As most of us have heard over and over again almost to the point of it becoming modern-day folklore – getting beauty sleep is an absolute must. The question is why? Well, if you can remember back to the days of Health Class 101, sleep is fundamental because that’s when your body has a chance to reboot and replenish. In order to maximize the benefits of beauty sleep, there are several things that can be done in preparation during your pre-bed routine.
UNDERSTANDING THE FIVE STAGES OF SLEEP
As you sleep your body goes through a full 5 stage sleep cycle on repeat. The full cycle takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes, with most adults spending nearly half of their sleep time in Stage 2, and about 20% in REM.
During this stage you will drift in and out of sleep and it may feel like your daydreaming. As it’s easy to be woken up – it’s key to limit distractions (light, sound, etc) as a preventative measure. Don’t be alarmed if you feel sensations like falling followed by strong muscle contractions – it’s actually completely normal.
Lasting about 20 minutes, this stage is when your heart-rate slows down and your body temperature starts to drops.
A transitional period between light and very deep sleep, where extremely slow brain waves (known as “delta waves”) begin to develop.
Part of the deep sleep or “delta sleep” cycle, this stage is when your body is relaxed enough so most disturbances won’t wake you up and typically lasts around 30 minutes.
During REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep our muscles may be relaxed but our brain is definitely active hence the numerous dreams. Although the first cycle of REM sleep generally lasts about 10 minutes, as the night progresses, the time spent within this stage increases with the final one eventually lasting around an hour.
Research has indicated that 7 is the magic number when it comes to the number of hours you should sleep every night to maximize rejuvenation and daytime productivity. By comparing irregular sleepers to those who achieved a solid 7 hours a night, the above study also links good quality sleep to combatting to the signs of aging. Solid sleepers proved to show greater skin barrier recovery to distress, UV damage, and environmental factors. Other notable anti-aging benefits include the replenishment of epidermal moisture, increasing the skin’s hydration levels as well as boosted levels of melatonin, resulting in advanced free radical protection. If you’re having a hard time trying to sleep and you’d like to pass on the prescription medications, read on.
SLEEP TEA AND ITS BENEFITS
If you’re having trouble sleeping try drinking special caffeine-free teas made from herbal blends a few hours before bedtime. Although large-scale scientific research may be limited, below are some of the herbs that have been used in traditional remedies to aid quality of sleep.
Provides a mild sedative effect to the body and has been linked to boosting levels of Glycine, an enzyme found in the body, that helps calm nerves.
Through its anti-stress properties, Lavender can help the mind detach from hectic thoughts that keep it racing.
Through its ability to relax tense muscles, Peppermint helps sooth the digestive tract, heartburn as well as indigestion in general.
ST, JOHN’S WART
Commonly used as an anti-depressant, St. John’s Wart is effective when it comes to targeting the anxiety and worry that takes over as we try to sleep.
By increasing your brain’s GABA (a neurotransmitter) levels Valerian helps reduce neuron activity resulting in a reduction in the time it takes to sleep.
It must be noted that taking herbs as supplements may cause side effects, so make sure to do your research and consult a medical professional before consuming to be on the safe side.
Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra Herbal Tea ($2.16)
A fan favorite, this wellness tea contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and combines the likes of Chamomile, Spearmint as well as Valerian in order to help achieve a good night’s sleep.
Yogi Teas Bedtime ($7.04)
Through a blend of herbs including St. John’s Wart, Chamomile, and Lavender with spices like Cardamon, as well as Cinnamon this comforting tea helps the body to relax.
THE MAGIC OF AROMATHERAPY
If you’re not keen on drinking tea or would like a more sensory form of relaxation, it’s worth it to explore aromatherapy. Research indicates oils like Chamomile and Lavender help reduce anxiety and help calm the body. If you’re like us, sometimes you may be hesitant about smelling like a perfume shop. Fear not – investing in a diffuser may solve the problem without impacting the benefits.
Prime Natural Good Night Blend ($8.49)
Made up of a blend including lavender, sage, and chamomile, this highly rated essential oil makes for the perfect relaxation aid. Just add 4-5 drops to a diffuser and let the soothing benefits begin.
