The age-old saying of getting your “beauty rest” may have more to it than meets the eye. In fact, we now know that getting enough sleep is scientifically sound advice. Decades of research show that sleep is essential for many aspects of our health, such as our metabolism, immune system, memory, cognition, and learning. These health benefits have led scientists and doctors to explore the role of sleep in skin health. Since some of this research is very new, much is still unknown about how sleep affects our skin. However, preliminary studies provide some interesting insights into how our skin reacts to different sleep patterns.
As of now, what scientists and clinicians do know is that those with chronic skin disorders, such a psoriasis and atopic dermatitis (commonly known as eczema) experience disordered sleep patterns. Some believe that disordered sleep patterns arise due to the itching and scratching episodes experienced with these conditions. While others hold that those with these chronic skin inflammation experience excess heat loss through the skin, which may disrupt sleep.
While more studies can help us better understand the relationship between sleep and skin health, it remains clear that sleep is beneficial to us. This means our sleep hygiene, or ways of “cleaning up” our sleep routines, are highly important. Below, I identify eleven ways to improve sleep quality and enhance your overall rest for a happier, healthier you!
11 Sleep Hygiene Tips
- Go to bed at the same time each night: For optimum health, your body needs to get in sync with its natural circadian rhythm. Going to sleep at the same time each night can help by attuning your body to that circadian cycle and allowing for more restful sleep.
- Wake at the same time each morning: Just like Tip #1, this helps the body align with the sleep-wake hormone cycles and can help to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
- Wake up to natural light, if possible: Our bodies expect to wake up to sunlight in the mornings. If your bedroom has windows exposed to the outside, consider opening the curtain slightly before bed to allow the natural light to pour in the next morning.
- Eliminate all distractions: To help you fall asleep on time, try to reduce any extraneous noise and distractions for at least 30 minutes before bed. This includes turning off the TV, computer, or tablet, putting down your smartphone, and dimming the lights.
- Avoid eating before sleep: Try to avoid eating or drinking excessive fluids, especially sugary foods and drinks, for at least an hour before you hit the hay. Consuming large quantities of food or drink late in the day will stimulate the metabolism at a time when the body expects it to shut down.
- Incorporate mindfulness or breathing practices: To help calm your body and mind before bed, try adding 5 minutes of mindfulness breathing or meditation you’re your bedtime routine. Do the same first thing in the morning to wake up slow and ease your way into the day!
- Avoid stimulants too late in the day: Avoiding caffeine or other stimulating substances, including certain herbal products, can help you to relax in the evenings before bed. A good time to stop the stimulants is after lunchtime or by mid-afternoon (at latest).
- Make your bedroom as restful as possible: Create a supportive environment for sleep by making your bedroom as restful as possible. Try removing your TV or computers, and even your phone if necessary. Create some mood lighting with candles or dimmed lights, and create a calming, natural environment by keeping a few plants in your room. When picking colors for your bedroom décor, stick to neutral, calming colors. Eliminate as much clutter as possible and maintain an organized space.
- Isolate Bedroom activities to sleep and intimacy: This point is crucial to maintaining the right energy and ambiance in your bedroom. Conducting busy work or activities that may cause stress will pull you away from that restful place.
- Exercise regularly: To help balance your energy, incorporate regular exercise into your day. Exercise will help the body burn off excess cortisol, which helps regulate our stress and hormone cycles.
- Drink sedating teas: Hot tea can be very soothing and can help to relax your body before bed. Drinking teas such as chamomile, lavender, valerian, hops, or California poppy can help with sleep due to their relaxant and sedative qualities.