Dark circles, bags under your eyes, dull complexion …. and the awful moment when someone asks “Are you OK? You look tired”…!
Yes I look tired! Because I am tired.
We’ve known for a long time about the negative effects of lack of sleep on your body – but there’s no denying that the immediate effects are seen in the way you look.
The concept of beauty sleep is definitely not a myth. A bad night’s rest is written all over your face.
But whilst we know we need it, getting the right amount of deep, quality sleep can prove elusive!
Below, we show you five things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep, plus three fail-safe ways to drift off when you’re having trouble sleeping.
We also set out six simple tips to maximise the beauty benefits so that you wake up with smoother, healthier-looking skin, a glowing complexion, and feeling back on top of your game!
A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP DOESN'T ONLY IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH
In this stressful modern world, lack of sleep has become a real issue.
Chronic insomnia has been linked to serious issues including diabetes, heart disease, depression and obesity. But for most of us the visible effect of a restless night is dull skin and puffy eyes … and the sinking feeling that you might not make it through the day without nodding off!
THE BENEFITS TO YOUR LOOKS OF QUALITY SLEEP
Studies have shown that missing out on sleep makes you look tired and less healthy, and therefore less attractive to others. And since it can lead to premature skin aging, a weakened defence system and breakouts, as well as under-eye circles and dull, dry skin, it’s worth working out a few strategies to make sure that you’re getting enough.
In fact, a good night’s sleep may be the closest thing there is to an elixir of youth.
While you snooze your body has a chance to repair and recover leading to a long list of benefits for your looks.
A good night's rest gives us all a healthier appearance, with smoother skin, fuller hair, brighter eyes and fewer breakouts.
And the best part?
You only need one or two nights of high-quality sleep for the beneficial effects to start showing.
SLEEP BETTER, LOOK BETTER
Skin functions differently during the night compared to the day.
During the day its primary role is to act as a barrier and protect from the effects of pollution, the sun and other damaging free radicals.
But at night, when we are sleeping, there is an increase in blood flow, improved collagen growth and faster cell regeneration. This means that your skin has the time to repair and regenerate as you doze.
Getting good quality beauty sleep is worth it.
Here are six of the key beauty benefits of getting enough rest:
Smoother skin –
During your sleep cycle there is a release of growth hormone which stimulates collagen formation. This typically happens during ‘deep sleep’, stages 3 and 4. And more collagen means your skin is plumper and less likely to develop fine lines and wrinkles.
Luckily, men's skin has about 20-30% more collagen than a woman’s.
However, the collagen levels drop rapidly after you reach 40 years of age leading to skin losing its elasticity and firmness. Wrinkles start to form more quickly, becoming deeper and more visible.
This is exacerbated by a lack of good quality rest.
Encouraging collagen growth by getting enough sleep will help to mitigate this process and encourage smoother skin.
A glowing complexion –
While you are sleeping your body increases blood flow to the skin. This not only transports essential nutrients to skin cells, it also results in a healthy glowing complexion the next morning.
Brighter, less puffy eyes –
Dark circles or bags under your eyes are the first things that you see when you don’t get enough rest.
When you’re low on sleep, and blood isn’t flowing well, it can collect under your eyes causing puffiness and sometimes become visible in the form of dark circles because the skin there is so much thinner.
Improved blood flow as a result of getting a good night’s sleep minimizes this puffiness, and also the dark circles.
Healthier, fuller hair –
Lack of sleep can have a direct impact on the quality and fullness of your hair – leading to breakage and hair loss.
Hair growth begins in the hair follicles, and for them to function properly they need nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from blood flow. The increase in blood flow when we’re sleeping means more nutrients, resulting in stronger hair and improved growth.
Lack of sleep can also lead to more stress and the release of the hormone cortisol. This can also cause you to lose hair.
A happy, healthier appearance -
When you’re tired, your facial expressions change in subtle ways. We tend to frown more, and the corners of the mouth turn down slightly. Insomnia also makes you more susceptible to depression.
But when we’re well-rested, we look healthier, we feel happier and we smile a lot more.
