Sleep Strategies for Younger Looking Skin
Sleep is the body’s natural repair cycle and one of the best things you can do to protect skin from premature aging. During this nightly downtime, cells go into regeneration mode, tissue is strengthened, and cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for inflammation, decreases. At the same time, increased flow of nutrients and oxygen to skin helps remove toxins and promote brighter complexion.
During deep sleep (the REM cycle), antioxidants get a turbo boost to fight free radicals, and the body releases 75% of its human growth hormone (HGH), which is vital to healthy tissue, cell growth, and collagen production. Finally, good quality sleep stimulates the critical enzyme telomerase, which protects DNA against cellular aging. A shortage of sleep means a shortage of repair.
Before the new year gets into full swing, this is a good time to think about creating some new habits to establish a healthy sleep schedule that will pay dividends throughout the year for everything from heart health to more radiant skin. Here are some areas you should look at in planning your new year sleep strategy.
Do whatever you must to make good sleep a top priority. Studies show that just one hour of additional sleep can make a big difference. In the U.K., researchers found that when volunteers got one hour less sleep than their average, genes associated with inflammation and stress increased. There were also increases in the activity of genes associated with diabetes and risk of cancer. When volunteers added one hour of sleep, the reverse happened.
Stick to a schedule
Sleep and wake at the same times throughout the week including the weekends to help keep your body’s circadian cycle in sync. The more you can stick to a consistent schedule, the easier it will be to drift off and stay asleep throughout the night.
Dim your devices
All that glowing white light from your variety of screens interferes with your circadian rhythms and makes it harder for you to fall asleep. Most devices offer the ability to shift the colors in your display to a warmer spectrum that’s less disruptive to your sleep cycle: Night Shift on Mac devices and Night Mode on Android. Check your settings to set the shift to happen automatically in the evening so you don’t forget.
Try a relaxing and healthy warm drink
Our favorite nightcap is a non-alcoholic, slightly spicy sip of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, honey and coconut milk. Hello, slumber town. Known as Golden Milk or Moon Milk, this soothing concoction is like a tuck-in from the most tender mama bear in prep for hibernation. In addition to being calming and sleep-inducing, it’s powerfully antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to aid your sleep repair cycle. We like this recipe from Epicurious. Warning, you’re going to get hooked.
Getting some physical activity improves both quality and duration of sleep by reducing stress and tiring you out. According to the National Sleep Foundation, timing your exercise to early morning and afternoon may also help to reset the sleep-wake cycle because the rise and subsequent drop in body temperature trigger sleepiness a few hours later.
Enhance your sleep environment
Heat, light, noise (including your partner snoring) can all interfere with your good night’s sleep. Create an environment conducive to getting your best sleep by keeping the temperature between 60 and 67 degrees. Make sure your blankets aren’t too heavy. If you’re a light sleeper, consider using earplugs and a sleep mask.
Don’t rely on alcohol or sleeping pills to aid sleep
While alcohol may make you feel drowsy and fall asleep, studies show that it decreases time spent in REM sleep, and often causes sleep disruptions later in the night. Many sleeping pills have the same issue. These substances induce sleep, but not the deep sleep necessary to kick-start restorative hormones including HGH. Avoid drinking within four hours of bedtime.
This won’t help you sleep, but it will help you maximize your repair cycle. Use all the tips above to get your best sleep and while you’re sleeping, use some retinoid therapy to enhance skin repair. Our top picks:
Boost cellular metabolism, reduce fine lines, promote a more even skin tone, and clear blemishes, all while nourishing skin with anti-inflammatory and moisturizing ingredients.
Antioxidant and nutrient-rich ingredients including peptides, caffeine, grape seed oil, and Vitamin A combine to speed cell regeneration, brighten dark circles, reduce puffiness and smooth fine lines.