Despite our best efforts, many of us are guilty of neglecting our sleep. Often because we don’t fully understand its importance, combined with a multitude of other distractions. From work stress and socialising to late night Instagram scrolling.
Benefits of beauty sleep
But is it so important anyway? After all, some of the most successful people in the world claim to thrive off three or four hours sleep a night. Is this realistic or sustainable? Getting enough sleep is not only important if you want to stay young, but it is also key to strong immunity and adequate recovery.
Your body is not the only thing that is affected by sleep. Our brain and emotions are highly sensitive to not only the quantity but the quality of our sleep. Research shows that without enough sleep, our moods, cognition and behaviour are diminished.
Sleep and skin health
There’s a reason it’s called beauty sleep. Good sleep is crucial to skin health. It’s not surprising, given that you can often tell if someone has had a bad night’s sleep just by looking at them. From puffy eyes and dark circles to paler skin and even fine lines – lack of sleep can impact our skin in a multitude of ways.
The reasons for this is that sleep is when the body repairs itself. With increased blood flow and collagen production, a good sleep will leave your skin healthy and glowing. Just make sure that you cleanse your face before going to sleep and apply a moisturiser or serum. Skin can become dehydrated overnight, so these steps will help it stay hydrated.
Understanding our sleep cycles
The reality is that the quality of sleep is much more important than the quantity. In order to get truly restorative sleep we must go to bed early in the night – this is when the most slow-wave deep sleep is available. During the first part of our sleep cycle is also when we secrete the most amount of growth hormone (growth hormone = youth hormone = young and beautiful forever… maybe).
To get adequate growth hormone, it is vital to get to bed by 10pm and sleep deeply between 12-2am as this is when the most growth hormone is secreted. Also, staying asleep between 2am-4am will supply you with further growth hormone for repairing the brain.
Sleep cycles go in 2.5 hour cycles, so 5 hours of sleep should be a minimum. However, for many this is not enough to obtain enough growth hormone, as we get more released in the third sleep cycle. The last stage of sleep is what we call rapid eye movement (REM) or “dream” sleep. REM sleep is important for the development and health of the brain. Hence the suggestion to get at least 8 hours of sleep nightly – equating to a minimum three cycles of sleep.
Cortisol and melatonin
In order to sleep well, we need low cortisol and high melatonin. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is secreted during the first portion of our day. It wakes us up and puts our bodies in a state for work and action. However, cortisol suppresses melatonin, which is necessary for sleep and is one of the most potent antioxidants in the body.
Melatonin increases with darkness and causes drowsiness. It decreases in the morning as the sun rises and cortisol is secreted. Because melatonin is suppressed by light, being exposed to computer light, phones, televisions or simply working late into the night can lead to melatonin deficiency, insomnia and lowered immunity and aging.
Tips to help you sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is often easier said than done. Here we share our favourite ways of improving your sleep:
1. Get the right sleep quantity
Aim for at least 7.5 hours of sleep per night (2.5hr sleep cycle x 3).
2. Eat light at night and eat carbs
Eating earlier in the evening helps you sleep as your body is not on overdrive trying to digest a heavy meal. Also, eat wholesome carbs in the evening – think sweet potatoes, quinoa, butternut squash, rice. These healthy carbs contain tryptophan that help create more serotonin, which then turns into melatonin.
3. Create a sleep schedule
The body loves routine. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday to get your body accustomed to a regular sleep routine.
4. Cut the electronics
Hard but vital. Light pollution is a big problem. The light interferes with melatonin production. Sleep with your phone in the other room and try to stop using it late at night, especially in bed!
If you really suffer from sleep problems or jet lag, take a high quality melatonin supplement. This is not a long term solution but can help in the short term. Take it 45 minutes before sleep.
6. Set time to relax
Celebrate sleep in the evening by starting to wind down an hour before bed. Take a bath with essential oils, or journal in a quiet space. Light some candles to help create the perfect relaxing ambience and calm your mind. Check out our new chai spices and coffee grounds soy candles.
Need some help sleeping? Slowly and gently massage our organic face serum into your temples as you lie in bed.