Our bodies are precious gifts, designed to restore themselves naturally: purging toxins, replacing dead cells with new ones, fighting infections…the list goes on. Importantly, it's when you are sound asleep that the body does this amazing *magic* most effectively. Most adults need seven to eight hours of relatively uninterrupted rest to achieve restorative sleep, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A lack of quality rest can impede natural healing processes, unbalance hormonal regulation and appetite, thereby affecting the health of your skin, mindset, and everything else.
What’s Happening Internally When You Sleep:
When we sleep, our bodies produce collagen, increase blood flow to the skin, repairs/builds muscle, and lowers cortisol levels.
Collagen is key for helping your skin retain its elasticity and volume.
When collagen starts to break down, we start to see more fine lines and wrinkles in the skin, and the pores can begin to look larger due to the reduced volume of the underlying tissue. It's when we are asleep that collagen can repair itself as inflammation and stress is purged from the skin.
Increased blood flow delivers nutrients our skin needs in order to recover from daily exposure to outside irritants (air toxins, UV damage, etc).
Without adequate nutritional support, it is much harder for our skin to repair the micro-damage it endures throughout each day, and cumulative damage is likely to build up, manifesting as deep wrinkles, discoloration, etc.
Muscle is what gives shape (to face and body) and works against gravity.
Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body, it requires the proper nutrients and sound sleep to repair and grow, but in return it can help uplift what would otherwise sag, and fill in what would otherwise fold and wrinkle.
Reducing cortisol (stress hormone) during a good night of rest is key for keeping your mind and body healthy.
It has been shown that sleep deprivation and/or chronic stress create a sustained, elevated cortisol level, which in turn can lead to a host of problems. Anxiety, depression, digestive issues, a weakened immune system, overproduction of testosterone, weight gain, inflammation, and more are all potential effects.
More specifically for your skin, the impact of high stress/cortisol could include:
-over-production of oil
Recommendations for getting better sleep:
- Avoid caffeine (all stimulants) 6 hours before bed. It is key to understand that stimulants don’t reduce your need for sleep, they mask it.
- Avoid unnatural light for as long as possible prior to bedtime. The bright whites and blues of computers and phones are the worst offenders, but any artificial light (not a campfire or candle) will have some negative effect on our production of hormones, most notably melatonin, which signals us to feel sleepy. Rather than using a bright panel of overhead lighting in the evening, I recommend buying a salt lamp or using a smaller source of light before bed, such as a bedside lamp. Try using a sleep mask to block out all blue and unnatural light from your brain.
- Create a schedule for wake up time and bedtime. Try to have a cutoff time of when you turn off all electronic devices in the home as well.
- Exercise during the day. The list of benefits to be gained is long, but to sum it up, exercise helps you fall asleep and stay asleep when done regularly with moderate intensity.
- Do a bedtime ritual with lavender. Lavender is known for its calming properties. Try blending it with a carrier oil (like jojoba or argan oil) and massaging it into the neck, chest and arms before bed. You can also buy an aromatherapy diffuser so you receive the inhalation benefits as well.
- Drink "sleepy" herbs before bed; look into finding teas with valerian root, passionflower or chamomile.