Remember that rested, radiant-skinned and bright-eyed picture of loveliness that was you after your holiday? The real reason we look so good after a week away isn’t because we have a tan or that we got a pedicure, it’s probably because we’ve finally had a decent amount of sleep – something that is becoming increasingly rare in our always-on, busy lives.
“With all the multitasking, multiple demands, long working hours and being surrounded by a myriad of different screens, it’s not surprising that many of us have problems sleeping,” notes Ana Ribeiro, clinical psychologist and mindfulness teacher. “Lack of appropriate sleep can impact on ten different hormones, affecting our concentration, appetite and mood.”
Why sleep is important
If you’re constantly feeling worried, it could be time to prescribe yourself a catnap. Even just a few days of late nights or disrupted sleep can start to have an affect on our nervous system, causing the body to go into an adrenaline-producing overdrive. “Sleep is about resting our sympathetic nervous system,” explains Dr. Roberto Viel at The London Centre of Aesthetic Surgery. “During the daytime this is responsible for your flight or fight responses, which cause an increase in heart rate and a hyper-alert mindset.” Handy for a last-minute work presentation, but fail to rest your system and your body remains constantly stressed. “When your adrenaline goes into overdrive, the body’s serotonin and melatonin processes start malfunctioning,” says Dr. Irshaad Ebrahim, Director of The London Sleep Centre. “This leads to anxiety, fatigue, lack of concentration and feeling down.”
Say goodbye to dull skin
Lack of sleep also takes its toll on your skin, as less shut-eye means the body’s core temperature is reduced. Blood vessels constrict, your circulation is compromised, and less oxygen and fewer nutrients are delivered to the cells. As sleep is when our skin repairs itself, this is bad news for your complexion, leading to dull skin that’s more prone to infections, such as blemishes.
Meditation for sleep
So what’s the solution? Sometimes we just can’t fall asleep, no matter how early we get into bed. It’s no surprise, really, as we are bombarded with constant texts and emails, and then there’s the lure of our Instagram feeds and a growing addiction to Netflix, making it increasingly hard to switch off. “Multitasking is a myth,” explains Ribeiro of our modern addiction to doing a thousand things at once (most of them screen-based). “The human brain can only focus on one thing at a time, and mindfulness meditation allows this,’ she adds. Not only does mindfulness help you switch off, it also makes you more productive in the hours when you’re not sleeping or relaxing. “Mindfulness is similar to Japanese Zen philosophy, which celebrates a less is more approach”, explains Ribeiro. “It’s about one thing at a time, which we need to live a more fulfilling and balanced life.”
Creating the best environment for your beauty sleep
1. Your bedroom should be a cozy and serene environment, with soothing colors and soft lighting. Aim for tidy and uncluttered. This includes banishing all phones, computers and iPads.
2. Surround yourself with a few beautiful things, which make you feel calm and happy. Choose photos of loved ones or cherished memories and objects that have sentimental meaning for you.
3. Darkness is very important, so ensure you have blinds or curtains to keep it as dark as possible. This encourages melatonin production, which helps to regulate the body clock, ensuring a good night’s sleep.
4. Check the temperature is not too hot or too cold. Keeping it slightly cooler is better (16-18C/60-65F) if you’re having trouble sleeping.
Follow Ribeiro’s guided mindfulness meditation for a restful, blissful sleep.
Beauty Editor’s tip: It’s at night that your skincare products work their hardest to replenish any lost moisture, fight blemishes and add a healthy glow to your complexion. Try SHISEIDO Ibuki Beauty Sleeping Mask – it’s like sleep in a jar. This innovative overnight mask has vitamin capsules in a gel base that melts onto the skin. Calming oils relax your body helping you to finally call it a day, crawl under the covers and close your eyes. Vitamins C and E work to make tired-looking skin refreshed, brightened and clear, while the non-sticky formula leaves your complexion beautifully dewy and rested.