Radha Beauty Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser ($17.95)
This number 1 Amazon bestseller is chock full of great benefits for a reasonable price. Adjust the color of light depending on your mood and if you find yourself getting disturbed by it just turn it off. As it’s cool mist, there is less risk of oil degradation when compared to hot mist diffusers.
Make sure you do your research as well as consult a professional about correct essential oil dilution ratios!
TURN DOWN THE LIGHTS
Studies indicate that darkness when trying to sleep helps us reach maximum levels of melatonin (important for REM sleep) and prevents sleep disruption. Make sure to shut down the laptop, mobile phones, and any other sensory tech that you may have on as the blue light, however small it may be that these devices emanate may affect how you sleep.
Bucky 40 Blinks Sleep Mask ($12.95)
With over 20 styles this sleep mask provides complete coverage from light and has been designed with both comfort and design in mind. Not only is the molded foam light but the built-in cavities allow for the eyes to open up completely when being worn and the velcro at the back helps to create the perfect fit preventing pressure on the ears.
Finding the proper nightly cleansing routine that removes build-up (dirt, oil, products) is just as important as protecting your skin during the day from the onslaught of environmental factors (pollution, sunlight, etc) that it faces. It’s important to note, that it’s not only about how you cleanse (not pulling and scrubbing) but also about finding the right type of anti-aging cleanser (isn’t harsh nor irritating) that suits your skin type.
REMOVE MAKEUP (PRE-CLEANSE)
Although it may be the last thing you’d like to do after a big night out leaving your makeup on while you sleep often results in clogged pores and dehydrated skin. Over time if this becomes a regular habit it may lead to the development of signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. Check out our article that provides a recipe for a simple DIY oil-based makeup remover to easily take off the day if you’re not interested in store-bought solutions.
First Aid Beauty Milk Oil Conditioning Cleanser ($25.50)
Best for: Normal to dry & sensitive skin that isn’t prone to break-outs
This emulsifying milky cleansing oil combines multiple plant oils including Avocado, Coconut, Jojoba, and Meadow-Foam to leave skin clean without being over-dry. In order to calm, the formula also includes antioxidants like Licorice Root Extract and Green Tea.
In order to maximize the penetration of anti-aging ingredients from skincare products you use following your pre-cleanse, a secondary wash may be necessary. The role of an effective nightly anti-aging cleansing routine not only removes the impurities that were discussed above but also the dead skin-cells that gather on the epidermis, the top layers of skin that impede the proper absorption of anti-aging ingredients as well as dull the complexion.
Yes To Cucumbers Gentle Milk Cleanser ($7.99)
Best for: Normal to dry skin
With close to 100% natural ingredients this cost-effective anti-aging cleanser combines the power of Cucumber with Green Tea in order to remove impurities without irritating the skin. Although the formula includes a minimal level of fragrance it should not be a problem for most skin types.
Be sure to check out our guide if you’re interested in discovering more about the most effective anti-aging cleansers including their benefits and how they work.
Serums are often formulated with ingredients that not only penetrate the skin quickly as well as effectively but also provide light to medium levels of moisture. Below are a few key ingredients to use in your night-time anti-aging skincare routine that combat the signs of aging:
One of the most popular exfoliants, Glycolic Acid helps increase cell turnover in the Epidermis, the surface layers of the skin, resulting in a plumper and smoother complexion.
Especially great for those with sensitive skin, Lactic Acid helps to brighten uneven skin tone and hydrate.
A key antioxidant ingredient, Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that boosts collagen production and combats multiple signs of aging including fine lines and wrinkles as well as sun damage.
Check out our guide if you’re interested in discovering more about how Retinol benefits the skin.
Not only does Niacinamide help maintain moisture levels, it also helps fade discoloration and increases fatty acid levels.
Alpha Intensive Rejuvenating Serum ($18.04)
With over 14% Glycolic Acid this fragrance-free serum provides potent exfoliating power abilities. Plant extracts like Green Tea and Chamomile help balance irritation by calming and soothing.
