Shakespeare wrote that sleep “knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care.” Getting a good night’s sleep may be even more difficult today than in The Bard’s time. A primary cause for our sleep-deprived lifestyle is exposure to the blue light from the screens from our electronic devices. Artificial light can prevent the pineal gland from releasing melatonin, the natural brain-chemical that invites sleepiness as dusk falls. This is the circadian rhythm, which has shaped human metabolism for millennia—until now.
Everyone knows how occasional sleep deprivation feels. The causes differ from temporary sleep deprivation from a new baby, a great party, traveling, or work to long-term sleep deprivation from chronic sleep loss or insomnia. Regardless of the cause, sleep deprivation can make simple decision-making more difficult, erode short-term memory, decrease physical coordination and agility, compromise the immune system, make us feel more emotionally fragile and volatile and can even result in the swelling of our waistline.
Skin Never Sleeps
Our skin is the first line of defense between internal tissues and organs and a big, bad world chock-full of pathogens and other dangers. Skin tirelessly fights back day after day against free radicals generated by UV, stress, processed foods, cigarette smoke and other environmental toxins. Just another reason why a quality mineral based SPF and topical antioxidant application, specifically Vitamin C, are as essential to skin stamina, just as that first coffee may be to getting the morning started.
Nighttime Body and Skin
When your head hits the pillow, ideally your blood-pressure gently lowers, allowing you to drift into pleasant sleepiness, deep rest and finally the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle. Breathing slows and deepens. While we are not literally immobile during sleep, the muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments do relax.
All of these changes allow the body, including the skin, to repair and replenish after the stresses of the day. In fact, cell regeneration doubles at night. Getting adequate sleep enables our body to heal and regenerate… tissue repair, hormone release and relaxation are critical to our health. In our skin specifically, during sleep, there is an increase in cell turnover and protein assembly resulting in repair and the production of collagen due to increased fibroblast activity…our anti-aging BFF skin cells!
Because of this increase in reparative processes during sleep, it is so important to cleanse our skin thoroughly before bed. This routine should include a pre-cleanse step to dissolve skin adhering to SPF and cosmetics. Using products specialized overnight products, with enhanced active/corrective ingredients like those with microencapsulated retinol and the new wave of peptides to provide the skin the necessary nutrition to work on our behalf. Cleansed, resting skin is more readily available to absorb these work-horse ingredients.
The quantity of sleep has a direct effect on the skin and the appearance of aging, specifically poor sleepers have more signs of skin aging. Here are a few examples:
Dark shadows and puffiness
These are a sign of poor circulation and sluggish elimination. Consider that some people of Middle Eastern decent may have persistent bruise-like coloring as a genetic trait due to the orbit bone structure. Stomach and side sleeping are often the culprits of slower circulation. Sleeping on your back is recommended, keeping your head raised just above your body.
Sallow, lackluster, dehydrated skin
This is a sign of poor circulation, which means fewer nutrients are getting to cells. The barrier function is also affected and subsequently TEWL(Trans Epidermal Water Loss…which results in dehydration of the skin) is greater in poor sleepers. Stomach sleepers get a double whammy when sleeping on fabrics, such as flannel during winter months, further increasing TEWL due to the fabrics wicking moisture out of the skin.
Skin infections and cold sores
Sleep deprivation impairs the immune system, meaning fewer cytokines, a type of skin cell, to combat bacteria and viruses. Pimples and cuts will also be slower to heal.
5 Tips for Better Sleep
Below are five tips to promote restful sleep and glowing skin:
- Develop a routine and go to bed at the same time every night. Our bodies love repetition.
- Work-out early and midday or dusk is ideal. Big cardio after dark revs up the metabolism and makes sleep elusive.
- Stop caffeine mid-day and no sugary treats after 7 p.m.
- Eat dinner earlier, at dusk is ideal. A light dinner also requires less digestion, thus making sleep easier.
- Take an aromatherapy-infused bath, then go to bed. Also, turn the computer off and the TV should never in the bedroom. Turning out lights progressively throughout the evening may help to invite deep peaceful sleep.