Products work better –
The higher cell turnover which comes during sleep, coupled with the increase in blood flow, helps your skin to benefit from all of the skin-repairing ingredients in your beauty products.
HOW MUCH SLEEP DO YOU NEED TO SEE THE DIFFERENCE?
It’s clear that both quality and quantity of sleep is directly linked to how we feel and how we look. But how many hours is enough?
There is plenty of discussion about the exact optimum amount you need, with the consensus being between 7 and 9 hours. However, each individual is different, and generally you know better than anybody if you’re getting enough or not.
The only thing that the studies and all of the experts do agree on is that less than 4 hours will have a negative effect!
HOW TO GET BETTER QUALITY SLEEP
Given all of these benefits, it’s obvious that you should try to get good quality sleep every night. Knowing how good it is for you, it should be easy, right? You simply close your eyes, and ….. lie there!!
For many of us, sleep can be elusive. The stress and anxiety of the day make it hard to just switch off and fall asleep at night.
Below are 5 things you can do to make falling asleep easier and improve sleep quality. And we’ve added an extra three fail-safe ways to fall asleep for when you’re really struggling.
Consistency is key
Try to keep to the same bedtime and wake time every day, even at weekends.
This ties in with our internal bodily mechanisms that regulate sleep - the Circadian Rhythm and Sleep-Wake Homeostasis.
For the same reason it’s good to try to avoid being exposed to bright light just before bed.
Start a bedtime ritual
This sends the signal to your body that it is time to wind down and go to sleep.
This could include taking a warm shower just before bed. When you get out of a warm shower, the air temperature around you will cool your body, sending a chemical reflex to the brain that will induce sleep.
Respect your body. Aerobic exercise is one of the most effective ways of reducing stress hormone levels, enabling you to sleep more deeply. Just try not to exercise before bedtime – it will make your brain more active, and increase your heart rate, both of which are counterproductive to sleep.
Create an ideal sleep environment
- Try to keep your bedroom cool. Your body temperature needs to drop to induce sleep, so keep the room temperature low. 16-18°C is thought to be the optimum temperature to promote good sleep. And make sure that your duvet doesn’t have too high of a tog rating.
- Ensure your bedroom is as dark as possible. Try to avoid any blue light from phones or TV’s in the bedroom, and you could consider installing blackout blinds, or using an eye mask.
- A comfortable mattress and pillow can’t hurt either.
Avoid eating a heavy meal up to 2 hours before bedtime. There’s also evidence to suggest that the following foods can have an effect on your sleep:
Foods to try
Bananas have a high magnesium content which helps to relax the body They also contain serotonin and melatonin to moderate your sleep-wake cycles.
Almonds and nuts are full of minerals and amino acids which encourage your body to relax. They contain good levels of magnesium and are a great source of vitamin E, which helps repair skin tissue and retain skin moisture.
They also contain sleep-regulating melatonin which is especially helpful if you suffer from insomnia, or are recovering from jet lag.
Honey, a natural sugar which raises insulin levels and allows tryptophan to enter the brain more easily. You could stir some into an herbal tea before bed to help you sleep. It’s also chock full of anti-aging antioxidants as well.
Kiwi fruit is packed with Vitamin C, vitamin E, folate and serotonin. A study found that four weeks of eating kiwi fruit twice a day improved sleep onset, duration and efficiency.
What to avoid
Cheese eaten before bed has been shown to lead to indigestion, and nobody can sleep through that!
Coffee! It’s obvious, but you should drink coffee to wake you up, not calm you down. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep try to avoid drinking any coffee after noon.
Alcohol reduces your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and interrupts your natural circadian rhythm, so whilst it can help you to fall asleep faster it also contributes to poor quality sleep. Meaning you wake up feeling lousy!
AND IF YOU NEED EXTRA HELP FALLING ASLEEP…
If none of the above are working, and you’re still struggling to fall asleep, here are three proven, fail-safe ways to drift off.
But firstly, go easy on yourself!
Don’t expect to fall asleep immediately. It’s OK to lie there for a while. Your body is still getting the benefits of rest even if you haven’t managed to actually fall asleep.
