“Beauty sleep”... We’ve all heard the term, we’ve probably used it ourselves, and may even wonder if it’s real. Does a good night’s sleep enhance our beauty? And how do we get it? Per the dictionary, beauty sleep is the “sleep before midnight, assumed to be necessary for one’s beauty.” Why midnight? The belief is that getting into bed before midnight allows you to get more hours of slumber in, thereby helping you wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested.
The first known use of the term in literature is in the 1828 novel Herbert Milton by author Charles White. But does “beauty sleep” really exist? Is it simply a lovely turn of phrase and the stuff of legend, or a wondrous wellness hack?
Before we dive into that and figure out how to attain and maintain it, let’s consider what we mean when we say “beauty”.
Glowing, inside and out
We’re big believers in beauty being not only what you see but how you feel. The two go hand in hand because when you feel good — mentally, physically, emotionally — you exude a sort of inner glow that infuses your whole being.
Think about it. The most beautiful people, the ones you not only look at and think, “Wow, they look good” but you actually feel their splendor, are those who are a total package — healthy, confident, centered, and content. They have that certain “other”-ness about them, a spring in their step, a calm and joy that you appreciate in the best sense of the word.
That beauty is full and complete, and a good night’s sleep is a big contributor. Those hours spent in delicious slumber make a difference for us, enhance our lives, and create a wonderful sense of calm and pure relaxation. They make us feel good and that informs how we treat and deal with others as well as reflects on the outside.
Okay. We’ve established that when we at Sleep Club talk about “beauty sleep,” we’re looking at the entire package that is you. And, yes, it really does exist and helps you look and feel the best you can.
Beyond skin deep
Did you know that your skin makes new collagen when you sleep? A-yup. That beloved magical thing — that actually accounts for 30% of your body’s protein and prevents sagging — is just waiting to weave its way through that natural protective body covering while you doze. As we’ve discussed in the past, there’s a whole repair and rejuvenation process that goes on while you slumber, and this is just one aspect to make your skin plumper, less likely to wrinkle.
We go into recovery mode during sleep, giving us a chance to heal from the rigors of the day — physically and mentally. These are the hours our body not only produces collagen but growth hormones (GH) that literally build new cells. This is the time when the ever-helpful circadian rhythm companion, melatonin, goes into high gear to help us rest soundly and our fight-or-flight hormone, cortisol, which also manages our stress, lowers and works with GH to rebuild what we may have damaged during the day. Cortisol also helps regulate our metabolism and support our immune system, among other things.
Ironically, the number of hours you rest also affects how much of the repair process can take place. Let’s say you only get 5 hours a night instead of the suggested 7-9. Well, this can lead to twice as many fine lines. Resting well keeps your cortisol levels low and in check during the night so they can support regeneration and repair. Lack of sleep, however, releases more of this stress hormone and where the low amount enhances your well-being, higher amounts have just the opposite effect, causing inflammation, weight gain, and even acne and psoriasis.
Stress has a complete inner and outer affect on our entire being. Too much can cause mental and emotional duress, making you irritable, short tempered, anxious, and even depressed. When that happens, it’s hard to deal with others and we may retreat or act in a way that can be off-putting. A restful night brings us peace and calm along with physical recovery, making us not only look our best but feel it as well.
Sleep and weight
We touched on this briefly while discussing cortisol, but let’s dig a little deeper.
There are two pretty important hormones that tell us when to eat and when to stop eating. Ghrelin (aka the “go” hormone) is what announces to our body that we need to satisfy our hunger. Leptin hormone lets us know when we are done. Lack of sleep produces more ghrelin and less leptin. Not only that, but when we are sleep deprived our metabolism slows down.
Healthy, well-balanced slumber gives our body and mind a chance to rejuvenate and supports every possible anatomical benefit we can imagine. So what do we do? How do we get our “beauty sleep” and make the most of it?
We’re glad you asked and here are eight favorite tricks we have incorporated into our mind, body, and soul beauty routine.
One — Sleep on your back or side
Smooshing your face into your pillow or bed can cause wrinkles on your skin and residue from the day to collect in your pores. Also, on your back helps to keep your neck straight and that also helps with reducing fine lines and wrinkles. On your side is good for your brain health and has been proven to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Two — Elevate your head
First of all, it’s relaxing and that helps you feel more refreshed when you wake up. Second, elevating your head allows for better flow in your body and that means no pooling of fluid under your eyes during the night and less puffiness. You’re welcome.
Three — Wash your face before bed
Get rid of that day-long dirt before you let your head hit the pillow. Even if you sleep on your back or side, going to bed with a dirty face will catch up to you sooner or later.
Four — Use a silk or satin pillowcase
Our skin is delicate and at some point, your face will come in contact with the pillow. Trust us. Silk and satin pillowcases cause less friction on the skin and the hair, helping you maintain a healthier elasticity and less breakage, respectively.
Five — Keep hydrated
Water is your friend. Keep a bottle by your bed or do as we’ve talked about in the past, have a small “skin care refrigerator” with cold bottles at the ready. It’s good for your body and your mental well-being. Dehydration can lead to anxiety, depression, and irritability. Inside and out, remember?
Six — Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night
Just to quickly reiterate, these are the magic hours for your body and mind. Give them the time they need to do right by you.
Seven — Take time for yourself
Whatever your go to is for winding down and getting yourself in sleep mode — meditation, deep breathing, a hot lavender or ginger bath, a cup of chamomile tea, warm milk and a good book, whatever — take the time for you to release the happenings of your day and give into slumber’s blissful embrace.
And, Eight — Get up and move
Exercise and sleep go together like milk and cookies, peanut butter and jelly, cake and ice cream — hmm… could be I’m hungry, but you get my drift. It doesn’t matter if your movement of choice is a nightly walk around the block or going to crossfit everyday, getting physical regularly is just as good for the mind as it is for your body. It also helps you sleep better, which in turn makes you look and feel better. A perfect match.
The gorgeous truth
Sleep is a magic weapon against a plethora of ills, and when you let yourself drift away in blissful slumber, you give your mind and body a chance to work its powerful, natural, unmatched magic on you. And when you do that, it shows.
And it’s beautiful.