Sleep is a powerful beauty treatment for the brain, body and skin. To maximize the full benefits of sleep, it is important to not only get enough sleep—but to achieve a quality sleep. In this article we will expose the TOP 10 SLEEP DISRUPTORS. You will learn why you may want to switch to day drinking and how sleeping naked can help you sleep more soundly.
Beauty sleep is a timeless and true part of many It-Girls’ beauty regimes. Many celebrities endorse sleeping and attribute it to their beauty success. Check out our last post Beauty Sleep: How Sleep Deprivation is Sabotaging Your Selfie Game #NoFilterNeeded to find out why beauty sleep is our #1 It-Girl Essential.
Even if we are getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night—it may not be enough. The key to bolster our beauty while we sleep is to get an adequate amount of uninterrupted sleep. (Sorry mama’s with newborn babies! May we suggest some chic oversized sunglasses for a push-present?)
Our body’s prime rejuvenation and repair time is in those 7+ hours of the night when we are sleeping sweetly. This is when our growth hormone (GH) really gets to work! It is during Stage 3 of our sleep cycle, the stage where we start to progress into a deep sleep, that our GH is secreted in the brain: If we aren’t sleeping, or if our sleep is getting interrupted, then we are missing the greatest surge and all the benefits it provides!
GH has many varied roles throughout life, from growth itself, including the turnover of muscle, bone and collagen, to the regulation of selective aspects of metabolic function including increased fat metabolism and the maintenance of a healthier body composition in later life. (PubMed.gov)
Do not kid yourself. Those midnight dashes to the bathroom, late night text message notifications and that Lindt chocolate bar you ate after dinner—are all prohibiting you from receiving the best beauty treatment of your life: UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP.
“Honey, you’ll look like hell if you don’t get a good night’s sleep.” – Elizabeth Taylor (Harpers Bazaar)
10 THINGS THAT ARE DISRUPTING YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP:
Studies show that a moderate dose of caffeine 6 hours prior to bedtime has a significant disruptive effect on our sleep. Caffeine temporarily blocks sleep inducing chemicals in the brain as well as increases the release of adrenaline. Don’t forget that chocolate, teas, and sodas with caffeine in them are stimulants as well. (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)
Alcohol consumption can initially make you feel drowsy, but then leave you wide awake during the night. It is also a diuretic, so you may need to go to the bathroom more often during the night—interrupting your normal sleep pattern and decreasing your beauty sleep benefits. It will leave you dehydrated and deprive your skin of the vitamins and nutrients you need for a glowing complexion. Also, alcohol contributes to a puffy and bloated appearance as well as body odor as your body tries to eliminate toxins in the alcohol through your skin! (drinkware)
Alcohol interferes with REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), which is often considered the most restorative type of sleep in which the brain and body are energized. With less REM sleep, you’re likely to wake up feeling groggy and unfocused. (Sleep Foundation)
TIP – If you are drinking alcohol, try to avoid it close to bedtime. Give your body time to process the alcohol before you try to sleep. On average it takes one hour to process one unit (76ml wine, 25ml whiskey, 250ml beer, 218ml cider, 250ml cooler), but this can vary from person to person. You can download this app drinkaware to help you keep track of your drinking!
Nicotine is not only a depressant—but also a stimulant. That smoke before bed may make you feel relaxed, but is in fact having the opposite effect. Furthermore, research shows that nicotine is linked to problems with insomnia.
Not only does nicotine affect your beauty sleep, but it directly contributes to aging. Check out April Age software to see how you will look in 10, 20 or 30 years.
Nicotine causes our blood vessels to constrict. This means there is less blood flow and nutrients delivered to your skin and hair follicles—causing premature wrinkling, sagging and dull and brittle hair. (Not the look we are going for!) (PubMed.gov)
According to a PubMed survey, “Cigarette smokers were significantly more likely than nonsmokers to report problems going to sleep, problems staying asleep, daytime sleepiness, minor accidents, depression, and high daily caffeine intake.”
And, “Sleep disturbance may be more prevalent among smokers due to the stimulant effects of nicotine, nightly withdrawal, an increased prevalence of sleep disordered breathing relative to nonsmokers, and/or an association with psychological disturbance.” (PubMed.gov)
4. Spicy and Salty Foods
Spicy and salty foods can contribute to indigestion during the night and wake you up feeling uncomfortable and unable to fall back asleep. Salt is an essential mineral, but in excess, it can sabotage your beauty. It lengthens the time it takes you to fall asleep, REM and non-REM sleep are disrupted, with REM sleep increasing and non-REM sleep decreasing. This can even cause nightmares and increased dreaming and may have you up during the night to quench your thirst. The morning after you will be left feeling drowsy and unrested. (Endocrine Connections)
“Spicy and acidic foods can also kill sleep efforts because they cause heartburn. Heartburn is especially problematic for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux. Why is eating these foods close to bedtime such a concern? Lying down makes heartburn worse, and the discomfort from heartburn hinders sleep.” (WebMD)
TIP – if you have problems with acid reflux, don’t consume spicy or extra salty foods in the evening—keep these foods to lunch or afternoon snacks at the latest and make sure to drink enough water to counteract the effects of the salt.
