When was the last time you heard the phrase “you snooze, you lose”? When it comes to skincare the exact opposite is true. Sleep is undoubtedly your skin’s best friend. Needless to say you’ve probably noticed the negative effects skimping on sleep has on your face. The bags under the eyes, the sallow, lacklustre skin; they all point to one thing- beauty sleep is real.
As the largest and one of the most receptive bodily organs, our skin is dynamic. It’s continuously renewing itself and needs special care at every stage of life. Fewer resting hours can mean suffering any number of skin-related dilemmas.
One woman that knows a thing or two about the importance of catching enough z’s is osteopath and expert naturopathic nutritionist, Susannah Makram. Here the London-based pro shares her know-how on the internal effects of sleep deprivation on skin and the ageing process.
Lack of sleep can lead to the dreaded signs of ageing. When you lose sleep your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which mobilises sugar stores and causes your insulin to spike. When this happens, inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles.
Amazingly, chronic insomnia has been linked to skin disorders related to immune dysfunction, as well as inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to exacerbate both allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.
Not getting enough sleep results in poor water balance, leading to puffy bags and dark circles under your eyes, as well as dryness and more visible wrinkles. While you sleep, skin is able to recover moisture, while excess water in general in the body is processed for removal.
Collagen is the major structural component of your skin that protects against UV damage and bacterial infection, maintaining your skin’s elasticity, sealing in moisture, and preserving its youthful, healthy appearance. An increase in inflammatory cells in the body (caused by lack of sleep) can lead to the rapid breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid- the magical substance that gives skin its glow, bounce, and translucency.
It’s estimated that around 85% of women suffer from cellulite, and it’s up to around 95% in the over thirties. Cellulite is made up of free-floating fat cells which lie just beneath the skin’s surface.This orange peel skin becomes noticeable when the connective tissue that holds skin and muscle together, develops a layer of this dimply fat in between. This fat accumulates and expands, pushing up against the skin, giving cellulite its lumpy appearance. Yes- it’s as horrible as it sounds. Studies have shown that a constant lack of sleep can lead to an increase in the production of cortisol in the body at an alarming rate, which can cause free-floating fat cells to run riot. In turn, this causes an increase in body fat, which inevitably allows cellulite to make an appearance.
The lymphatic system which gets rid of the body’s toxic waste and helps to keep cellulite production in check, is said to be most active during sleep.
How to Sleep Better
- Eat one to two teaspoons of raw honey before bed. Unpasteurized honey contains an ideal ratio of fructose to glucose, which when combined with adequate amounts of water, means your body should have most of what it needs to perform its restorative and detoxing functions while you sleep.
- Turn off your mobile phone! No one is worth the saggy face and cellulite.
- Make sure your bedroom is well ventilated. Oxygen is essential for restful sleep.
- A couple of drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow has a knock-out effect. Research has shown that lavender increases slow-wave sleep, the very deep sleep in which the heartbeat slows and muscles relax naturally.
For more details on Susannah Makram’s personalised nutrition and osteopathic services, visit www.susannahmakram.com