxury indulged in only by the work-shy. It's a 1980s Gordon Gekko approach that if you're not working, striving and saving up some stress for a heart attack you're not succeeding.

It's come gradually back into fashion, with the help of the medical profession which can list a terrifying array of awful side effects from not getting to bed on time.

Diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain and an increased risk of accidents are all scientifically proven consequences of neglecting your night-time goodness.

I find tetchiness and tearfulness are the giveaway symptoms that some Vitamin Kip should be prescribed.

I did several years of menopausal mayhem until night sweats and months of broken sleep drove me into the arms of HRT like a woman lost in the desert of hair-trigger emotional outbursts and tearing up at an Andrex toilet roll advert.

Back in the mists of babies, sleep was the biggest bone of domestic contention. In the Sleep Olympics I could sense when my husband had enjoyed more glorious rest than me by a hundredth of a second.

The need for a proper rest at night was made sexy again by writers like Arianna Huffington whose book, The Sleep Revolution, allowed working people to ditch their inner sleep-deprived Margaret Thatcher (her four hours a night explained a lot) and get out the scented candles and a silk pillowcase.

She advocates no tech in the bedroom, and a morning ritual of breathing deeply, setting an intention for the day and 30 minutes of meditation. I'm guessing the Huffington household doesn't have kids who need to be nagged out of bed, gym gear to find or a commute to navigate but we get the picture.

According to the experts the optimum sleeping conditions are a cool room in darkness without noise or gadgets, and a routine. My trick for a busy bedtime mind is to imagine swimming in a blue lagoon. If I'm attacked by an imaginary shark it's a sign I need to work on my stress levels.

Happy Festival of Sleep.

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