What’s one thing college students, new parents, teenagers and more than half of the American population have in common?
As important as it is to get enough sleep, a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation in 2002 concluded that “74% of American adults experience a sleeping problem a few nights a week or more and 39% get less than seven hours of sleep each weeknight.” Recently, The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement suggesting an 8:30 a.m. or later school start time for middle and high school students and with good reason.
Research has shown that young people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to suffer depression, be involved in car accidents and have lower test scores. Lack of sleep is also a risk factor for weight gain and can disrupt the body’s regulation of blood sugar. An increase in stress-hormone levels contribute to an elevated rise in blood pressure and promote inflammatory changes associated with chronic disease, including heart disease and diabetes.
Much More Than Just A Phrase
We’ve all heard about needing our ‘beauty sleep’ but it turns out this phrase isn’t just superficial-it can accelerate the aging process! On a visual level, not receiving the crucial shut-eye results in a dull complexion because when you are tired, blood doesn’t flow efficiently; fine lines also appear more prominent. On a deeper level, your skin, as well as your whole body, transitions into repair mode when you sleep. New skin cells grow and replace older cells. An increase in inflammatory cells in the body lead to a breakdown in collagen and hyaluronic acid, both of which assist in giving skin it’s glow, bounce and translucency.
A Look at ‘Beauty Sleep’ by the Hour
Perhaps Charles Perrault’s tale The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods was inadvertently on to something, except let’s replace the 100 years with the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. (Yet another example of how I love to tie beauty and literature together!)
Hours 1-3: The deepest sleep of the night, your body produces the most human growth hormone- critical to skin and hair repair.
Hours 4-5: Deep sleep shortens and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep begins. There’s also an increase in melatonin, a hormone with potent antioxidant properties to combat oxidative stress.
Hours 6-8: This is when you get the most REM sleep. Your skin’s temperature reaches its lowest point, enabling muscles to relax and allowing skin its deepest recovery.
Solutions to Promote Better Sleep
Sometimes sleep doesn’t come easily so if you have trouble sleeping, try these suggestions.
- Schedule your bedtime and your wake-up time according to the number of hours of sleep you need.
- About an hour or more before bedtime, stop phone calls and watching television and read or listen to music instead.
- Try aromatherapy (my favorite!). Lavender, neroli and sandalwood essential oils can relax and promote a restful sleep. Fill half of a mini spray bottle with water, mix in your relaxing essential oil of choice and lightly spritz onto your sheets and/or pillow.
- Learning to manage your stress or keep it under control will in turn yield to a more restful sleep. Breathing techniques, exercise, a spa visit and regular massages can keep stress in check.
Hope you all had a lovely weekend. What helps you catch more Zzzzz’s?
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