It's a principle that seems so simple it can't possibly work, but our sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan says eating eight almonds and two dates when you wake up could be all it takes to help you sleep better and slim down.

Providing the right balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate when you wake in the morning, it is the perfect combination to kick-start the day - and great for those who don't have time for a sit down breakfast.

Eight almonds and two dates offer around 150-200 calories and will fire up your metabolism, stabilise your blood sugar, stop you reaching for the coffee and help your body produce vital melatonin later in the evening to help you sleep.

Dr Nerina is adamant that eating breakfast is vital - and not as hard as it sounds. She explains:  "Eight almonds and two dates is a brilliant start to the day for anyone as they wake up, but as a tiny portion that fits into the palm of your hand, it is the perfect breakfast solution for those that find it difficult to eat when they've just gotten out of bed.

"Believe it or not, eating breakfast can help you sleep. It's as simple as this; if you don't have breakfast, your body believes it is living in famine and produces stress hormones that are not conducive to restful sleep. But by eating breakfast, you're letting your body know there is enough food and you are living in safety, which in turn switches on your sleep/energy systems.

"What's more, eating breakfast can help you lose weight by speeding your metabolism up by 10 per cent.  It has a 'thermogenic' effect that can last hours after eating.  Think of it like putting fuel into a fire and getting a bigger fire."

In addition to a great breakfast, Dr Nerina has compiled some top tips to ensure you get a great night's rest:

Eat and drink to sleep

A protein-rich breakfast eaten within 30 minutes of rising will help you produce more melatonin at night so you fall asleep more easily. Eating foods such as chicken, cheese, tofu, tuna, nuts, seeds and milk will also help to boost these hormone levels. Also remember to aim to drink two litres of water every day and stay off the caffeine.

The electronic sundown

Stay off technology 60-90 minutes before you get into bed; your descent into deep sleep will be quicker and more effortless. Your bedroom needs to be a personal sanctuary. Try and switch off as soon as you leave work and never bring your work life into the bedroom.

Stop checking the time

If you're anxious about how much sleep you're getting, avoid checking the time. This will just make the anxiety worse. To sleep well we almost need to let go of wanting to sleep well. In other words, the more pressure we put on ourselves to sleep, the less likely we are to actually fall asleep. In these situations it might be helpful not to use the word 'sleep' but replace it with the word 'rest'.

Exercise

Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways of reducing stress hormone levels (mainly adrenaline) thus enabling you to sleep more deeply. This doesn't have to be a 10k run; something a simple as a 20 minute walk outdoors is enough to reduce your stress levels.

Early to bed

At least four nights a week, aim to be in bed by 10.30pm.  You don't need to be asleep but at least resting.Reading a book, or listening to calming music or meditation.
Not on your phone or laptop. Your waistline will thank you!

For more information and sleep tips check out Dr Nerina's toolkit!