Looking rested and fresh

Skin Care Matters

With Michelle Vernon

Sunday, July 01, 2018

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YOU may have heard someone at some point saying that they are going to bed early to get their “beauty rest” but is there anything behind these words?

Does getting adequate rest help us look better? The answer is yes. And, it goes beyond the obvious dark circles that show up under our eyes when we don't get enough sleep.

Why do people indulge in cosmetics? Partly to look less fatigued.

The objective of beauty is to appear rested and fresh. Observers can usually detect when someone is tired from changes in appearance such as drooping of the mouth, sallow skin, droopier eyelids, and redder eyes than rested people. Observers can also distinguish between sleep deprivation and fatigue by the look of glazed eyes. When researchers showed pictures of sleep-deprived people to observers, the observers rated them as appearing less healthy than rested people. They also rated the sleep-deprived people as looking more tired and less attractive.

What happens if you don't get your beauty sleep? It is not just lack of sleep that negatively affects body fat percentage and the risk of chronic disease — poor sleep quality does as well. Deep sleep also helps to negate the bad effects of cortisol.

The growth hormone naturally decreases with age and also with increased abdominal fat, leading to a vicious cycle of fatigue, excess stress hormone, and increased abdominal fat. It has also been found that sleep deprivation causes breaks in “skin barrier function and mucous membranes”.


Cell renewal

People typically have a surge in the growth hormone during deep sleep. This secretion of the growth hormone helps repair and rebuild body tissues, like muscle and bone. Many of the body's tissues also show increased cell production and slower breakdown of proteins during deep sleep.

Since proteins are the building blocks needed for cell growth and for repair of damage from factors like stress and ultraviolet rays, deep sleep is truly “beauty sleep”.

Increased growth hormone release is believed to be linked to the fasting state that the body enters during sleep. This suggests that the naturally occurring growth hormone also plays a big part in maintaining collagen matrix, and hence the appearance of youthfulness. Good and adequate sleep is important to the integrity of the skin.

In 2013 a group of physician-scientists at University Hospitals Case Medical Center conducted a clinical trial to prove that sleep quality impacts skin function and ageing. Their findings showed that poor sleepers had increased signs of skin ageing and slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet radiation. Given that our skin functions as a first line of defence against external stressors such as environmental toxins and sun-induced DNA damage, this was a significant revelation


Cortisol production

Lack of sleep can also increase our cortisol production. Cortisol levels start to rise approximately two to three hours after sleep onset and continue to rise into the early morning. The peak in cortisol is about 9:00 am, and as the day continues, levels decline gradually. With the onset of sleep, cortisol levels continue to decline until they hit the low point again. When one does not get enough sleep, they disrupt the decline part of the cycle, and elevated cortisol is experienced.

Why is this significant? Elevations in cortisol do two things. First, it signals your sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which leads to oily skin, acne and inflammation. The extra cortisol also causes a biochemical reaction that depletes your C and B vitamin stores.

Vitamin C is essential for collagen formation therefore skin becomes less elastic, forming more wrinkles over time. Additionally, the hormone melatonin is released during sleep and counteracts the effects of extra cortisol production. Less sleep time means less melatonin production and more damage to the skin's infrastr­ucture.


Tips for better sleep

Below are some tips to help ensure that when you do retire for the night, you get high-quality sleep.

Temperature: Maintain ideal sleeping temperature of 62-68°F. Too hot or cold disrupts sleep.

Schedule: Follow the same sleep schedule every day. Try to follow your body's cues in addition to the natural daylight, sleeping after dark and waking with the sunrise.

Electronics: Get electronics out of the bedroom; lights and electrom­agnetic fields can disrupt sleep cycles.

Snacks: Have a protein snack two hours before bed and no liquids two hours prior to bed, to avoid getting up to urinate during the night.

Magnesium: Try a magnesium soak before bed. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer and sleep aid, and it can be found in epsom salts. Add a few drops of lavender oil for a relaxing bedtime bath. If you don't like baths, you can try taking 100-300 mg of magnesium glycinate before bed.

Journal: Keep a journal next to your bed and transfer your to-do list and stressful thoughts to the journal to be dealt with the next day. Don't let these thoughts keep you awake.

Prioritise sleep

Make it a priority to take time for rest so you can provide your skin with adequate hours for regeneration and proper hormone signalling. Sleep is yet another pillar in the foundation of healthy skin, along with nutrition, topical products, and stress management.


Michelle Vernon is a phlebotomist medical aesthetician who operates the Body Studio Skincare, located at 20 Constant Spring Road, Mall Plaza, Kingston 10, and Fairview Shopping Centre, Montego Bay. She may be reached at telephone 908-0438 or 684-9800; IG @ bodystudioskincare; E-mail: bodystudioskincare@gmail.com; Website:www.bodystudioskincare.com.

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