What the A to Z of winter wellness is all about

When the chill factor drops our focus on good health often drifts. Not only are we more susceptible to nasty winter lurgies, but the temptation to hibernate can mean less moving and not as much focus on the right food for optimal health. In a bid to stay focused (or re-focus) this winter, we've called on the smarts of holistic health expert, Dr Libby Weaver to help compile our interactive A to Z of Winter Wellness. Each weekday we will reveal the next letter and what it stands for in our health file, plus informative graphics and recipe suggestions to help boost your health. Check in to Life & Style every afternoon for your winter wellness inspiration.
- Nicky Park, Life & Style Editor

S | Sleep by Dr Libby Weaver

There are a few things I link to amazing health. Optimal nutrition of course, fresh air, movement, love, and great sleep. In fact improving the quality of your sleep will significantly improve all aspects of your health. Sleep is often the only time our bodies are able to access a part of our nervous system responsible for rest and repair. Sleep is critical for skin regeneration, immunity, hair growth, nail growth and all other non-vital processes the body will not prioritise during the day, particularly when under constant stress. Often forgotten but crucial to deep sleep is the minimisation of caffeine. It can take the body up to 8 hours to clear caffeine - so think about how many coffees, teas, colas and/or energy drinks you consume per day.

Breath is one of the most essential factors in regulating the balance of your nervous system. Long, slow belly breathing expands the muscles in your diaphragm, stimulating the relaxation response. Try focusing on your breath anytime you feel overwhelmed. Or better still; create a regular diaphragmatic breathing ritual to help keep your responses calm. When we feel overwhelmed, planning tends to go out the window, but organisation is precisely what you need. Relaxation needs to be scheduled just like any other appointment in your diary. Set up a sleep routine and notice the difference in how rested you feel.

Dr Libby Weaver (Ph.D) is one of Australasia's leading nutrition specialists and weight loss experts based in Auckland, New Zealand. For more information visit www.drlibby.com.