We are well and truly into the new year now and those New Year’s resolutions are more than likely out of the window but there is one thing we all strive for continuously throughout the year – looking gorgeous.
But the reality is we all know all too well is that feeling of sluggishness, puffiness and non specific frustration that comes when we don’t get enough sleep. Just one night of sleep deprivation can really ruin your day but if you find yourself consistently struggling to get a good night’s sleep it can not only ruin your ability to look as glamorous as you deserve but over time it can seriously take a toll on your mental and physical wellbeing. It’s odd that so many of us agonise over our calorie intake and whether or not we’re getting enough exercise yet way too many of us are ambivalent when it comes to getting our daily quota of shuteye. So why is a good night’s sleep important in both beauty and health terms? What happens when you don’t get one and what you can do to make sure you sleep like a baby night after night and wake up feeling rejuvenated and looking gorgeous.
The importance of a good night’s sleep
Our bodies do a whole lot of interesting stuff when we sleep. First of all we rebuild and repair lean muscle mass, repairing any damage to muscles and connective tissue to prevent injury and allowing our muscles to burn energy more efficiently to keep our metabolism working effectively. If you find yourself struggling to hit your gym goals while struggling by on 4-6 hours sleep a night, now you know why. It’s also an opportunity for our brains to flush away damaging waste matter (via the glymphatic system) which is why we’re able to function cognitively after catching some z’s. It’s also a time when our brains regulate their production of hunger hormones enabling you to eat sensibly and control cravings throughout the day.
What happens when you don’t get it
If you don’t get a good night’s sleep you’re bound to suffer a range of ill effects. Hormone imbalances will make you more likely to be cranky, struggle to concentrate and crave the sugary, fatty and salty foods that you know will torpedo your fitness and weight loss goals. You’re more vulnerable to high blood pressure, stroke and even diabetes. The hormones that regulate your skin tone can become imbalanced leading to puffiness, blotchiness and dryness. Finally, of course, your blood vessels dilate leading to those infamous dark circles around your eyes. So if you want to keep your skincare regime to a minimum then you need to get some quality sleep for your face’s sake.
So, you see that failing to get the right amount of sleep (recommended 7-9 hours for most adults) can derail your health and beauty goals but that’s of no help to those who struggle to drift off at night. Avoid sleeping pills as these will not give you the quality of sleep you need (and they can have some nasty side effects). Instead, look at some lifestyle changes that can help you sleep the sleep of the just every single night…
Change your diet
If you’re a habitual snacker who frequents the vending machine at work, you’re likely consuming a lot of the processed foods that can prevent good quality sleep. All of the convenient snack foods need to go. By all means snack but snack on fresh and dried fruits and veggies and home made goodies. Make sure your daily diet contains any of these foods which have natural compounds like magnesium and vitamin B6 to help you drift off at night;
- Sweet potato
- Peanut butter
Change your bed
If you spend hours thrashing around at night struggling to get to sleep at night, it could be that your mattress needs to go. A mattress is one area in which you absolutely should not be a penny pincher. If you’ve had the same cheap cage sprung mattress since you were a teenager, it’s little wonder your sleep is often difficult and interrupted. It’s a well known story out there in the media that you should change your mattress every years, so ask yourself ‘how long have I had this mattress?’ and if the answer is don’t know or too long then get yourself down the shops for a night of bliss! If you’re stuck on what to look for then check out this guide to how to buy a pocket spring mattress.
Cut down on the caffeine
We all turn to a delicious hot cup of tea or coffee when we feel that we need a hug in the mug. But hot drinks have become such an endemic part of our lifestyle that we can often overlook just how addictive caffeine is. Switch to decaf as much as possible or try a fruit or sleep tea to help you relax and drift to a better nights sleep. My personal favourites are We are Tea Peppermint Leaf or Whittard Sleepy Tea*.