5. Room Temperature
That pile of cozy blankets and the heat cranked up could be inhibiting your sleep. Thermoregulation is linked to the regulation of sleep, with extremely hot or cold temperatures affecting sleep. Heat exposure can decrease slow wave sleep stages (Stage 1 and 2) and increase wakefulness. Humid heat has even greater implications. On the contrary, cold temperatures do not affect sleep cycles negatively. As you sleep your body temperature decreases from that at which it was during the day. This is due to vasodilation of the blood vessels of the skin, where they release heat and deliver nutrients to our skin. Decreased temperature also affects the release of melatonin—which contributes to our drowsiness and ability to fall asleep. (ncbi.gov)
TIP – Let some oxygen in, turn on the bedroom fan, crack a window, peel off some layers, and/or set the thermostat to 15.5°C–19.5°C—which is the ideal sleep temperature range. (Sleep Foundation)
6. Sleep Schedule
“Sleep health is a multidimensional pattern of sleep-wakefulness, adapted to individual, social, and environmental demands, that promotes physical and mental well-being. Good sleep health is characterized by subjective satisfaction, appropriate timing, adequate duration, high efficiency, and sustained alertness during waking hours.” (PubMed.gov)
Our bodies run on a 24 hour clock called the circadian rhythm, influenced by different hormone releases and surges throughout the day that are often caused by sensory cues in our environment, like the sun setting or rising, normal meal times, social interactions, daily routines, etc. For humans this is about 9 hours of sleep and 15 hours of wakefulness. (PubMed.gov)
“…Studies have shown that disturbances of the circadian rhythm produce alterations in sleep architecture and sleep quality known to be associated with fatigue, vigilance problems, decreased productivity, and negative health effects.” (PubMed.gov)
TIP – Go to bed at a set time each night and get up at the same time each morning—even on weekends and holidays! Avoid sleeping-in on weekends as it will make waking up early on Monday morning for work harder because it re-sets your sleep cycle for a later awakening. (Try adding 15 minutes each night until you find your sweet spot of waking up feeling refreshed.) (NIH)
7. Bedtime Snacking
A late-night meal keeps the body on “high alert” when it should be winding down. And the types of food you eat have an even greater impact. (PubMed.gov)
A number of macronutrients influence sleep through tryptophan (Trp), which serves as a precursor for brain serotonin, a sleep-inducing agent. It is now known that high-glycemic-index (GI) carbohydrates have the ability to increase the ratio of circulating Trp. Thus, a high-GI meal would be expected to promote sleep. It would also be expected that a meal containing a high protein content, would reduce serotonin. (AJCN)
TIP – Avoid large meals before bed; Adults should never eat within two hours of bedtime—and ideally nothing after 7pm. Try a light snack at least 45 minutes before instead that is low in protein and higher in carbohydrates (if you must!) (Sleep Foundation)
“Darkness causes the release of the hormone melatonin, which is a highly effective all-natural sleep aid. Even a small amount of light can throw off your melatonin levels, and it takes only a few minutes for this to happen.” (Oprah.com)
TIPS – “Dim the lights about 30 minutes before bed, and turn off all electronic devices, including smart phones, computers and iPads. Block outside light from the moon and streetlamps with opaque blinds or curtains. Night-lights with red bulbs have less of an effect on melatonin than white ones, and alarm clocks with red numbers are less disruptive than ones with white or blue digits.” (Oprah.com)
Use black out blinds and eye shades if necessary. The blue light of our screens mimics the sun and will impact your melatonin levels to keep you awake. (Dr. Harold Lancer, Dermatologist)
Turn your devices (iOS) “Nightshift” and “Night Light” (Android) mode to “on” if you are sitting in bed using your devices before you go to sleep. And for your computers, download Flux software which adapts your computer screen color to the time of day, allowing you to wind down with the sun.
Stress is very complex—with emotional, cognitive, and biological components. In order to try and maintain homeostasis, our body uses defense mechanisms to protect itself against stress. One of these mechanisms is the release of cortisol which negatively influences sleep by enhancing alertness. This alertness can have you laying wide awake in bed stressing about your inability to sleep as well as stressing about what was stressing you in the first place! This chain reaction is completely counterproductive when we are trying to relax and sleep.
TIP – Wakefulness caused by stress can be alleviated by managing your everyday habits: Try to be more positive, accept what you cannot change, be more organized by planning out your day in advance in order of priority, and attack problems bit by bit. Deal with stress the moment you first notice it, instead of pondering over it at bedtime. (PubMed.gov)
10. Sleep environment
The bedroom should be limited to sleep and sex only. This strengthens the association between bed and sleep. (Sleep Foundation) Your bedroom should be free from noise (such as your partner snoring—or in my case, my Frenchie), cool and unstuffy, dark, uncluttered and relaxing.
TIP – Remove the TV from the bedroom, remove obstacles such as clothing from the floor that may cause you to trip during the night if you need to get up, and invest in some soft foam earplugs to block out noise.
Oh, and P.S. that part about sleeping naked, well it is true. It is understandable that in these northern Canadian winters, one may opt for grabbing the flannel pj’s, but studies show that the optimal temperature for our anti-aging hormones to get working is less than 21C. Heavy blankets and clothing impede the GH (not to mention your sex life!)
“Growth hormone (GH) affects just about every cell in the body. It is essential for tissue repair, muscle building, bone density and healthy body composition.”
A lower body temperature helps you get a deeper more restorative sleep. And if your partner happens to sleep in the buck, you can both benefit from higher oxytocin levels—the feel-good hormone—not to mention the wonderful natural sleep aid of a good orgasm.(Dr. Natasha Turner, ND)
There are several things we do each evening that diminish the quality of sleep we receive (disrupting our sleep during the crucial restorative cycles) and thus affect how beautiful we look and feel the next day.
Let’s maximize the vast effects that sleep has on our body and obliterate the things we do each day that are destroying our beauty sleep—even knocking one off the list at a time.
A bad night’s sleep reflects in our appearance the next day with dark under-eye circles, a dull complexion, fine lines, rashes, eczema and acne. Let’s be savvy and in the spirit of self-love, give ourselves the gift of 7+ hours of sweet and uninterrupted beauty sleep.
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” –Mahatma Gandhi