BEAUTY SLEEP Ex­pert tips for rest­ful sleep and glow­ing skin.

We know that a good night's rest is es­sen­tial for our men­tal and phys­i­cal well­be­ing, but is there re­ally such a thing as 'beauty sleep'?

In the Moment - - Contents - Words: Melissa Kim­bell

With one third of Bri­tons now av­er­ag­ing just ve hours sleep each night, it’s no won­der that sleep is al­ways on our mind th­ese days. From ex­hausted mums com­par­ing bed­time bat­tle sto­ries, to those whose minds race when they hit the pil­low, good sleep is the one gift that ev­ery­one wants.

It’s well known that poor sleep has nu­mer­ous neg­a­tive e ects on the body. Th­ese can in­clude headaches, drowsi­ness, low­ered im­mu­nity and ir­ri­tabil­ity, and a lack of good qual­ity sleep can also speed up the age­ing process. “The body goes through ve dis­tinct sleep stages, from light to deep sleep, and then nally dream sleep,” ex­plains in­som­nia spe­cial­ist, Kathryn Pinkham (thein­som­ni­a­clinic.co.uk). “A com­bi­na­tion of all of th­ese stages in se­quence, re­peated sev­eral times dur­ing the night, is re­quired for a good night’s sleep. The age­ing process can ac­cel­er­ate when this se­quence is in­ter­rupted, es­pe­cially dur­ing the later stages when the body is heal­ing it­self,” she adds.

The dream sleep stage is when all the beauty magic hap­pens – dur­ing this stage, the body has a surge of Hu­man Growth Hor­mone (HGH). HGH helps re­build and re­pair body tis­sue, as well as in­crease cell pro­duc­tion. This cel­lu­lar re­gen­er­a­tion cy­cle takes on av­er­age 28 days, peak­ing each night at 2am, and is said to be the key to glow­ing skin. Old cells tend to be rough and de­hy­drated, caus­ing the skin to look crinkly, but th­ese new cells will al­ways look more ra­di­ant, smooth and plump – some­thing that many of us search for in our beauty shop­ping trips.

A poor night’s sleep also causes the body to pro­duce higher lev­els of cor­ti­sol (a stress hor­mone), which can a ect your skin. Stud­ies sug­gest that high lev­els of cor­ti­sol cause in­flam­ma­tion in the body and de­crease the pro­duc­tion of col­la­gen, which is what makes young skin bouncy and plump.

“Col­la­gen is a pro­tein that makes up ap­prox­i­mately 75 to 80 per­cent of the der­mis [the in­ner layer of the two main lay­ers of cells that make up our skin],” says Dr Prerna Mit­tall (in­spire­me­clinic.co.uk). “Our skin looks younger when col­la­gen is suf­fi­ciently topped up.” When col­la­gen breaks down, skin starts to sag and lose its sup­ple­ness. This oc­curs grad­u­ally as skin ages, so it can’t be com­pletely avoided, but there are a few things that will speed up this process – fre­quent poor sleep qual­ity is one of them.

So, how can we im­prove the qual­ity of our sleep? If you have no trou­ble fall­ing asleep then sim­ple so­lu­tions, such as set­ting a bed­time and switch­ing o from screens an hour be­fore bed, can make a huge di er­ence. But if you can’t drift o ? Kathryn ad­vises a struc­tured rou­tine to help boost our ‘sleep drive’ – our ap­petite for sleep – be­cause when it comes to sleep, it’s qual­ity over quan­tity.

Rather than aim­ing for the eight-hour gold stan­dard, and spend­ing half of that time toss­ing and turn­ing, Kathryn sug­gests that it’s all about bal­anc­ing our sleep drive and our ‘sleep win­dow’. “Use a diary to keep track of how much good qual­ity sleep you are ac­tu­ally get­ting. This num­ber is your sleep win­dow,” she ex­plains. “For ex­am­ple, if you can get six hours of un­bro­ken sleep, then your sleep win­dow should be around six hours – 12am-6am, for in­stance. This means that from 6am-mid­night the fol­low­ing day, you are awake and build­ing a strong, healthy sleep drive.

Stick with this rou­tine seven days a week.” By cre­at­ing a solid rou­tine, your body will learn when to be asleep and when to be awake, which will then help you to set­tle into snooze­mode more quickly and eas­ily.

Some­times, how­ever, get­ting more qual­ity sleep sim­ply isn’t pos­si­ble. Whether it’s night­time breast­feed­ing, work­ing a night shift or a big night out that’s cut­ting into your beauty sleep, thank­fully the right skin­care tech­niques can help to main­tain a healthy glow what­ever life throws your way. Read on for beauty ex­pert Melissa’s top rec­om­men­da­tions...

Clock­wise from top: our sleep can be af­fected by tech­nol­ogy; keep­ing a sleep jour­nal can help to es­tab­lish a bet­ter rou­tine; good qual­ity sleep helps to keep skin sup­ple.

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