We all know the importance of sleep for our health and appearance. But when it comes to getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep, this is easier said than done. You could be tempted to watch that late night movie, or read one last chapter of that book.
For many of us, the goal of sleeping at 9pm or 10pm may be elusive. Many sleep at a decent hour but suffer from bouts of insomnia. However, it pays to learn how to sleep, as you will definitely look and feel younger. Ever wondered why babies and children have such beautiful skin?
Research shows that skin cell regeneration doubles at night and peaks between 11pm to 4am. Sleep deprivation leads to inflammation and oxidative stress which contributes to aging.
For those who have trouble maintaining deep sleep, here are some tips on how to sleep better.
Step 1 - Control your exposure to light
To maintain a good sleep-wake cycle, expose yourself to natural light during the day, and complete darkness when you go to sleep. If you work indoors, try to get at least half an hour of sunlight during the day. Let as much natural light into your work space or home as possible.
At night, avoid bright screens within two hours of your bedtime. Switch off all lights, Wi-Fi, and electronics in your bedroom. Rather than using the television to wind down, read a book or listen to an audio recording. Invest in dark-out curtains to ensure that the room is completely dark. If you wake up during the night and need to move around, use a dim light.
Step 2 - Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Sleeping and waking up at the same time each day, helps to optimise the quality of your sleep. If you need to make up for a sleep deficit, take a nap during the day, rather than sleeping in past your usual wake-up time. Once you’re getting enough sleep, you won’t need an alarm clock to wake you in the morning.
Step 3 - Watch what you eat and drink
Caffeine can cause sleep problems therefore try to avoid coffee, chocolate and tea after lunch.
A nightcap may help you fall asleep, however, it interferes with your sleep cycle by waking you up in the middle of the night. Limit your intake of liquids in the evening to avoid frequent trips to the bathroom.
Avoid heavy foods within two hours of sleeping as they may be difficult to digest thereby keeping you awake.
Step 4 - Get regular exercise
Studies show that regular exercise increases the amount of time you spend in deep restorative sleep. Try to exercise at least four times a week and finish at least three hours before your bedtime.
Step 5 - Wind down and manage your thoughts
Although you may not realise it, residual stress and worry may interfere with sleep by causing you to awaken in the middle of the night. Stress is deadly to the skin, therefore it is important to learn how to manage it in a productive way and to maintain a positive outlook on life. Some things that may help with relaxation are:
· Taking a warm bath with magnesium or bath salts
· Listening to relaxing music
· Write out your to-do list for the next day
· Sprinkle two drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow
· Have a cup of chamomile tea
Remember, when it comes to sleep, its not just quantity that matters, but quality. While you sleep, your body makes collagen, the protein that keeps skin strong and elastic. Your body also rehydrates, giving your skin a healthy glow.