Science Behind Beauty Sleep

In pursuit of boundless beauty, every Jessica, Jennifer and Gwen in Hollywood dutifully touts her matchless habits, products and tips for looking so effortlessly ageless on the red carpet. Impeccable genes and infinite resources aside, turns out it might be as easy as it looks, thanks to one simple factor: the undeniable science behind your nighttime habits. Yes, it’s called beauty sleep for a reason.

Step away from the light

For years, we’ve all been told that our bedtime rituals have everything to do with sleep quality and truly, taking the time to mindfully wind down each night does make a difference. While chamomile tea and bubble baths are lovely, there’s one nighttime ritual that can make or break your sleep: exposure to light. Our circadian rhythms, or internal clocks, are fine-tuned to coincide with the rise and fall of the sun. Scrolling through Facebook on your iPad in bed throws this totally out of sync, thanks to the devices’ blue light that has been found to suppress melatonin a hormone that induces sleepiness. 

Pick the right position

Recently, scientists determined that our brains actually use sleep to sweep out metabolic waste. This news is huge, not only because scientists may now understand why we sleep, but also because it means that certain sleeping positions can have serious effects on your long-term health. Sleeping on your side can actually help the brain in this housekeeping process of clearing out detritus and, in the long run, can possibly prevent the buildup of plaque that’s commonly seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Let your skin repair overnight

Sleep is clearly an important time for our brains to discard some waste, but it’s also a critical time for our skin to repair itself from the day’s environmental stressors, says Weiser. “Lack of sleep leads to puffiness and dark under-eye circles, dryness and an exaggerated appearance of wrinkles with accelerated signs of aging.” To pile on top of that, the dermatologist says poor sleep can increase cortisol production, which leads to inflammation a key trigger of skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis. It’s important to make the most of this repairing time, so opt for high-quality, multitasking products that are made up of active ingredients with small molecules that can penetrate deeper into the skin’s layers.

Learn the art of timing

There’s a reason the shrill beep of that 6 a.m. alarm clock is so jarring: being yanked out of a deep slumber when you’re in the midst of an REM cycle can leave you groggy, startled and disoriented all at once an effect that can last for hours. But don’t worry, because there’s an app for that. Smartphone apps like Sleep Cycle and Sleep Time use your phone’s accelerometer to track your movements in bed, waking you at your lightest sleep stage. These apps also provide handy charts that analyze your sleep patterns over the course of the night, telling you how deeply you’ve slept and if you’ve woken up for any periods of time.

Maybe consider skipping the late-afternoon latte

You get a poor night’s sleep, so you require more coffee the next day logical, right? While that afternoon espresso may seem like a godsend at 4 p.m. its effects can linger for hours later. One study showed that caffeine consumed six hours before bedtime reduced subjects’ total nightly sleep by more than one hour though most weren’t aware of the loss. Since the exact amount of time that caffeine stays in your system varies from person to person, plan your afternoon coffee break accordingly and give yourself a reasonable cutoff time each day. Then stick to it.

 

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