Sleep, either one life’s joys or a nightmare (love a bad pun).
If you’ve ever had chronic sleep issues or just a few bad nights of sleep you would have noticed that it’s not just your mind and body that suffers but your skin too.
We can find ourselves lying awake worrying about any number of things from financial destitution to growing older and death... ok maybe that's just me but we all experience sleepless nights.
Sleep is vital to functioning well during the day, that much is obvious but it’s also absolutely vital for staying healthy, youthful, and for looking our best.
Sleep is when our body does all of its repairs as our cells regenerate. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to a whole host of health concerns. For your skin you’ll notice a lack of sleep will lead to a dull complexion, or it feeling dehydrated and being more prone to skin conditions.
The science of sleep
During sleep, a process called ‘cellular mitosis’ occurs. Cellular mitosis is where old cells are replaced with new perky ones. That’s why you’ll notice that after a good night's sleep your skin will look better you’ll probably find you look like a different person when you’ve slept properly!
Melatonin is the hormone that signals to our body that it's time for bed, we want to naturally allow our bodies to produce as much melatonin as possible. More on that later. Melatonin doesn’t just help with sleep but is also is responsible for activating antioxidant enzymes which protect us against free radical damage.
Cortisol is also an essential hormone, it's responsible for getting our brain going in the morning as well as signalling to our body that it's the end of our sleep cycle. It's only in consistently high amounts that cortisol becomes dangerous and has a direct link to cancers and chronic illnesses.
In terms of our skin it can cause breakouts, dehydration, and many other skin irritations. We want to keep cortisol functioning at its normal level and in sync with our circadian rhythm. See here for more on controlling cortisol.
Techniques for improving sleep
Grounding/earthing - a fancy way of saying, stand on the grass or dirt with your shoes off! Just 30 minutes each day has been shown to reset our cortisol levels to sync with our circadian rhythm.
Another approach is you can buy an earthing sheet for your bed which will pulse your body with the same electromagnetic frequency as the earth. An interesting study here has shown incredible benefits.
Morning sun - Good sleep begins when you wake up. Bathe in morning sun for at least 20 minutes (even when it’s cloudy and cold). Try and be as naked as a polite society will tolerate as you want it on as much skin as possible.
The short answer to why is that morning sunlight reinforces your natural circadian rhythms. To find out more see here.
Lightboxes have also been shown to work if you are living somewhere where you’re unable to get any morning light.
Light hygiene - Artificial light in our modern society is a blight on our sleep. I can’t stress the importance of limiting artificial light at least 1 to 2 hours before bed.
Ideally, you want no LEDs or any artificial light on in the house past sundown. Most modern lighting omits high levels of blue light. Blue light is what triggers the brain into thinking that its day time so your body won't secrete adequate melatonin.
Tungsten lights are fine, candles are better (and romantic).
If you are using screens at night you can get blue light-blocking software like Iris which is fantastic. If you have an iPhone and want to go full nerd you can use this hack to cut all blue light from the screen and make it completely red.
Option 3 is to wear blue light blocking glasses but be warned, you may end up looking like Bono.
Be in bed before 10 pm - I know right! Impossible sometimes but the more structure you can have around your sleeping patterns the better sleep you’ll have. 10 pm is the ideal time for your circadian rhythm and all of those healing hormones to work properly.
Brain Dump - If you struggle with sleep because of an overactive mind try journaling before bed. Anything that's whirling around in your mind or that to-do list, get it out on paper so it's not occupying space in your mind.
Your body and your skin will love you for it!
Before bed skin ritual
Always remember to cleanse before bed removing any makeup or pollutants from the day. Elemental Cleanser is designed to do both without stripping your skin of its natural oils whilst nourishing and protecting your skin barrier.
After cleansing apply Clean Collagen and let it work its magic overnight combining with your body’s natural regenerative process.
When you wake, hydrate! Coffee should not be your first fluid of the day. Drink anywhere from 1 glass to 1 litre of filtered water, your skin will thank you.
Sleep, it's where your body does its best work.