Beauty Sleep: Why It's Important & How to Get More
We’ve all heard that sleep is important to our health, but did you know it is as important as eating healthy and regular exercise? Lack of a good night’s sleep takes its toll on our bodies and our looks.
Lack of Sleep, and the Effects on the Body
Sleep impacts almost every part of our body and health. Here are a few of the top issues sleep deprivation causes:
- Reduces cognitive thinking - Alertness, attention, concentration and problem solving are all reduced.
- Makes you forgetful – Lack of paying attention during key activities in your day impacts how well you make memories and what you later recall.
- Increases moodiness – Sleep and your mood are closely connected. A lack of sleep can make you irritable and even lead to depression.
- Increases your chances of getting a disease – Studies show that people who routinely lack sleep, have a weakened immune system and are more at-risk to develop heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Lowers your libido and interest in sex – A recent study showed that getting a good night’s sleep can increase the likelihood that you will have sex by 14%.
- Risk of gaining weight – Lack of sleep can make you crave sugary foods and slow your metabolism. Experts believe that sleep deprivation reduces leptin (a hormone that makes you feel full) and increases ghrelin (a hormone that stimulates hunger).
- Balance and coordination to be off – When your brain isn’t functioning well, your balance and coordination can be impacted, thus increasing the likelihood of accidents.
Lack of Sleep, and the Effect on Your Beauty
While you sleep, the cells in your body and skin rejuvenate. Since your skin is visible, it is often the first place you can notice your lack of sleep. Here are a few ways those effects show up:
- Skin becomes dehydrated and unbalanced – Lack of sleep can decrease the moisture levels in your skin, which then lowers your skin’s pH level. The combination of these means dull, dry and uneven skin that is prone to redness and breakouts.
- You develop dark circles under your eyes – Without sleep, blood vessels dilate, causing dark circles.
- Your skin is more likely to show signs of aging – A study by the British Association of Dermatologists showed that a continual lack of sleep is associated with increased signs of aging in the skin; it also showed a decrease in skin’s barrier function (used to keep moisture in and irritants out).
How Much Sleep if the Right Amount?
Each person varies in the amount of sleep he/she needs; most people need around 8 hours each night. A study convened by the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults age 26 to 64 get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, and age 65+ should get 7 to 8 hours a night. Dropping to 5 hours or less puts you at danger for the negative effects listed above.
If your sleep patterns are off and need to be adjusted, it is best to think through your nightly routine and make adjustments to enable a better night’s sleep. Creating a successful and repeatable routine is the best way to get on track. If you had a bad night’s sleep, you can try to “catch up” with a nap; but if you do not sleep well on a consistent basis, you need to establish a regular routine for a long-term solution.
How to Sleep Well
There is a lot of advice out there on how to get a good night’s sleep. Waking up every night at three am is no good, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the top practices that most experts agree on:
- Create the right environment – Make sure your bedroom is your sleeping sanctuary. Clean out any clutter, wash and make your bed, and (if needed) invest in new sheets, comforter and a supportive pillow. Make sure windows are covered so you can sleep in a dark space. Keep the temperature between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Maintain a regular schedule – Your body will sleep better if it’s on a schedule and you are in sync with your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle (known as the circadian rhythm). Go to bed at the same time every night, and try to wake at the same time. To avoid tossing and turning, pick a bedtime when you think you will feel tired.
- Avoid napping or falling asleep on the couch in the early evening –This can throw your regular sleep schedule off. If you are tired in the evening, get up and do something to stimulate yourself.
- Limit electronics before bed – It is best to do this 1 to 2 hours before bed; the light created by these devices tricks the mind into believing it is daylight, which can stimulate your body.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol – Best to do a few hours before bedtime; people who are very sensitive to caffeine may need to limit it earlier in the afternoon. Also, don’t rely on energy drinks or caffeine pills as a short-term pick me up, they can disrupt your sleep later. While alcohol is a depressant, it is a REM sleep inhibitor and too much before bed can cause you to wake during the night. For those who suffer from sleep apnea, alcohol also relaxes muscles in your throat and makes it even more difficult to breathe.
- Avoid big meals right before bed – Digesting a big meal means your body must work harder to relax.
- Don’t exercise too close to bedtime – Yes, you should exercise; fitness will help your overall health, and it will help you sleep. But exercising too close to bedtime will stimulate your body, making it hard to relax.
- Practice light meditation and/or yoga stretches right before bed – Meditating and stretching can help your body relax and allow your mind to become “quiet," making it easier to get to sleep. There are many stretches that can be done while you lay in bed.
- Visit your doctor – If you have sleep issues, it is very important to discuss them with your doctor; he/she may suggest a formal sleep test.