There's a lot of evidence to suggest that simply resting with your eyes closed, or 'quiet wakefulness', has similar benefits to having a nap. It's compelling because it eliminates the stress around trying to fall asleep - which is often what keeps you awake!
If insomnia is wearing you out you could try:
A Sleep Sound App
For example, the Rain Rain™ sleep sounds app has over 100 different sounds – from ‘rain on a windowpane’ to ‘ocean waves’ and ‘crackling fires’ – which can be set to slowly fade away on a timer. It will lull you to sleep in no time.
Regulate your breathing
Try slowing your breathing down to half your normal rate. This will slow down your heart rate, and calm your mind.
You could also try the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise developed by Dr Andrew Weil. Essentially, you breathe in for four counts, hold for seven, and then breathe out for eight counts. Always inhaling through your nose and exhaling out through your mouth. The four-count inhale allows you to take in more oxygen. The seven-count hold gives the oxygen more time to permeate the bloodstream, and then the eight-count exhale slows the heart rate.
Imagine yourself lying in a black velvet hammock, in a pitch-black room. I have no idea why, but it always works for me!
MAXIMISE THOSE BEAUTY BENEFITS
Adopting the following night-time habits will make sure that your skin and hair get the full benefit of excellent sleep.
Sleep on your back
Sleeping on your back stops your face from rubbing up against the pillow and helps prevent facial asymmetry. It may not seem as though it would make a difference, but years of sleeping on one side or the other can result in noticeably more ‘sleep lines’ on the side that you sleep on.
Wash your face
... we recommend our Daily Face Wash
Not cleaning off the oil and grime of the day before sleep causes your pores to clog, which can lead to breakouts. It’s always best to go to bed with clean skin. And our Daily Face Wash is gentle enough to use morning and night without leaving your skin feeling dry at all.
Skin can lose a lot of water while you sleep.
In order to wake up with a hydrated complexion in the morning, make sure to use an anti aging moisturizer like our Hydrating Daily Moisturizer.
Amongst other things it contains hyaluronic acid, which attracts water to the skin, and helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
It’s also good to apply a lip balm before you go to sleep.
Both products work better during the repair cycle of the skin, which is while you are sleeping.
Use the right products
The cells of the skin are regenerating at night so you should give them everything they need. As we mentioned, hyaluronic acid, is known to nourish skin and prevent signs of ageing, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and keeping your skin looking its best.
Our Hydrating Daily Moisturiser also includes Matrixyl (a peptide) to boost collagen production, and Jojoba Oil and Vitamin E to regenerate the skin, improve elasticity and increase the suppleness of your skin.
Using the right moisturizer can maximise cell renewal, repair daily damage and also deliver hydration in one go.
Great for rejuvenating skin after a long, tough day at work.
Take care of your eyes
Tap a dab of moisturiser lightly onto your cheekbones before you go to bed. This will help to reduce puffiness and also firm the delicate skin around your eyes.
If you tend to have puffy eyes in the morning, try elevating your head slightly by sleeping with an extra pillow. When you lie flat, fluid can gather around your eyes.
Hydrate by drinking water
Skin loses more water when you sleep than it does when you’re awake. So as well as applying a hydrating moisturizer, try to drink plenty of water during the day to compensate and help your complexion stay hydrated overnight.
If you follow this guide you’ll see the results very quickly.
One or two nights of good quality sleep and you’ll be back to looking your best!
Night time habits to adopt...
- Stick to a consistent routine
- Start a bedtime ritual
- Exercise every day
- Create an ideal sleep environment
- Eat right
If you're still wide awake at 2 in the morning, try these ...
- Use a Sleep Sound App
- Regulate your breathing
- Practice visualisation
And to maximize the beauty benefits...
- Sleep on you back
- Wash your face before bed
- Use the right products
- Take care of your eyes
- Hydrate by drinking water throughout the day
Adopting these night time habits will lead to your eyes looking brighter and your skin and hair looking younger and healthier during the day. Ready to take on anything!
For more on the best healthy things you can do for your skin, check out our article here - "6 Free Ways to Get Great-Looking Skin".