There are a lot of things in our lives that we have in excess — shoes, nail polishes, an appreciation for truly spectacular vintage finds on eBay — but sleep is not one of them. Sadly enough, we’re not alone: According to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation, a whopping 63% of Americans say they are not getting enough sleep during the week. While being sleep-deprived is bad enough for your career/social life/general well-being, it also takes a massive toll on your skin. “Sleep helps you regenerate your body,” says Dr. Matthew Edlund, one of the country’s foremost authorities on sleep and rest. “In a few weeks, you are basically replacing and regenerating your entire body. Studies have shown that people who sleep better, look better.”
That’s all well and good, but how are you supposed to nail down those elusive ZZZs? To help you end those sleepless nights (and quash all those unhelpful “gee, you look tired,” comments from your co-workers), we asked a team of experts to give us their snooze-worthy (literally) tips to help you get your best beauty sleep, so you wake up looking — and feeling — gorgeous.
According to Dr. Edlund, it’s not just about the amount of sleep you are getting, it’s also about the quality of it. On average, Dr. Edlund says most people wake up about 15-20 times during the course of the night, but don’t realize they are awake. If you don’t power down mentally and physically before you go to bed, that number can double or triple. The more deep, uninterrupted sleep you get, the more refreshed and well-rested you will be, so it’s crucial to make every effort to get your best sleep BEFORE you actually go to bed.
To prepare yourself for this restorative sleep, Dr. Edlund recommends doing a series of de-stimulating exercises for your mind and body. “Take 30 minutes before bedtime to calm down,” he says. “Do some breathing exercises to relax your body and meditate to put yourself in a state of mental rest.” He also suggests practicing paradoxical relaxation: Actively focus on one muscle group at a time. Don’t tense or move those muscles, just think about them, one by one, and your body will slowly begin to relax.
2). Create A Comfy Sleep Environment
How can you expect to get any sleep if your bedroom is a gauntlet of stimulants? Edlund recommends removing or covering all the lights in your room — even those from your digital clock. “Lights can block out melatonin production, which causes you to be more fully awake, making it harder to fall back asleep,” he says. Make sure your bedroom is a place that promotes sleep with calming things like cozy blankets and silky sleep masks. Dorothy Praska, the lead aesthetician at Bliss SoHo in NYC, suggests using essential oils as part of your nighttime ritual — put some lavender oil on a humidifier to gently spread the calming scent throughout your room. You can also dab a drop or two on your pillow — just be sure not to go overboard as too strong a scent will actually just make you more awake.
3). Get Into A Routine
“Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends,” says Dr. Edlund. “If your body’s inner timing mechanism is really synchronized and tight, you just work better.” It’s also helpful to create a sleep routine each night — turn down the lights, brush your teeth, lay out your clothes for the next day, and read a non-stimulating book, like poetry or a memoir. “You want to do things that tell your brain it’s time for sleep,” he says.
4). Formulate A Nightly Beauty Ritual
Your skin does the majority of its repair work at night, so you need to optimize that with some really fabulous products. Night creams are specifically formulated with more moisturizers and active ingredients in order to capitalize on your revved up reparative system, so you’ll get the best beauty results if you use one at bedtime, as opposed to your usual moisturizer. Praska says you should also only use exfoliating treatments like glycolic acid or retinol at night, as they will irritate your skin and can cause sun damage if you use them during the day.
5). Trick Your Body Into Relaxing
Simple things like what you eat and your body temperature can actually have a huge impact on your sleep. Coffee addict? Better cut down on the afternoon lattes — caffeine can actually stay in your system up to 7 hours after being consumed, which can cause some big problems trying to get to la la land later that night. Instead, Praska recommends drinking chamomile tea, which can have a calming effect and is caffeine-free. Dr. Edlund also says that a nightcap is a big no-no — it can be just as disruptive as caffeine and will only cause you to wake up more during the night.
If you’re having real trouble falling asleep, Dr. Edlund recommends the temperature trick: Take a hot bath right before bedtime. It will raise your core temperature, so that when you get out, you get cold, which causes you to get sleepy. “When your body core temperature rapidly declines, it tells your brain to go to sleep immediately. Taking a hot bath seems to mimic that natural prompt,” says Edlund.
Ren Omega 3 Overnight Lipid Renewal Serum, $60, available at SpaceNK; Rodial Glamtox Night, $110, available at Skinstore; Bliss The Youth As We Know It Anti-Aging Night Cream, $79, available at Sephora; Dermalogica Overnight Repair Serum, $60, available at Dermalogica; Neal’s Yard Remedies Beauty Sleep Concentrate, $51, Neal’s Yard Remedies for locations.
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