Most members of our Generation X, Y and Next are busy bees flitting from one activity to another, trying to fit a million things into the day and night. In the constant race to achieve more, the age-old "early to bed and early to rise" proverb has been conveniently remixed to "late to bed and early to rise".
These extended waking hours take their toll first on the skin. How many times does your mirror show you dark under-eye circles and puffy, bloodshot eyes? Dull, pallid and gaunt skin? The crow's feet and laugh lines? How many times do friends and colleagues mistake you to be much older than your actual age?
What the mirror shows does not necessitate a rush to the nearest cosmetics store to splurge on those jars and bottles of skin repair and age-miracle lotions and creams and, anti-oxidants and night-creams. Please consider first, this cheap and easily available remedy for your beauty problems. It's a five-letter word called sleep - it is essential, not just for your overall health but also for your looks.
Sleep improves health
We need sleep and a proper amount of it each night; for the simple reason that the body repairs itself in the time that we are in dreamland. Extensive research over many years has proved that insufficient sleep is a major contributor to reduced life spans and the increasing incidence of lifestyle diseases like obesity, hypertension, stress, high cholesterol, diabetes, depressed immunity, hormonal imbalances, and depression. Even a couple of days of inadequate sleep are enough to decrease concentration, reduce mental and physical alertness and make the person irritable. Prolonged periods of not getting enough sleep are associated with greater risk of heart attacks, strokes, and breast and colon cancer.
Sleep improves looks
In fact, sleep is also critical to looking good - it is during our slumber time that the body repairs the daily damage caused to the skin by stress, ultraviolet rays and other detrimental exposures to dust and pollution. Sleep is when the body produces more proteins, which are the cell's building blocks. Enhanced protein production ensures proper rejuvenation and revamping of the tissues and cells, which in turn provides vital regeneration and repair to the skin. So, not sleeping well is bound to show up on the face: dark under-eye circles, swollen, red eyes, sagging, dull and sallow skin, and early onset of wrinkles, crow's feet and laugh lines. And fat, the bugbear of every woman is a natural consequence of insufficient sleep. Studies closely connect sleep with obesity: sleep less and the release of important appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin gets disrupted, causing weight gain.
So, everything which granny dearest said about sleeping properly was right after all. And that also explains the origins of the term beauty sleep. The ill-effects of inadequate sleep show up almost immediately on our looks - sleep well and look healthy, don't sleep well and the face resembles an animal farm with raccoon eyes and crow's feet. Models, actors and those whose face is their fortune unanimously agree on the power of beauty sleep. Model Claudia Schiffer claims that she just cannot do without her 12 hours of beauty sleep. While 12 hours may be an unaffordable luxury for the modern, multitasking woman, 7-8 hours is the recommended average snooze time.
Getting enough good sleep
Of course, getting enough sleep is easier said than done. It is a tough trade-off between juggling all those urgent and important activities and getting proper sleep - one of the two needs to be sacrificed and the guillotine is most likely to fall on sleep. Power naps come handy here. A power nap is a short period of sleep, and is guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed. Set an alarm for between 15-25 minutes. Sleep for around 20 minutes and you are sure to feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Sleeping for longer may interfere with your night-time sleep.
The quality of the sleep is very important too. Even eight hours of sleep is not enough for refreshment and relaxation if the sleep is disturbed. Disturbed sleep is an expected byproduct of the daily stress of living. Here's how to ensure good, deep sleep.
- Avoid rigorous physical activity or exercise around 3-4 hours before the scheduled sleeping time.
- Regulate sleep and wake up times so that the body gets conditioned to sleeping at a particular time.
- Try having warm milk before sleeping to relax the body. A warm shower and listening to soothing music also help.
- Ideally, there should be a gap of at least 2-3 hours between dinner and bedtime for proper digestion. Also, avoid drinking too much water before sleeping, to minimise frequent visits to the toilet, and disturbed sleep.
- Ensuring the room is sufficiently dark and noise-free is important.
- The bedroom must not be used for any other activity such as watching TV or eating.
- Proper bed and pillows are absolutely essential. The bed and pillows should be firm and neither too fluffy nor too hard. The pillow should provide proper cushioning for the neck and should be at a comfortable height.
Get your youthful, clear skin back
While you sleep and let Mother Nature repair your skin by the best beauty treatment there is, additional help is always welcome.
- A face massage works wonders by toning the skin and boosting blood circulation.
- Wet cotton pads, cucumber slices, potato slices, wet tea bags are great to ward off the evil eye, err... I mean the dark circles under the eyes.
- Egg white is a good skin tightener and helps get rid of the puffy eyes. Apply all over the face and the under eye area, wash when dry.
- Drink lots of water to hydrate the skin.
- For bloodshot eyes, good lubricating eye drops should help. Consult your doctor for an appropriate brand. Rose water helps, so does splashing the face with cold water for 3-4 minutes.
Make beauty sleep an integral part of your vanity case. Given your hectic schedule, it probably is not that easy, but the effort is well-worth it. After all, what have you got to lose except those redundant years from your face?
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