The Instagram logo

Celebrity Health – Fiona Brennan

Image of Fiona Brennan © Steve Langan @ City Head Shots

Fiona Brennan is a clinical hypnotherapist with a busy private clinic in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. She is a best-selling author and a regular guest on Newstalk's Alive and Kicking with Clare McKenna. She has also appeared on Elaine, The Pat Kenny Show and The Home Show with Sinead Ryan. Fiona's latest book is called Sleep Well: 8 Habits to Help You Get to Sleep, Stay Asleep & Wake Up Refreshed. It is based on her tried-and-tested Sleep Well formula which combines cutting-edge science with hypnotherapy.

Hello Fiona! Why do you think that so many of us struggle to sleep these days?

We all experience sleep challenges no matter what stage of life we're in. You could have a young baby, you could be perimenopausal, you could be in chronic pain, you could be worried about a loved one or you could be grieving for someone. There are always things that impinge upon our sleep at different stages. It's about being compassionate to yourself, realising that you're having a difficult time, and taking off the pressure.

On a biological level, looking at your computer or mobile phone screen before bed interrupts the body's circadian rhythm. This is why it's so important to get as much light as we can when we wake up in the morning, and to then decrease it the closer we get to bedtime. This really puts us in touch with nature.

Our minds are so busy all day long. As soon as we wake up, we're thinking about the to-do list, work, or personal issues, and then we have all of the noise from outside, the media and social media. It's a bit like a tsunami. Then, when we go to bed, there's no time for that to have been processed or digested. So, one of the key components I teach in the book is that a good night's sleep begins the moment you open your eyes. Your habits during the day are setting you up for a really good night's sleep.

How do you start your day on a healthy note?

I like to start the morning with a still mind. You're then setting yourself up to be as mindful and present as you can during the day. One of the things I do is that I practise meditation in the morning. Exercising before breakfast in the outdoors is a good thing to do as well, rather than eating straight away. This exposes you to daylight and sets the body's circadian rhythm.

During the day I'll always make time to rest. I'll have an NSDR, which is a non-sleep deep rest. This term was coined by the neuroscientist Dr Andrew Huberman and it's very close to hypnotherapy. It involves going between a wakeful state and an asleep state. You don't want to go down into a deep nap during the day, but you do want to find time to rest. And that's really powerful.

What other healthy practices do you follow?

I do a lot of yoga. There's a big correlation between yoga and sleep. In my work I help a lot of clients with different traumas and issues so, for me, practising yoga is like a cleansing process. It helps me to release whatever I need to let go of. Yoga is a big part of my life.

Generally speaking, I follow a plant-based Mediterranean diet. I don't eat much meat and I don't drink much alcohol. But I'm not perfect. I do like sweet things here and there. I take a supplement called AG1, which is a blend of vitamins, minerals and gut-friendly bacteria. I mix it with water and drink it in the morning.

What's your nighttime routine for winding down?

I always meditate before bed. I also do some gratitude journaling or I'll release any things that are niggling at me. Putting things down in writing helps to release them and not bring them into my night's sleep. I always read as well – a novel or something that's not too heavy. It used to take me 20 minutes to get to sleep but after all the research I've done on it, I'm normally fast asleep in two to three minutes.

Sleep Well: 8 Habits to Help You Get to Sleep, Stay Asleep & Wake Up Refreshed by Fiona Brennan is published by Gill Books and is out now.
Visit and follow Fiona on Instagram (@the_positive_habit_).

More celebrity health articles...
Articles from our latest issue...