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Beauty Sleep: Myth or Must?

By Deborah Schrameck, NC, PT

Sleep is the foundation on which we build and maintain our health and is the best way of guarding against stress and age-related diseases.

Is the concept of beauty sleep a myth or reality? Science tells us that a good night of sleep is essential for repairing, regenerating and restructuring the skin. Several studies suggest that the magic happens between
11 p.m. and 2 a.m. when the skin renewal rate almost doubles, increasing cell division that renews and repairs skin.

During the day when it’s light, our skin’s main job is to keep hydrated and protected. At night when we’re sleeping, the skin is genetically programmed to switch into recovery mode, proving beauty sleep to be far more than a marketing line.

The benefits of sleep for skin include fewer wrinkles, less sagging, rejuvenated color, fewer acne blemishes, and less inflammation.

During sleep, blood flow increases to your skin increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery. This allows the skin to remove pollutants, free radicals and other irritants which cause skin aging. Increased nutrients rebuild collagen and repair damage from UV exposure. Collagen, a protein found everywhere in the human body, has different functions in different places, but in the skin, it provides volume and thickness. When we get proper sleep collagen repair reduces wrinkles and improves dry, flat, sagging skin.

Melatonin is commonly thought of as the hormone that helps us get to sleep, but it also acts as an essential antioxidant produced at night to support the repair of oxidative stress from UV-light damage. This improves age spots, fine lines and even helps prevent skin cancer.

Getting a good night’s sleep helps to lower the stress hormone cortisol. Lack of sleep increases your cortisol levels putting your skin in a pro-inflammatory state. This impacts the protective barrier of the skin, drying the skin and increasing the exposure to bacteria or other irritants that can result in acne, blemishes or other skin conditions like psoriasis. Elevated levels of cortisol also increase the breakdown of collagen and elastin, resulting in more wrinkles and premature aging.

During sleep a surge in human growth hormone helps repair and rebuild body tissues, increasing muscle mass and strengthening skin. Naturally occurring growth hormone plays a big part in maintaining the collagen matrix, and hence the appearance of youthfulness.

At midday the protective oil on our skin peaks with a significant drop at night, causing the skin to lose vital levels of hydration. The less you sleep, the more dry and dehydrated your skin will look and feel. The effects of dehydration on skin are swollen, sunken eyes; dark circles; flaking; a pale, ashen complexion.

Here are a few quick tips to improve your skin at night:

  • Sleep 7 – 9 hours consistently.
  • Wash your face to remove pore-clogging irritants before bed.
  • Moisturize to hydrate and protect the skin at night.
  • Sleep on a smooth clean surface to reduce skin irritation.
  • Sleep on your back to limit wrinkles from skin stretching and compression.
  • Elevate your head to help reduce bags and circles under your eyes by improving blood flow and preventing blood from pooling.

Beauty sleep of 7 – 9 hours per night is a surefire way to help your skin repair itself, increase blood flow, rebuild collagen, and allow the muscles in your face to relax after a long day.

Deborah Schrameck is a wholistic kinesiologist, health coach, nutritional counselor and owner of Body Alive. She can be reached at (760) 238.0625 or happyfit@mac.com. For more information visit www.BodyAlive.us.

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