Getting your Beauty Sleep
We’ve all heard about getting your beauty sleep and it’s true. We know how our skin looks when we haven’t been sleeping well. Tired looking luster-less skin and dark circles under ours eyes. If your up out hitting in town and racking up the late nights you will certainly look worse for the wear.
While we sleep our skin and our whole body is repairing itself. It’s also a time when hormonal and metabolic changes occur. Lack of sleep disturbs these processes. Stress hormones are increased which in turn increases inflammation of the skin. This accelerates the aging process and worsens skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis.
Besides the effects on our skin the effects on our body can be more serious. Some of the effects of not getting enough sleep are:
*Impedes the ability of the brain to function properly. While we sleep our brains rest busy neurons and form new pathways for the day ahead. Lack of ability to concentrate, short and long term memory loss, short temper and mood swings are all some of the responses to the brain’s lack of sleep.
*Worsens symptoms of depression or anxiety.
*Weakens the immune system. Lack of sleep makes it harder for your body to fight off invaders making you more susceptible to the common cold and the flu. Long term sleep deprivation can lead to developing serious illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
*Can cause weight gain by increasing the stress hormone cortisol. Lack of sleep also lowers your levels of the hormone leptin, which tells your brain you’ve had enough to eat. Studies have linked not getting enough sleep to excessive and late night snacking.
So how many hours of sleep do you really need? The amount largely depends on your age. The National Sleep Foundation recommends:
School age children (6-13yrs) 9-11 hours
Teenagers 8-10 hours
Young Adults (18-25yrs) 7-9 hours
Adults (26-64yrs) 7-9 hours
65+years 7-8 hours
Tips for Improving Your Sleep:
1. Exercise Daily. Even if you don’t have time to exercise every day, a walk or jog around the block in fresh air does wonders for your sleep. This is a favorite of mine since I can go for a walk wherever I happen to be.
2. Turn off all electronic devises at least one hour before sleeping. This one is SO important. The bright lights of your cell phone, computer or TV stimulates your brain, making it hard to fall asleep. Learn to unwind and unplug your brain from the days worries. Have a routine activity every evening. Reading, listening to calming music, taking a warm bath or shower, or 15 minutes of mediation all help you to relax.
3. Stick to a sleep schedule. Try to go to sleep around the same time every night.
4. Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime.
5. Limit alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol may make you sleepy at first but it makes for poor sleep as it disrupts REM sleep, which is the deep restorative sleep that we all need. If you rely on alcohol to fall asleep, you’ll wake up multiple times during the night and have a greater risk to sleepwalk, sleep talk and have problems with memory.
6. Avoid heavy meals and spicy foods before bedtime. They stimulate the production of acid in your stomach. which can cause indigestion and acid reflux. Instead enjoy cup of herbal tea such as valerian, or a warm glass of milk. If you are hungry fruits are a good late night snack. Two that are especially good are bananas and cherries. Bananas contain the natural muscle-relaxants magnesium and potassium. Cherries contain melatonin which is the chemical that helps control our body’s internal clock.
7. Try not to take naps. If you do limit it to no more than 15-20 minutes.
8. Make your bedroom a peaceful retreat. Keep it uncluttered and serene. Adjust your room temperature to one that is comfortable for you and make sure that you have a comfortable pillow and bedding. If you are bothered by noises such as traffic or you have the opposite problem and need some noise to sleep, try a white noise machine which emits a purring/whirring type sound.
(Photo cred: 1. Me for Chloe 2. Erin Heatherton by Steve Hiett. 3. Shalom Harlow by Ellen von Unwerth)