Rest Your Way Beautiful
There’s a reason people say to “get your beauty sleep.” Snoozing really does improve your physical appearance. In a 2010 study, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that sleep-deprived individuals appear less healthy, more tired and less attractive than those who have received a full night’s worth of sleep.
While that may seem somewhat obvious, there are other, little-known ways that sleep — whether it’s lack of it or how you’re doing it — affects your appearance. Here, Michael F. Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and coauthor of YOU: Being Beautiful
, and Michelle Drerup, PsyD, a sleep psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center and creator of the online sleep improvement program GO! to Sleep
, share ways you can get the sleep you need to wake up looking and feeling more beautiful.
Our guess is that those Swedish researchers already know why sleep-deprived individuals appear less healthy, more tired and less attractive. They know that sleep stimulates your growth hormone, which promotes fibroblast health (helping to maintain the structural integrity of connective tissues) and allows more production of collagen and elastin to keep your skin taut and vibrant.
There’s another reason: Observers ranked sleep-deprived volunteers as less healthy and more tired looking. According to the study’s authors, people are programmed to pick up on exhaustion and are less attracted to it, because of the health problems and lower life expectancy associated with long-term sleep deprivation.
Everyone’s sleep needs are different, but your goal should be to get six and a half to eight hours of quality sleep each night.
Most of the day, gravity pulls your skin down, contributing to facial sagging and wrinkles, even making your earlobes appear longer, says Dr. Roizen. Nighttime is the chance for your skin to relax and rejuvenate. But if you sleep with your face pressed to the pillow, you’ll just look puffier in the morning (and develop sleep lines). Switch to sleeping faceup and you allow gravity to exert a light stretching effect on your skin, giving you a mini face-lift by morning.
To further your overnight beauty treatment, bedtime is the right time to treat your skin. Topical retinoids, which treat acne, brown spots and wrinkles, are best applied at night, as they are inactivated by light, says Melissa Piliang, MD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. For women with dry skin, a heavier, noncomedogenic moisturing cream — something that may not look very elegant during the day — can be used, says Dr. Piliang.
Protect Against Puffiness
Did you know that an allergy to dust mites or dust mite waste is common? Ditto allergies to feather pillows and laundry detergent. If you wake up with puffy eyelids, it’s time to do some allergy testing, suggests Dr. Roizen. If dust mites are to blame, your best bet is to cover your pillow with a MicronOne case
that feels like a pillowcase or a latex cover that feels a bit plasticky. Both work to decrease dust mite allergies and the subsequent puffiness. If you think it may be your pillow or detergent, do some switching to determine the cause and fix the puffiness problem.
You know a smoker when you see one, right? If they’ve been doing it long enough, you can see those telling vertical lines above the lips from years of puckering around cigarettes. Well, smokers are also cheating their bodies of beauty rest, since smoking cigarettes and sleep don’t mix. The effect of nicotine on the central nervous system is arousal, explains Dr. Drerup. Nicotine will generally make it harder to fall asleep — and harder to stay asleep. And recent research has found that cigarette smokers are four times as likely as nonsmokers to report feeling unrested after a night’s sleep. In addition, smokers spend less time in deep sleep and more time in light sleep than nonsmokers do. For heavy smokers, it’s even more of a problem. They may have middle-of-the-night awakenings caused by nicotine withdrawal.
Close Your Mouth
You may think that brushing and flossing are all you need to do to keep your mouth healthy and healthy-looking. But there’s one nighttime habit that can seriously ruin your mouth’s good looks: sleeping with your mouth open. Whether you sleep open-mouthed out of habit or because you have a clogged nose, it’s time to change your ways — or take a decongestant! When your mouth is exposed to all that air, it dries the gums and enamel to create gingivitis and possible bone decay — not a pretty picture!
Sleep More, Eat Less
One of the main reasons why people overeat is that they’re not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep leads to an increase in appetite, sometimes a dramatic one. What’s worse, in a study at the University of Chicago, study participants who were experiencing sleep deprivation craved more calorie-dense, carbohydrate-rich foods, such as cake, ice cream, pasta and bread. Another study on the effects of diet and sleep found that drowsy dieters produced higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and slows down the body’s fat-burning mechanism. So not only are you famished and eating more when you’re sleep-deprived, you’re also burning less fat.
If you’re overweight or obese, you need to lose weight for your health, not just to change your looks. Ultimately, Dr. Roizen says, the idea is to be in shape for you — for your health, your mind, and for you to feel beautiful.
Put the Pain to Rest
When you don’t get enough sleep or enough quality sleep, you tend to have more pain
, since the lack of sleep doesn’t allow you to fully refresh the neurotransmitters you have that normally suppress pain. And that extra pain drains your energy — so you feel wiped out near the start of the day. With pain and exhaustion at play, it’s nearly impossible to feel beautiful. Beyond consulting with your doctor to treat the source of pain, you can reduce your pain with relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or gentle yoga.
Reboot With a Nap
When you’re tired, your energy level drops, which doesn’t look good on anyone.
As long as you’re not experiencing insomnia at night, go ahead and take a daytime snooze, recommends Dr. Roizen. Just make sure to keep it under 30 minutes. Any longer than that and you’ll slip into a stage of deeper sleep so close to the dreamy REM phase that when awakened you’ll feel hungover and drowsy. At less than 30 minutes, a nap can be invigorating. Naps enable your brain and body to reboot.
Hold Onto Your Hair
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body is stressed. And when your body is stressed, even your hair feels it. Suddenly your locks don’t seem as thick or grow as quickly; your hair may even lose its shine and bounce. Even worse, your hair could fall out!
The stress from lack of sleep can cause hair loss, according to senior trichologist (that’s someone who deals with the scientific study of hair and scalp) Leonora Doclis of the Belgravia Centre in London. Those who are already susceptible to hair loss due to genetics face the most risk.
You can help your hair by sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase. The smooth surface creates less friction, which helps prevent breakage overnight and may even keep your hairstyle smooth. Put it over a MicronOne pillow cover. No more morning bed-head!
Reduce Stress for Clearer Skin
The stress from lack of sleep doesn’t only cause hair loss; it can also aggravate skin conditions, including acne, eczema and psoriasis. Sleep loss also causes the skin to look pale and tired, due to impaired circulation.
To manage stress and decrease anxiety, setting limits, delegating tasks and getting organized can make a big difference. Doing things that are enjoyable, such as going to a movie or taking a walk, can also be helpful. So can practicing relaxation techniques before bed, such as deep breathing, guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques help you prepare the body and mind for sleep
Dr. Drerup’s Top 5 Sleep Tips
To get the rest you need to look and feel your best, Dr. Drerup suggests these solutions:
1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Being consistent strengthens your body’s sleep-wake cycle and leads to better sleep at night.
2. Watch what you eat and drink. Stay away from big, heavy meals as well as spicy or acidic foods, and limit alcohol and caffeine within a few hours of bedtime.
3. Create a bedtime routine. Just like children, adults need to wind down before bed with a ritual. Limit electronics use: Some studies suggest that screen time or other electronic media before bedtime can interfere with sleep.
4. Get physical. Physical activity (at least three hours before bedtime) every day can promote better sleep. Research suggests that morning is the ideal time to exercise for improvement in sleep quality.
5. Know when it’s time to get help. If you’ve tried the recommended strategies but are still struggling with sleep problems, you may have a sleep disorder that requires treatment with a specialist.