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“There is no Beauty without Beauty Sleep. Sleep is the ultimate cosmetic!”-Dr. Fine
Sleep is essential to emotional and physical health. Inadequate sleep over a period of time increases the risks for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. It will also sap your face of vitality, radiance, and youth! Everyone has experienced the dull skin, under-eye darkness and circles, and generally haggard appearance after a bad night of sleep, or an all-nighter. However, in these stressful times, chronic sleep deprivation is more the norm than the exception, with obvious implications for our skin-aging process. There is a reason why it is called Beauty Sleep.
While the Fountain of Youth has been searched for endlessly, instead of an elixir, beauty serum, or cream, what if we could simply sleep our way to radiant skin? Sleep is the ultimate cosmetic! And it is free. What is it about sleep that fuels skin vitality? And how can we ditch our modern sleep disruptors and get more time between the sheets?
Sleep is the time that your skin rejuvenates and repairs daily damage. Deep sleep may be called beauty sleep because the production of human growth hormone surges during sleep and contributes to robust collagen formation in the skin. Growth hormone also helps repair and rebuild other body tissues like muscle and bone. Sleep is also a time for the production of other proteins that repair damaged cells and grow new cells while performing certain housecleaning functions, like taking out the cellular garbage.
Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, slows down the normal wound healing properties of skin and destroys your collagen. This is also true with stress. Chronic stress, with its accompanying high levels of cortisol, can interfere with sleep. Cortisol, as you know, increases inflammation resulting in the breakdown of collagen, so it makes sense that a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2001) demonstrated that women who are sleep-deprived had dysfunctional skin-barrier function, which promoted increased trans-epidermal water loss and much higher levels of inflammatory chemicals in their blood. When you have high levels of water evaporating out of your skin it leads to dehydrated skin that shows all the wrinkles, particularly the fine lines, because moisture in the skin plumps up the skin. This is the same scenario observed in women experiencing chronic stress or anxiety or depression. Insomnia, stress, anxiety, and depression are all instrumental in ruining our complexions.
Moreover, a 2010 study in the British Medical Journal found that people who had a full night of sleep (eight-plus hours) versus the sleep-deprived (31 hours of wakefulness after a night of reduced sleep) were rated as more attractive and healthy. Lack of sleep can make us more unattractive rather quickly. In a similar study of people with obstructive sleep apnea, the ones who used a positive-airway-pressure device at night, and thus slept better, were rated as being more attractive and younger looking. An unexpected observation was that their forehead wrinkles were reduced. Quick! Dive for the covers and stay there!
Furthermore, a recent study demonstrated that a single night of partial sleep deprivation activated a gene-expression pattern consistent with biological aging. This proves a causal link of sleep deprivation to the molecular processes associated with aging. This is why sleep is such an important epigenetic factor for health and beauty.
The evidence shows that, for many people today, getting their beauty sleep is just not happening. Prescriptions for sleeping pills and over-the-counter sleep aids continue to rise as people turn to help for trying to get some sleep, which is something that should be free…and easy. From 1999-2010, there was a 29% increase in “sleep disturbance” as the reason given for an office visit to a doctor. So, it is probably not surprising that, from 2006-2011, the market for over-the-counter sleep aids grew 31% with the biggest growth category being natural and homeopathic products.
The National Sleep Foundation currently recommends 7-8 hours of sleep per night for adults. According to a Gallup poll from 2013, only 59% of Americans reach that goal, while 40% get fewer than 7 hours. The average hours slept per night in 2013 were 6.8. Contrast that to 1942, when the average hours slept per night were 7.9. The number of hours spent sleeping have declined over the last 70 years.
- Power down one hour before bed
- Warm bath with Epsom salts
- Yoga, Tai chi
- Guided meditation
- Progressive relaxation
- Deep breathing
- Cut down on caffeine
- Put the smart phone away from your head
- Turn off the Wi-Fi
- Don’t watch the news before bed
The Top Five Supplements for Sleep:
Melatonin: Melatonin is the sleep hormone released by your pineal gland when the lights go out. Melatonin is very helpful for sleep. Melatonin can induce more vivid dreaming and, in some people, nightmares and morning grogginess. If it has these effects for you, I would not recommend taking it.
Hops (Humulus lupulus): Hops are a sedative herb and the bittering agent added to beer.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata): Passionflower is an herb noted for its anxiolytic (anxiety busting) effects. It is also helpful for sleep.
L-tryptophan: This amino acid is a precursor to serotonin (a neurotransmitter) and melatonin. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to insomnia, anxiety, and depression. It is best taken with pyridoxal 5 phosphate, the active form of B6, which is a necessary cofactor for the conversion of L-tryptophan.
Valerian root (valeriana officinalis): This herb is the number-one herb used in the United States and Europe for inducing sleep. Notably, valerian root reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and lacks a “hangover” effect the next morning. In a minority of people, it will induce the opposite effect: stimulation.
Due to the skin repair, collagen building, skin moisture retention, and beneficial effects on brain neurotransmitters and stress hormones, getting adequate sleep is the best and cheapest cosmetic out there!
Adapted from Cracking the Beauty Code: How to program your DNA for health, vitality, and younger-looking Skin©2017 by Dr. Anne Marie Fine. Reprinted by permission of Fine Natural Products, LLC. All rights reserved.
It’s 3:00 A.M. Do You Know Where Your Sleep Is? (The Covey, June 2018 issue)
My Sleep Rules (The Covey, April 2018 issue)
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