When you’re asleep, your body isn’t simply in hibernation; it’s hard at work repairing damage. In the short term, signs of sleep deprivation include sunken eyes, dark circles, puffiness, and pale skin. However, the long-term cellular consequences are less obvious. Collagen growth, wound healing, skin hydration, and inflammation are affected by sleep. Having a pro-inflammatory state is associated with acne breakouts, psoriasis, and eczema. Sleep deprivation causes your body to release stress hormones (cortisol) and induces negative changes in your immune system. Your skin functions as a barrier, protecting your body from potential pathogens in the environment. A lack of sleep weakens this barrier, making your skin more susceptible to bacterial infection.
Collagen is what makes our skin plump and full. Our skin naturally produces collagen, but as we age, this process slows down. Fibroblasts, the cells responsible for producing collagen, are inhibited by cortisol. This stress hormone also accelerates the breakdown of collagen and elastin. Getting enough sleep will allow the collagen-producing cells to repair and reproduce themselves, thus maintaining the healthy, robust skin we desire.
Often times, clients come in looking for an eye cream to make their dark circles disappear. Of course, we have cosmetics and quick fixes for the short-term, but the long-term and most effective solution is getting enough rest.
If you have the time to dedicate to sleep, yet, you just can’t fall asleep, Arianna Huffington recently wrote a book called The Sleep Revolution. In it, she describes techniques to help you fall asleep and provides in-depth information that will help you master the art of sleeping. Furthermore, if you like audiobooks, you can listen to Arianna’s book while drifting off.
If you have trouble falling asleep consider trying a low dose (3mg) melatonin supplement or chamomile tea. Melatonin Ultra by Schiff contains chamomile and valerian extracts, along with GABA and threonine, making it one of the most effective sleep aids that I have encountered.
Start by counting backward from your ideal wake-up time. For example, if you need to be awake by 6 am, ideally you need to be asleep by 10 pm. Give yourself 1 to 2 hour of pre-bedtime preparation. Put away your cell phone and laptop and dim or shut off all lights. Then do a relaxing activity such as silent meditation, reading a novel, or apply a mask. This will help your body reach a state of complete relaxation and allow for a deep, restful sleep.
When I went to fill my eyeglass prescription, they offered me a new type of filter for blue light. I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I ordered the lowest percentage blue light reduction screen and have noticed that my eyes feel better.
In the evening when I watch TV, I don’t seem to have any issues with glare or falling asleep. Applications that filter blue light are also available for your phone or computer.
Once you’re on the right path, you may consider practicing how to sleep on your back. This will help protect the elastin and collagen within your skin. By not squishing your face into the pillow, you will prevent the early onset of wrinkles and age gracefully.