PART 1: WHY IS SLEEP IMPORTANT FOR OUR APPEARANCE?
True sleep and rest are integral parts of a healthy lifestyle; only in sleep do our bodies truly heal and rejuvenate. During the bliss of slumber we are actively regenerating our tissues, normalising hormone levels, restoring depleted energy reserves, improving our mood and especially our appearance, enabling us to wake looking refreshed. There is nothing like the facial radiance that follows a night of nourishing sleep to draw the comment “You look so well, have you been on holidays?”
Experiencing disrupted sleep or altered sleep cycles has a profound effect on our mental, emotional and physical health, especially if the disturbance becomes prolonged over many years. In fact, it shortens our life expectancy!
Fortunately, if sleep problems affect you, there are natural solutions to help you rediscover the pleasure of slipping into deep and refreshing slumber – and making a habit of it as well!
How much sleep do we need? Why?
Evidence is now building for the idea that our brain’s workload determines how much deep sleep our brains need, perhaps even with harder-working areas showing different sleep states to those that had a more leisurely day. But there is another prominent group of theorists who refuse to accept that sleep is merely a time for rest and recuperation. They suggest the role of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is in information processing, categorising
and storing memories, or even thinking creatively.
The natural rhythms of our internal organs
The Chinese physicians charted the 24-hour daily clock and divided it into two-hour segments, each said to be the peak activity time for a particular organ and its energy meridian (see “Blooming”, Cooke 1999). How this affects sleep is that if you have an overworked or weakened organ your sleep may be disturbed at that particular time. For instance, gall bladder attacks are commonly noted to occur between 11pm and 1am, whilst a “grumpy liver” processing excessive toxins may keep you awake between 1am and 3am. Treating the particular organ indicated by the clock can restore healthy sleep patterns.
The causes of insomnia
Insomnia may have no apparent cause in about half of sufferers. It can be caused by pain, stress, anxiety, excitement, overeating before bed, caffeine, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor bedding or room temperature or ventilation. International travel and crossing time zones producing jet lag is a common cause of disturbed sleep rhythms in today’s life. Individuals with insomnia frequently attribute their sleep problems to work-related stress or job dissatisfaction and factors such as shift work.
How does insomnia affect our beauty?
Inadequate or shallow sleep, waking unrefreshed, feeling overtired and exhausted, causes a drained, greyish complexion due to poor capillary blood supply to the facial tissues. Dehydration adds to the lack of plump skin tone which produces the look of health and wellness. Lack of exercise also causes poor complexion colour, due to the circulating dominance of deoxygenated blood, which has a brownish colour, unlike bright red oxygenated blood. Physical inactivity compounds poor sleep habits, further reducing skin colour and radiance.
Not having enough time overnight to carry out tissue repair leaves the skin deprived of essential nutrients for restoration work, leading to poor skin tone and elasticity (low protein metabolism). Delayed uptake of nutrients
with reduced hours of sleep and rest is more likely cause skin conditions such as dermatitis, acne and eczema to erupt, especially with vitamin, mineral and antioxidant depletion.
[note color=”#f2f2f2″]Conditions or situations that commonly lead to insomnia include:
- Anxiety states, excessive mental stimulation
- Substance abuse—caffeine, alcohol, recreational drugs, long-term sedative use, stimulants; nicotine – quitting smoking can cause transient insomnia
- Disruption of circadian rhythms—shift work; travel across time zones; visual loss
- Menopause—insomnia affects 30% to 40% of menopausal women; may be due to hot flushes and night sweats, anxiety, and/or change in progesterone levels
- Hormonal fluctuations in menstrual cycle—progesterone promotes sleep
- Advanced age—the biological changes of aging, existence of underlying medical conditions, increased sensitivity to environmental factors, many interfere with sleep function, neurologic disorders that may cause confusion and disorientation, increased likelihood of depression, anxiety, and grief
- Medical conditions—gastroesophageal reflux disease, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, heart disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obstructive sleep apnea
- Psychiatric and neurologic disorders—anxiety neurosis, depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Environmental disturbances—noise disruption (e.g. snoring partners, noisy pets)
- Excessive computer work, especially late at night
- Delayed sleep phase