There just might have been some truth to your grandmother's claim that she needed her beauty sleep. That's right, science has come to back her up and has confirmed: beauty sleep is essential for healthy skin. However, the reasons to get enough shut-eye go beyond skin health with sleep - and lack of - being one of the biggest levers on immunity.
If you're getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night, you may already be seeing the visible effects. When you sleep, your body produces collagen and increases blood flow throughout the body – including the skin on your face. This blood flow is particularly important to your under eyes, where the skin is thin and can become discoloured if blood collects beneath the eyes – a regular effect of losing sleep.
When you interrupt this collagen-fueled repair process, you'll not only notice dark circles; you'll also see the additional dryness you experience from a lack of sleep lead to twice as many wrinkles around the eyes.
However, if you get enough shut-eye, your skin has the opportunity to reduce its inflammatory responses, and bring fresh, cell-repairing goodies to your cells, restoring ashen skin to a healthy glow!
Our faces give physical clues that we're tired. Our expressions change when we are tired – more furrowing, more frowning, which are both wrinkle-causers – leaving the edges of our lips drooping instead of keeping a natural smile on our faces.
For those of you looking to have healthier, fuller hair (who isn't?) and to decrease fine lines around your mouth, sleep might just be your miracle fix. The increased blood flow of sleep also ensures nutrients reach the hair, encouraging it to grow faster and thicker, as well as resist breakage.
Oh, and if you needed another reason? The products we place on our skin are far more effective when we sleep because our bodies go into a skin-repair mode, better utilising and absorbing those ingredients we provide to it.
We created Indagare's Signature Night Recovery Oil around this concept - knowing that skin cells are at their most productive at night, repairing and regenerating, we knew it was essential to offer a serum specially formulated to support these processes. Use just 4-5 drops overnight and allow this golden elixir to penetrate the deeper layers and help the healing and regenerating function skin takes on while you sleep. It also plumps skin so you wake to a refreshed appearance.
Beyond aesthetics, getting enough sleep is essential long-term health. We are physically repairing our entire bodies when we sleep, and a lack of shut-eye means the body can't clean itself up, especially damaging the effectiveness of T-cells, our virus-killing cells.
When we are awake and busy during the day, our bodies produce stress hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline. So, how do these affect our immunity? Without getting too far into the science of all the (crazy amazing) things our bodies do, these different hormones cause the body to slow the production of integrin molecules. Your T-cells cannot be effective without this adhesive molecule to help them attach to – and kill – cells infected with harmful viral material. But luckily, we have an instant fix: that nap you've been putting off!
In the short-term, a lack of sleep can leave you feeling lethargic and sluggish, and this sleepiness can lead to poor decision making while driving or working, making you more prone to error. But in the long-term, lack of sleep can impact every area of our lives. Mood, memory, blood sugar, blood pressure, insulin resistance, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease are all potential issues that can come with long-term lack of sleep.
Whew! What a perfect excuse to start sleeping in an extra hour!
So, what's the sweet spot? While how much a person needs to sleep is dependent on variables such as a person's age, a general rule of thumb to go by is between seven and – if you're very, very lucky – nine hours.
While pulling off enough sleep must be a conscious decision for most of us, there are things we can do to help us invest in our bodies and invest in great sleep.
1) Sleeping in a cooler room may help improve your sleep.
Research done at the University of South Australia found that certain forms of insomnia occur with poor body temperature regulation and that the body needs to drop its core temperature for sleep to initiate normally. So, if you're having trouble falling asleep at night, a colder room could help your body cool down enough to reach a level of deeper, restorative sleep.
2) Eliminate distractions.
The Sleep Foundation (USA)suggests turning devices off up to two hours before bed but at the very least 30 minutes.
3) Create a wind-down ritual a few hours before bed.
Photo courtesy: Roberto Nickson via Unsplash
By creating an evening ritual, you are signifying to your mind that it is time to start to wind down. This might involve burning essential oils, or taking a long warm bath. Epsom salts are loaded with magnesium, and it's common for adults to suffer from deficiencies of magnesium, which in turn leads to an increase in stress and lack of sleep. Why not incorporate bath salts into your evening routine? Double points if you use ones blended with essential oils known to relax and calm the mind.
Note: Indagare also created a divine Body Oil that doesn't just nourish and repair skin, but helps you mentally unwind with a sublime mix of essential oils proven to relieve anxiety and support sleep.
4) Exercise daily.
Charlene Gamaldo (medical director at John Hopkins) says: "We do know that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep you get. Slow-wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate. Exercise can also help to stabilise your mood and decompress the mind". Just note, some people do say that exercising at night energises them, so keep this in mind when planning when to exercise.
5) Be aware of the effects of alcohol.
While we may think alcohol helps us fall asleep, a review of 27 studies showed that alcohol does NOT improve sleep quality, and can be particularly disruptive to the second half of our sleep. Put simply, alcohol might help us fall asleep, but it often also causes us to wake throughout the night resulting in poorer quality of sleep.
6) Watch your caffeine consumption.
Limit your number of coffees (advice seems to vary but most seem to agree you should not drink more than three cups of coffee a day) and be sure to cut the caffeine out by mid-day. Keep in mind that some teas are caffeinated.
7) Incorporate herbal teas into your day
Following on from watching your caffeine levels, consider drinking herbal teas throughout the day, or one made with herbs known to support a good night's sleep from early in the evening. Indagare has recently added a sumptuous Tranquility Herbal Tea to their range. For centuries, some herbs have been used around the world as natural sleep remedies. Our Tranquility Herbal Tea takes the best from mother nature and bottles it in one delicious, relaxing loose leaf blend.
Are you looking for the perfect evening routine? Indagare's latest releases - Tranquility Bath Salts and Tranquility Herbal Tea are the basis of a beautiful at-home self-care ritual to support a healthy sleep routine and help manage stress and anxiety.