Inside Scoop: Here’s why beauty sleep is important and how to get a good night’s rest.
This post was submitted by Heather Viera, a lifestyle expert and researcher for FamilyLivingToday.com.
Beauty is in more than the eye of the beholder. The actual health of your bod, in particular, your skin relies on you getting a full seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Sleep, or lack thereof, also affects the perception of your health and beauty. To look as healthy as you really are, you need adequate sleep. But don’t worry, we’ve got some tips to help you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.
Healing Power of Sleep
Your mind may be unconscious, but your body gets to work while you’re in dreamland. Your skin uses sleep time to heal and rejuvenate itself from daily sun damage and injury. A study funded by Estee Lauder and carried out at a medical center in Cleveland, Ohio, explored and measured what lack of sleep does to the skin. Researchers found that people who got less than the recommended eight hours of sleep showed more signs of intrinsic aging. They had more fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven pigmentation in comparison to those who’d gotten a full night’s rest.
However, there were more than just differences in appearance. The skin of good sleepers also healed better and faster from UV damage than those who hadn’t gotten enough sleep. Skin that’s not well-rested can’t heal from a day’s worth of damage.
Perception of Youth and Beauty
Here’s where we come to the old cliché of beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Without enough sleep, people are going to see an older, more tired version of you. We have the ability to perceive tiny imperceptible physical changes that come from fatigue. Most of the time, you don’t even realize that you’re picking up on these subtle physical cues like a downturn of the lips and lowered eyelids.
However, in a 2010 study, researchers explored this idea by showing people two sets of photos. One set included people who’d gotten eight hours of sleep, and another set had the same people after they’d been awake for 31 hours. The people in the well-rested photos were rated as younger, more attractive, and healthier than the sleep-deprived photos. If first, second, and third impressions matter, you need sleep to look your best.
A Healthy Body
Lack of sleep can also affect your appetite and metabolism. The body releases more of the hunger hormone ghrelin when it’s sleep-deprived. It also reduces the amount of a satiety hormone called leptin that puts a stop to eating when you’re full. You are simply more likely to overeat when you’re tired.
Your brain also changes how it works during sleep deprivation. If you haven’t gotten enough sleep, it gets more pleasure and rewards from foods loaded with fat and sugar which are the exact foods that prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep so it becomes a vicious cycle. It may believe you need the quick boost of energy that sugar provides, but it’s hard to stop when your hunger hormones are out of balance.
How to Get More of the Beauty Sleep Rest You Need
To be your best, most beautiful self, you need sleep. Thankfully, your sleep cycle is adaptive and responsive to your habits and behaviours. That gives you the power to improve both the length and depth of your sleep with sleep-supportive behaviours.
Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule
A predictable bedtime and wake-up time can work wonders for the quality of your sleep. A schedule makes sure you’ve made enough time to get a full night’s rest. However, be sure to include an extra 20 to 30 minutes for you to fall asleep, so you’re getting at least seven hours of actual shut-eye.
Over time, as you keep your beauty sleep schedule, your brain adapts your sleep cycle to follow your preferred bed and wake time. Your body is also able to more fully respond to your sleep hormones, so it’s easier to fall and stay asleep.
Build a Relaxing Routine
Let’s face it, at one time or another you’ve probably had trouble falling asleep. A bedtime routine gives your brain time to “warm-up” to bedtime. It’s really a behavioural signal to help jump-start the sleep cycle. However, it’s also a time to relieve daily tension, stress, and anxiety, which are major sleep disruptors.
Every activity in the routine should move you one step closer to sleep. It could be simple, like changing into pajamas, brushing your teeth, and reading a book for ten minutes before turning out the light.
However, some people, like those who struggle to fall asleep, may want to take a more targeted approach. Mediation, for example, helps focus the mind in the present, which reduces stress from past and present events. Over time, it can elicit the body’s relaxation response, causing the heart rate and blood pressure to drop. Yoga is another option because it relieves physical tension and has been shown to reduce stress-related inflammation. A few gentle poses next to or even in bed could be the perfect addition to a bedtime routine.
Incorporate Sleep Support into the Bedroom Design
The body needs specific conditions to stay asleep for a full seven hours. The most important of those conditions come down to three words—cool, dark, and quiet. A cool room temperature helps your body maintain the temperature fluctuations that take place throughout the sleep cycle. Light suppresses sleep hormones, which means it doesn’t belong in the bedroom at night. Block out moonlight, street light, and the light from electronic devices. In fact, it’s better to keep electronics, including your cellphone, in a different room.
Finally, noise can easily bring you out of your sleep cycle. If your neighbours like to party late or you live on a busy street, consider a white noise machine or app to drown out the distraction.
Your body uses sunlight to sync and time the sleep cycle. Sunlight gets absorbed by special photoreceptors in the eyes that send signals directly to the portion of the brain that controls the sleep cycle. Once the signal is received, sleep hormones get suppressed until light levels begin to fade.
As strange as it may seem, you need light during the day to prep for the release of sleep hormones at night. Take a walk at lunchtime or sit near a window when you get home from work. Daytime light exposure keeps you in sync with day/night patterns in your time zone.
Beauty sleep is about feeling good about yourself. It can take effort to get seven hours of high-quality sleep. Committing to it is really committing to your long-term health and wellness.
Heather Viera is a lifestyle expert and researcher for FamilyLivingToday.com. She is dedicated to achieving a balanced lifestyle, even with two small children and a full-time career. In the little free time she has, she enjoys hiking with her partner and taking her dog to the beach.