[By Kaylie Tan]
It is true, good sleep habits are essential for beautiful, healthy skin. “Beauty” sleep is not just an old wives’ tale. Sleep allows the skin to restore its natural balance and increases the effectiveness of certain skin care ingredients, potentially providing more benefit to your skin. When you don’t get enough sleep, your skin will show it. Eyes look dark and puffy after even a single night of poor sleep, but chronic sleep deprivation is particularly damaging. It leads to a dull, dehydrated complexion and can wreak havoc on skin prone to acne.
Here’s how sleep affects the skin in a variety of ways:
- Lack of sleep leads to increased levels of stress hormones in the body. Chronic high levels of stress hormones in the body cause increased inflammation within the skin that subsequently leads to an acceleration of aging (wrinkles!) and worsening of acne.
- Sleep deprivation reduces the skin’s ability to stay hydrated and supple leading to a dull, dehydrated appearance.
- People with poor sleep habits can have trouble with skin sensitivity and irritation due to a reduction in the skin’s ability to protect itself from chemicals and pollutants in the environment.
In a perfect world, we would never need alarm clocks. Not only would we effortlessly conk out the moment our heads hit the pillow, our eyes would spontaneously open at the same time every day, and we would spring enthusiastically from our beds as chirping bluebirds alighted on our fingertips. As if. In reality, less than 30 percent of people in one survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported getting the rest they need every night—not that this statistic is anything to lose sleep over. Experts have a wealth of tips for the chronically fatigued. This is your wake-up call.
How to get into Sleep Mode:
- Snack yourself to sleep. Eating a small carbohydrate-heavy snack with a bit of protein one to two hours before bed will trigger your brain to produce the calming neurotransmitter serotonin, says New York City nutritionist Joy Bauer, author of Joy Bauer’s Food Cures (Rodale). Her favorite sleep inducers: a scoop of light ice cream with berries, or a rice cake with a slice of turkey or a teaspoon of peanut butter.
- Chill out (for real). Keeping your body cool at night signals it to fall into a deeper, more restful sleep. Turn down the thermostat in your room to 68 degrees for a deeper slumber.
- Ditch your beeping alarm. The loud sound that wakes you up from deep sleep is too much of a transition for the brain and body. Your brain is still moving very slowly and can’t adjust to the fast, bright waking world. It can take 30 minutes to an hour to fully clear your head. Try an alarm clock that wakes you up gradually, either with light or with gongs that start very quietly.
- Don’t light up. Keep digital clocks out of view. Lights blinking on your BlackBerry, computer, or television can also disrupt slumber. Even worse, a visible clock can be a stressful reminder of how much time you’ve spent tossing and turning, which can make it harder to sleep peacefully. So can exposure to bright light during your two-minute trip to the bathroom. Even a little light can decrease melatonin levels, making it difficult to fall back to sleep so black out before you hit the bed.
- Watch out for Sunday night insomnia. Yes, it can be caused by workweek dread. But more often it’s the result of erratic sleep behaviour on the weekends—when you’re more likely to stay out until 2 a.m. and lounge in bed past 10 the next day. The solution is to put yourself on a sleep schedule and stick to it seven days a week. It’s the single most important thing you can do to improve your energy level!