Feature

Sleeping beauty

G Magazine

When it comes to personal health and beauty, we all know the drill on eating good food and getting plenty of exercise. But are you investing in your sleep?

Sleeping beauty

Credit: iStockphoto

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Called ‘beauty sleep’ for a reason, a good night of slumber is indeed fantastic therapy for your skin, and in our time-poor lives, making the effort to catch your eight hours ought to be shifted up the priority list. Investing in decent slumber as part of your everyday ritual is a great investment for the state of your health and skin.

When we sleep well, we naturally release skin-loving hormones known as melatonin and human growth factor. Melatonin is a powerful hormone that promotes healthy sleep. It has the added benefit of being a strong antioxidant in the body, protecting the body’s cells against free radical damage. Free radicals are one of the main causes of premature ageing of the skinl they are troublesome molecules that are triggered in the body by a number of usually unwholesome things such as too many UV rays, poor diet, pollution and stress and lack of sleep.

Human growth factor is another super skin hormone necessary for helping to build and repair body tissues like muscle and bone and collagen – the skin’s main building blocks. It also helps to counteract the adverse effects of cortisol, the stress hormone that is released in our bodies when we get too little sleep! Cortisol is an infamous skin saboteur, known to wreak havoc on your beauty regime in many different ways. It blocks the formation of collagen, the stuff that makes our skin firm and bouncy, has a damaging effect on the immune cells in the skin’s epidermis, disrupts the skin barrier and weakens the skin’s defense against UV light, infections, pollution and other environmental stressors and contributes to skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. Additionally, high levels of cortisol are meant to trigger the release of brain chemicals called neuropeptides that contribute to acne.

The key to getting more of the good hormones and less of the bad is to get good sleep. However there are other ways of reaping the benefits without putting your head on the pillow. The British Association of Dermatologists say that “relaxed wakefulness” such as meditation, or any relaxing activity will benefit our skin too.

Experts say to get the best out of your night sleep, turn off the lights before 10pm and aim for a block of between seven to nine hours sleep a night as the adrenals, the body’s stress glands that release cortisol, do all their healing earlier in the night. To improve the quality of your sleep avoid stimulating activities or substances such as caffeine or watching a scary movie!

A lovely footbath laced with Epsom salts and lavender essential oil will draw tension from the head and relax the body all over. Massaging your feet afterwards can help bring the body back into balance after a hard day’s work as the feet are home to many pressure points connected to organs in the body. Try also sipping on a well-brewed cup of chamomile tea. A drop of lavender essential oil on your pillow may also help.

DIY: Night Face Elixir

Research shows that skin cells accelerate at night, making it the perfect time for the body to rest and the skin to absorb topical preparations. Here is a wonderful face elixir to rejuvenate skin cells and promote a good night’s sleep!

Rosehip oil is brimming in moisturising fatty acids and skin rejuvenating transretinoic acid. Jojoba oil is super hydrating on the skin as it sports its own built-in humectant that helps keep moisture in the skin. Lavender is regenerative with the added benefit of having a relaxing effect on the nervous system.
 
20 ml jojoba oil
30 ml rosehip oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
 
Mix together well and pour into a small dark 50 ml bottle. Massage a few drops into the skin after cleansing each evening.