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‘Help me sort my 3am wake-ups!’

Our experts help Vanessa Powell, 47, from Surrey, beat her early-morning sleep struggles

‘I go to bed at 11pm but always wake at 3am, then lie there with my mind racing for about three hours. When I do drift off, it seems only minutes later when I hear my alarm go off at 6.30am. I get to work feeling (and looking) tired. It’s been the same for several weeks, and there’s no particular trigger. I’ve tried warm baths before bed, avoiding caffeine and drinking less alcohol. I’ve taken up an exercise regime, as I thought it might help, but nothing works. What else can I do?’

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    The psychologist

    Dr Neil Stanley, independent sleep expert, says: ‘If it’s been 20 minutes or more since you woke up, leave your bed. There’s no point tossing and turning, as you’ll just get more frustrated. Go into another room and read a book, listen to the radio or make a hot drink (no caffeine!). When you start to feel more relaxed, go back to bed and try to think of something distracting but of no importance. For example, imagine a room you’d like to decorate – what colour would you paint it, how would you furnish it? This should allow you to relax into sleep.’

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    The pharmacist

    Meera Joshi, Boots pharmacist, says: The amount of sleep you need is personal. We need less as we get older, so you might be trying to get too much (most adults need 6-9 hours every night). By working out when you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule. Keeping a sleep diary can help you find your ideal slumber pattern. If lack of shut-eye is persistent and affecting daily life, see your GP.’

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    The make-up artist

    Lisa Andrae, No7 business manager (Watford), says: ‘Lack of sleep saps the skin’s moisture levels, so your complexion can look dull and dry after a restless night. Use a hydrating night cream before bed – look for one that contains cocoa butter or hyaluronic acid, as both are super-moisturising. To help combat puffiness and dark under-eye circles – often made worse by lack of sleep – sweep on an overnight eye cream to the outer corner of each eye. And in the morning, use a radiance-boosting primer under your foundation so that your base looks fresh. Opt for one that has a pink tinge to counteract sallowness, and pearlescent, light-reflecting pigments to cheat a well-rested glow.’

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Compiled by Charlotte Grant-West Photography Helen Marsden Still-life photography Pixeleyes Styling Angela Barnard Hair and make-up Liz Kitchiner 

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