Frankie Rozwadowska reveals how getting your beauty sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to great skin…
It is not just a saying or an old wives’ tale – sleep really does make you more beautiful. Heidi Klum gets 10 hours a night, whilst Penelope Cruz clocks up 12 – and Eva Mendes claims she would get the gold medal if sleep became an Olympic sport. And with glowing skin like theirs, we want in on the sleep action. Those glorious hours when we are dreaming of magical lands or Ryan Gosling (admit it) are when our skin goes through vital processes of restoration and repair, and when our metabolic rate rises to replenish dead cells at the surface. Sleep also helps support a healthy immune system, enabling our bodies to not only banish blemishes but also fight off infections – warding off illness and boosting mental wellbeing. It is therefore a vital process in keeping us young, beautiful and in good health, making it extremely worrying to learn that the majority of us aren’t getting enough of it. Today sleep is seen as a luxury and not a necessity, and a whopping one in three people suffer from sleep problems. The result? We’re turning into a world of puffy-eyed, energy-less zombies, surviving on sugar and Starbucks to make it through the day. Not a pretty sight…
Not enough sleep can lead to a startling array of health issues, from depression and anxiety to weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and memory loss, as well as making us look tired and old. Most of us need an average of eight hours sleep a night, but this can range from 6-10 hours depending on the individual. If you wake up feeling groggy and are in need of a nap come the afternoon, it’s safe to say you are not getting enough shut-eye – and we all know what that feels like. It’s hard to concentrate, you have less energy and motivation to do anything, you feel more emotional and irritable and you are less likely to want to exercise. If just one night of too little sleep can have this effect, you can imagine the damage repeated sleep loss can have on your mind, body and beauty. Sleep boosts immunity and gives your cells time to repair themselves, as it’s when our growth hormone is secreted. This hormone is anabolic, meaning it helps to build up proteins needed to repair cells and tissues. Sleep also allows your brain the time to ‘reorganise’ thoughts and emotions, keeping us mentally balanced and physically healthy.
Lack of sleep not only makes you feel lousy, but it puts extra stress on the body. Increasing levels of stress hormones mean one thing – wrinkles. And lots of them. Instead of battling nasty environmental factors like pollution and sunlight, at night our systems focus on repairing damage caused during the day, and without this key time period skin becomes more sensitive and irritated. During the day, the sympathetic system is in control – keeping blood flow near the core of the body. But whilst you’re dreaming away, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over – directing the flow of blood to the skin. This increase of oxygen in the skin’s cells allows receptors in the blood vessels to obtain amino acid molecules, which help drain toxins and fluids whilst building collagen. This means no puffiness and instead, supple, smooth skin. Not enough shut-eye also means higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes increased inflammation and the acceleration of ageing and worsening of blemishes. It also reduces the skin’s ability to stay hydrated, making for a dull, lacklustre complexion.
Researchers at Estée Lauder delved further into sleep’s impact on skin, and their recently commissioned research at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Ohio tested 60 women aged between 30 and 49, with half the group having their sleep cut short. Using UV light exposure to monitor the results, the outcome was staggering – with those who had insufficient sleep showing twice the signs of skin ageing than those who got a good night’s kip. They also discovered that those with good sleep patterns had 30% higher moisture retention levels and were able to recover faster from environmental factors that cause stress to the skin, including sun damage and pollution. Elma Baron, the lead scientist, revealed that their study “is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin ageing. Sleep deprived women show signs of premature skin ageing and a decrease in the skin’s ability to recover after sun exposure.”
So how can you turn around your terrible sleep habits and boost your beauty regime? In a recent experiment conducted by Dr. Michael Mosley and sleep researcher Dr. Katharina Wulff at the University of Surrey, one of the biggest problems they found was the use of technology. This means watching TV or checking your emails before you turn out the light. Even sending a text message or a quick tweet can impact your night’s sleep, as electronics and technology stimulate the brain – switching it on, not off. Artificial ‘blue’ light prevents the release of the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin, and enhances alertness, not exactly what you want when you’re about to go to sleep. So avoid these activities and replace them with relaxing experiences like having a warm bath, reading a book or listening to music, which allow both our bodies and minds to slow down and start the resting process. So the next time you’re tempted to post a quick picture on Instagram or catch-up with the Kardashians, wait ‘til the morning. You’ll sleep, and look better for it.
