And... Sleep

Today is World Sleep Day! Yay, an excuse to jump into the covers nice and early and get some well-deserved shut eye (well it’s not like we have anywhere else to go right now!). But for many people, getting a full night’s sleep is easier said than done. Factors such as stress, anxiety, and binge-watching the latest box set can prevent us from falling asleep, then sleep can be broken by things like parenting duties or physiological issues such as pain, body temperature, or needing to go to the toilet. And if you have a partner, their sleep habits (such as difficulty getting to sleep, restlessness, snoring, going to the bathroom) often impact on your sleep quality too.

A good nights sleep should be considered an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, as well as an essential step of your skincare regime. Skip this step and you will definitely notice the difference - it’s nicknamed “beauty sleep” for a reason! Holistically, insufficient sleep has been associated with cognitive problems, mood alterations, reduced job performance, reduced motivation, increased safety risks, and physiological changes in the body. In skin terms, sleep deprivation can lead to high cortisol levels (a stimulating hormone responsible primarily for our fight or flight response) which will contribute to increased sebum production and make it difficult for the body to retain moisture. This can be particularly worsened by the consumption of alcohol, a diuretic that causes increased water loss through urination and vasodilation (widening and relaxation of the blood vessels) which leads to sweating. As a result, your skin will become oilier and prone to breakouts, or existing acne may become worse. Despite the oiliness, skin will be dehydrated with a dull, lacklustre appearance, it will lose elasticity, and surface wrinkles will appear more prominent. The skin also repairs and regenerates overnight, and this will be easier for the body to accomplish while the body is rested.

If you have difficulty sleeping, try to incorporate some of these tips into your bedtime routine to help ease you into a healthier sleeping pattern, and reap the skin benefits of your beauty sleep:

· Establish a regular sleep cycle

o This can be much harder to achieve if you work different shift patterns, especially if you rotate onto day and night shifts. But going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time every night creates routine, and your body will start to recognise when it is time for sleep. Consistency is key here though.

· Eliminate environmental stressors

o Use blackout curtains or blinds to eliminate light coming into the bedroom. Ask others in your household to keep noise levels down once you have gone to bed. Try to keep your bedroom fairly cool and use removable covers to keep you warm.

· Turn your devices off

o Blue light emitted from phones and tablets can delay the release of melatonin – the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Turn off your devices at least 30 minutes before bed.

· Exercise – but time it right!

o As well as helping to improve muscle tone, increase stamina, prevent disease, and improve mental health, physical activity has also been found to improve sleep quality and duration. But some people find exercising before bedtime stimulating and have trouble sleeping, others might be so tired they fall into bed and drop right off to sleep. Find what works for you.

· Don’t eat just before bed

o Eating right before bed can keep you awake because the body is still working to digest food when it should be resting. Try to finish your last meal 2-3 hours before bed so your body can properly digest the food first and be ready to rest.

· Limit caffeine intake

o Caffeine is a stimulant that can be useful to provide a boost in energy levels. But energy levels can be increased for around 5 hours after consumption, so try to only consume them during the first half of your day. Drink de-caff tea and coffee, if you take pain killers do not take ones containing caffeine.

· Avoid alcohol

o Although it may seem tempting after a hard day, drinking alcohol can alter the quality of sleep you have. More time is spent in a deeper sleep, with less time in the more restorative Rapid Eye Movement stage. If you suffer from stress, anxiety or depression, remember that alcohol is a depressant. So although it may seem to help you relax at the time, it is likely that over time it will worsen your symptoms.

· Get into a routine

o An evening routine can help us mentally and physically wind down and prepare for sleep. Routines don’t have to be long winded – take a warm shower or bath, perform your skincare routine with soft music in the background, or simply have a warm drink of herbal tea and read a few pages of a book.

· Use aromatherapy

o Essential oils have been used for centuries to promote relaxation and mental and physical wellness. Oils such as lavender, rose, geranium, vanilla, and jasmine have qualities that can promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and aid sleep. Have a reed diffuser in your bedroom, try a pillow spray that includes essential oils, or use bath or body oils containing essential oils in your night-time routine. Our “Escape” bath and body oil contains 2% essential oils including vanilla, jasmine, sweet orange and sandalwood to help you relax and unwind. Shop here:

· Meditate or use a bedtime app

o The practice of meditation (guided or alone), deep breathing and visualisation exercises can help to relax the mind and the body, and are particularly helpful if you tend to overthink things or suffer from anxiety. Use audio aids only to eliminate blue light exposure.

Sweet dreams!

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