Have you ever wondered where the term beauty sleep came from? We spoke with skincare specialist Anna Marie to find out why sleep really is vital to the overall health of our body, both inside and out.
Most of us don’t want to look our age. We’ll happily spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on skincare products to find youth in a bottle, while neglecting one of the most important anti-agers: sleep.
Sleep is one of life’s miracles. Something we do each day, like eating, that’s so fundamental we can easily overlook how important it is to our lives. We keep trying to squeeze more and more into our already hectic days by robbing ourselves of one of life’s greatest pleasures but also one of its greatest healers; sleep, glorious sleep.
Waking up with puffy eyes, dark circles, dull skin, splotches or rashes and not sure why? Maybe it’s not another serum you need but some good old-fashioned shuteye.
A lot happens while we sleep. Some of which we understand, but most we’re still to understand. We know that sleep is essential to our health. Every organ in our body benefits from sleep, including the skin. The skin is actually the body’s largest organ, so it’s not really surprising.
Sleeping doesn’t just keep us alive, it keeps us healthy. While we sleep our body is actually working at sorting and storing memories, healing and repairing, and even flushing out toxins from the brain.
During sleep the sympathetic nervous system gets a rest from being in fight or flight mode, growth hormones are released to support growth and repair, cytokines get active to fight inflammation and infection, and the stress hormone, cortisol, drops before rising again in the morning to give us a wakeup boost.
Even our skin benefits. It really isn’t accidental that we refer to sleep as beauty sleep. It‘s one of the most under-rated beauty secrets of models and celebrities.
A lack of sleep over the short term can make us look older. Those droopy, tired eyes are a dead giveaway, but so too is that puffiness and dark circles under the eyes. The skin may start to look dull and pale too. Those who experience skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis or eczema may find these flare up when they’re not getting enough quality sleep or are highly stressed. Unexplained rashes and other areas of irritated skin may also occur.
A lack of sleep or poor sleep over the long term results in the skin ageing faster and not recovering as well from environmental stressors, such as UV exposure and pollutants. During sleep, blood flow in the skin increases, UV damage is repaired and collagen is produced, helping to reduce pigmentation and wrinkles.
Seven to nine hours of quality sleep is recommended each night. Make sure you set up the right sleeping environment so that you achieve deep unbroken sleep, as poor sleep also can have detrimental effects.
We know that an ongoing sleep deficiency can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, lower immune function and even inflammation, which is pro-ageing. It also has been linked weight gain, poor concentration, reduced productivity, lethargy, lower exercise strength and less social capability.
To get a good night’s beauty sleep, look to ensure:
No stimulating drinks or food such as coffee, alcohol or dark chocolate at night
Destressing and winding down each day to calm the mind
No digital screens or TV one hour before bedtime
A quiet, dark room
A Goldilocks mattress that is supportive but not too hard and provides correct alignment.
A comfortable pillow
Bedclothes that are not too hot or too cold – natural fibres are best
Good sleep is vital to your physical, mental and emotional health, and the X factor you’ve been looking for to boost your skin health. Count your sheep and drift off to dreamland where extraordinary things happen to keep you healthy and give you that extra glow. Your skin will love you for it.
Footnote: Maybe don’t give up on seeing that beautiful sunrise; just don’t do it all the time!
About the Author
Anna Marie Greco writes on skincare, provides personalised skincare consultations and runs specialist skincare retailer Skin Clinica.