They also uncovered that diet plays a key factor in how we sleep. In a world of processed, sugar-laden meals and coffee shops on every corner, it’s little wonder that what we are putting in our bodies is affecting how we are turning them off. Before bed avoid sweets and caffeine, but also heavy, fatty meals. Consuming a big stodgy meal at night means your digestive system goes into overdrive – likely to lead to a disturbance in sleep. One top tip is to have a light meal, early in the evening. Think yoghurt, fresh fruit and vegetables. A glass of warm milk is also said to have a relaxing effect, as do foods rich in magnesium – so eat lots of green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, whole grains and almonds. Of course they all work wonders on feeding your skin with essential nutrients too! Or a particular favourite of mine is a big cup of chamomile tea – a herbal healer renowned for its calming effect. Other natural remedies include lavender, lemon balm and valerian root, so look out for products containing these sleep-inducing saviours in your local health store.
So shut down, turn off and get some shuteye. You’ll feel better, look younger and be healthier for it – turning you into a Sleeping Beauty fit for a fairy-tale. What a dream.
Why not try our top lotions and potions – guaranteed to work their night-time magic…
- For a sleep-filled night, soak in a bath of Aromatherapy Associates Relax Deep Bath & Shower Oil. Just one capful will release the aromatic oils of nature’s most calming plants (Chamomile, Sandalwood and Vetivert) to instantly create a deep sense of peace and tranquility, and the Coconut Oil will leave you feeling seriously soft. Perfect if you’re feeling overtired, exhausted or in need of a night of unbroken sleep. £39
- For the ultimate night-time nourishment, the new Origins Plantscription Youth-renewing Night Cream is bursting with glow-inducing goodness. Formulated to replenish dehydrated skin and reverse signs of ageing while you sleep, it visibly lifts and smoothes texture whilst restoring radiance and reviving bounce. Containing over 300,000 Raspberry Plant Stem Cells, there’s also Rosemary Extract to help maintain natural elastin, Vitamin C and Peptides to boost collagen production and rare extracts from the leaves of the West African Anogeissus tree famed for its anti-ageing and skin boosting properties.
- Moroccan cedrus oil blends beautifully with olive oil, Bulgarian Lavender and Evening Primrose Oil in Molton Brown’s Sleep Cedrus Body Oil. Deeply fragrant, its restful aromas aid relaxation and help your senses to unwind whilst your body is cocooned in a calming and nourishing oriental oil. £27
- Part of the award-winning This Works Deep Sleep Range, the Deep Sleep Dream Cream is, quite literally, a dream cream. Designed to soothe tired hands and feet and to encourage a good night’s sleep, it combines a powerful, therapeutic blend of aromatherapy oils, including Provencal Lavender to calm, Wild Camomile to soothe and Vetivert, ‘the oil of tranquility’. There’s also organic Crambe Oil to restore hydration and repair damaged or dry skin, and Omega 3 rich Cemelina Oil to improve skin elasticity and suppleness. You’ll be left feeling smooth, soft and superbly sleepy. £18
- Neal’s Yard Remedies’ Beauty Sleep Concentrate is the essential elixir for overnight regeneration. This is thanks to an abundance of dormins extracted from the Narcissus Tazetta Bulb which work with the skin’s natural nightly bio-rythms to optimize the recovery of cells, and a high level of amino acids that enhance collagen production. With Grapeseed Oil and Cocoa Seed Butter to prevent moisture loss (which increases at night) and Clary Sage, Orange Oil, Patchouli and Ylang Ylang to calm and relax, it’s a beauty sleep saviour. £31.50
- Estée Lauder’s new Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum Infusion is a super-potent, fast-penetrating serum specifically made for the delicate eye area. With its lightweight and refreshing texture, combined with anti-pollution technology to reduce the appearance of visible damage caused by environmental factors, you can finally bid farewell to under-eye shadows and puffy peepers. With a high concentration of soothing anti-irritants and blend of antioxidants and Hyaluronic Acid, just a few drops before bed will ensure you awake bright eyed and bushy tailed. £45