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'?
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.