She survived on 4 hours’ sleep as a ‘90s supermodel, but these days our columnist a pro at restorative slumber. From a pre-bed sauna to her bedside white noise machine, here are her tips for maximising your beauty sleep

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Until recently, I never really paid much attention to the accepted view that eight hours’ sleep are necessary each night. Instead, I lived proudly and happily on four or five hours a night, especially during my modelling days in the 1990s.

Back then, I was on the road so much I didn’t know if I was coming or going but I always managed to power through. There were times when I got to bed as the sun was rising after a night out. Feeling anxious about having so little sleep, knowing I had to be up and ‘together’ in an hour or two for work, was not as glamorous as you might imagine, believe me, but I managed this for years. I would very much depend on caffeine to jolt me awake for the day ahead.

As I get older (I’m 60 in March) my sleep has changed, much like many women after mid-life. I remember those night sweats and restlessness! I also remember sleep improving greatly after the boys left home and I wasn’t listening for the car to pull in on a Friday or Saturday night after they’ve been out.

Here are my four tips for a great night’s sleep.

Careful of the caffeine (sorry!)

I don’t drink coffee anymore, preferring a gentle yet powerful awakening with a steaming hot matcha latte made with oat milk (Elmhurst Barista is my go-to). If I’ve been travelling or working late, I don’t wake up groggy anymore unless my diet has been messy, so the need for a fast fix isn’t as prevalent as it used to be back then.

Aim for 8 hours (my magic number)

These days, I value sleep and make a conscious effort to be sure I get a quality eight hours. Having said that, my emphasis is on the quality of the sleep, not the quantity.

I consider sleep to be the primary wellness mechanism responsible for you feeling and looking your best. It’s like a full body reset with so many invaluable benefits: good sleep supports weight, emotional well-being, blood pressure, mental and physical performance, your immune system and more. WelleCo formulator and my long-time friend Dr Simoné Laubscher PhD puts it beautifully: “Every day, we build up and carry a toxic load and sleep is key to allow our nervous system to rest and detoxify.”

She likes to remind me of an interesting study by Prather in NCBI 2015, which revealed that adults who regularly slept less than six hours per night were almost five times more likely to get a cold than those who slept for more than seven hours a night. Dr Laubscher believes five hours’ sleep is the tipping point for poor health and swears by seven to nine hours, particularly for a healthy immune system.

Rest with intention

I absolutely love bedtime, which is nice as I never used to! I was always so excited about the day to come that I just wanted to keep going. I now see what a huge difference sleep makes in everything I do – from the alive, inspired feeling I wake up with to my capacity to hit the ground running and intermittent fast the next morning (I put this down to my body no longer crying out for calories). A good sleep ensures I can enjoy my day, think straight and feel my best.

Living with a musician has changed my sleeping hours so no matter how late we go to bed (often 2am or 3am after gigs) we don’t have an alarm set until ten hours after we go to sleep. This gives us plenty of time to fall asleep and recuperate. My partner is an expert sleep master having been on the road for most of his life. He has fully mastered the art of going to bed late and waking late in the morning. I don’t make appointments for myself before 11am when travelling and that’s a wise choice!

I am absolutely someone who goes hell for leather until bed. I don’t often get cranky at the end of day unless I haven’t eaten. I’m definitely more of a homebody come evening. I love cosy, low-key nights, preferring to eat at home, chat, play music, steam, plunge, laugh!

Commit to a self-loving evening routine

I like to eat around 5pm so the body isn’t digesting food just before bed. I’ve found I don’t sleep my best on a full stomach. Often, I’m out until later in the day so by the time I’m home, I’m ready to start winding down with an infrared sauna; Theresage is my longtime favourite and I like to do an hour if I can at about 170 degrees and a cold plunge for about five minutes in the plunge bath.

I’ll make a warm drink before bed - our newly launched WelleCo delight, The Evening Elixir, a health and beauty enhancing hot chocolate, is my preferred luxury. I like to read at night or watch the stars, preferring to minimise screen time so as not to disrupt the circadian rhythm with blue light. I intentionally don’t have a television in my room but I’ll sometimes wear blue blocker glasses if I must be on my phone post-sunset.

When not on the road, I aim to be asleep by 11 or midnight. I find it easiest to fall asleep after a good laugh, which always seems to happen just as I’m about to drop off.

I dream big and wild knowing that my body is repairing, regenerating and maybe even downloading healing and wisdoms from the universe! I sleep with a grateful heart every night knowing my body is healing and I always look forward to the next day.

Elle’s evening edit

On my bedside table

Not on my bedside table

  • My phone. I make a point to never charge tech beside my bed
  • Pharmaceutical sleep aids
  • An Oura Ring, from $299. I used to love mine until one day Doyle said, “So you need a ring to tell you how you slept?” That rang true and since that day I decided to check in with myself about how well I sleep

My bedroom essentials for good sleep

  • Blackout blinds
  • Cotton or linen sheets, heavy blankets or comforters, down pillows

WelleCo’s new The Evening Elixir £35 supports beauty while you sleep