Skin Medica 1% Retinol Complex Fluid ($50.61)
Through a combination of a high level of Retinol (1%), Niacinamide, as well as Peptides to increase hydration levels, this formula targets multiple signs of aging. The serum also comes in the alternative strengths of 0.25% and 0.5% for those whose skin may not be able to handle the powerful levels of rejuvenating ingredients.
Read our in-depth guide if you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of anti-aging serums and for more recommended products.
If you’re looking for more advanced anti-aging results, integrating retinoic acid (another form of vitamin A commonly known by the brand name Retin-A or Renova) into your evening routine can greatly benefit your skin. The cream is an anti-aging miracle worker, diminishing fine lines and wrinkles as well as brown spots and helps unclog pores, boosting collagen, and speed up cell turnover. Find out how Retin-A can help you achieve younger looking skin through our in-depth review.
We believe that balance is key, and that’s why it’s so important to let your skin breathe at night in order to minimize interference with this regenerative process. Granted this may be true and for many people, night cream may not be necessary but for skin-types, an extra moisture boost may be necessary. For those of you who need it we suggest, a water-based night cream that doesn’t have too many heavy occlusive ingredients (oils, etc). Read our article, if you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of an effective anti-aging night cream.
Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer ($32)
Best For: Normal to dry skin
This cost-effective lotion combines numerous antioxidants including, Licorice Root, Green Tea as well as Pomegranate Extract with Retinol to provide advanced anti-aging results. In order to minimize irritation the formula avoids fragrance and to maintain skin’s hydration levels includes ingredients like Ceramides and Squalane.
How you sleep is just as important as what you put on your face as you sleep. Sleep positions are key when it comes to anti-aging. Many theories show that sleeping on your back is the absolute best position to help avoid any bacteria contact from your pillow and prevent pressing your face which leads to signs of aging.
HOW SLEEP WRINKLES FORM
Though it may sound a little crazy, wrinkles may form from the way you sleep as much as from frowning, laughing, and other expressions. Instead of being caused by muscle movement, like expression wrinkles, sleep wrinkles are a result of the compression from pressing your face against the pillow while you sleep. Over time this cause lines and deep wrinkles that may magically disappear upon waking when you’re young, but if you continue to sleep in the same position, these lines may become permanent as you grow older.
The material of your pillowcase and shape of your pillow are very important when it comes to preventative anti-aging as well.
Having a breathable fabric pillowcase is key. Although we may try to sleep on our backs the whole night, the reality is that we are bound to move around at some point. Silk pillowcases are definitely ideal, as they won’t snag or absorb moisture and oil, leaving your skin hydrated.
Spasilk Facial Beauty Pillowcase ($19.50)
Made from 100% pure silk, this pillowcase comes in a variety of colors and is reasonably priced for the quality. It comes in a standard/queen size fit and is machine washable, allowing it to be easily incorporated into most lifestyles.
Memory foam is ideal when it comes to avoiding facial compression, as it molds to the structure of your face.
MyFace Pillow ($59.99)
Train your body to sleep on your back, limit surface facial contact and pressure without the limitations of sleep movement with this innovative pillow.
SLEEPING WITH A HUMIDIFIER
In drier climates or during winter, soothing itchy skin and throats that lead to interrupted sleep, as well as taking preventative measures against the effects of dry air on the skin, maintaining humidity levels are a must.
Venta Airwasher 2-in-1 L25 ($299)
Although this humidifier is a little on the pricey side, it happens to do a great job on cleaning air of dust as well as increasing humidity levels for rooms up to 400 square feet. The device is pretty low maintenance, only requiring a good cleaning twice per year and doesn’t use filters like many other ones on the market. There are 2 alternative sizes: a 200 square foot model for smaller spaces or an 800 square foot model for larger ones.
If you’re interested in learning more, read our in-depth overview of the anti-aging benefits of investing in a humidifier that covers alternative models as well as ideal humidity rates.
A FINAL TOAST TO SWEET DREAMS
A few tweaks to some bedtime habits can go a long way in terms of getting true blue beauty sleep. The great thing about making these changes is that they often have benefits that go beyond skin deep and can help lead to a healthier and more productive life overall.