Why you need beauty sleep
Sleep is a deeply restorative function, during which the different organs and systems within the body repair and heal it.
According to Dr. Frank Lipman, a good friend of the very health-conscious Gwenyth Paltrow, sleep “is a master regulator of health. A sleep deficit or disruption can create wide-ranging havoc, compromising our immune system, causing inflammation, and damaging our genes. Losing just an hour of sleep a night increases risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes.”
Beauty-wise, lack of sleep can actually age you. While you sleep, the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of your skin, repairs itself from the damage of daily pollutants and aging factors like the sun’s rays and environmental pollutants. This layer helps to lock moisture in and prevents germs from migrating into your skin. Skimping on sleep actually decreases the time the stratum corneum (aka your skin barrier) has to repair itself and lock in moisture. The less time your skin has to recouperate, the more dehydrated your skin becomes, and, over time can become saggy and prone to wrinkling.
Additionally, lack of sleep can lead to permanent dark circles, puffy eyes, droopy skin and even worse, loss of collagen. Prolonged sleep debt causes the body to release the stress hormone cortisol, which, in excess amounts, can break down collagen resulting in a loss of skin elasticity. Lack of sleep also results in the body releasing too little human growth hormone, the hormone responsible for tissue repair, bone strength and skin strength. Sleep too little, and you disrupt the body’s natural healing cycle, which can lead to premature aging.
7 Ways to Wind Down
If you’re tossing and turning at night, and not clocking 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night, try these tips from Lipman.
1. Create an Electronic Sundown
By 10 p.m., stop sitting in front of your computer or TV screen and switch off all other electronic devices. They are too stimulating to the brain and inhibit the release of sleep neurotransmitters.
2. Prepare for Sleep
Dim the lights an hour or more before going to bed, take a warm bath, and listen to calming music or soothing sounds.
3. Practice a Relaxation Technique
Many people tell me they can’t switch off their racing minds and therefore have trouble sleeping. Do some breathing exercises, restorative yoga or meditation to shift your brain into a more relaxed, receptive mode.
4. Create a Regular Routine
Going to bed around the same time, even on weekends, is the most important thing you can do to establish good sleep habits. The body clock’s ability to regulate healthy sleep patterns depends on consistency.
5. Keep the Room as Dark as Possible
Our bodies need complete darkness for production of the important sleep hormone melatonin. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your pineal gland’s production of sleep hormones. Cover all the lights of any electronic device — alarm clocks, computers, charging indicators on cell phones, etc. — and use dark shades to cover the windows.
6. Keep the Room Cool
Lowering ambient temperature sends a feedback signal to the brain’s sleep center that it’s nighttime, and that it needs to release more sleep hormones. A sleeping temperature of 60 to 65 degrees F is best for most people, even in the winter.
7. Block Out Noise
If noise from the street, an upstairs neighbor, pets or a snoring bed partner is a problem, try using earplugs, an electronic device that makes “white noise” or a fan to drown out the sound.