This is your wake-up call—literally. For years, we have known that sleep deprivation is bad for our health, but a new study shows that lack of beauty sleep actually destroys brain cells. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that staying awake kills brain cells in mice, and researchers suggest it may do the same in humans. It’s the first study to show that sleep loss can lead to irreversible damage, meaning beauty sleep is necessary for your health.
So, what do we do? Well, 7-8 Hours of sleep sounds fantastic, but for many Americans it’s nearly impossible, especially for the overbooked ladies of today. Not only is time an issue, but getting our brains to shut off can be easier said than done. Stress and hectic schedules make it hard to get the zzz’s one needs. Overtime, cortisol elevations cause shifts in other hormones (such as DHEA, Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone), as well as depletion in neurotransmitter availability. This often leads to sleep cycle disturbances, which then causes more stress on the body and the cycle continues.
We need sleep almost just as much as we need oxygen and food. Recent studies show that sleep may “detox” the brain, flushing out waste products linked to Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Sleep deprivation wears down our normal capacity to deal with daily stress, making us more grumpy and actually wears us down emotionally and physically. Dark circles, premature wrinkles, and oh yeah, a not-so-sharp brain can’t be fixed with good vibes or a badass concealer.
One night alone of disrupted sleep lowers the threshold for “stress perception.” When you’re dead tired, or have had weeks of restless nights, just running an errand or getting stuck in traffic can feel more stressful than it actually is. Lack of sleep increases irritability, mood swings, and interpersonal relationship troubles (as you can imagine).
6 Ways to Get More Beauty Sleep
1. Wind down for 1 hour before bedtime. Ideally this would be unplugged, restorative time (e.g., relaxed reading, bath, or mediation practice). Something to induce the relaxation response. Sleep meditations are all over YouTube and can be listened to as you are lying in bed. This one is one of my favorites from Jody Whiteley.
2. Testing your neurotransmitters and cortisol levels is a natural way to balance your sleep cycle. It can be helpful to pinpoint what type of support will provide the fastest relief. Results show what supplementation is needed—and will help work to adjust your sleep cycle. Neurogistics, a company I have worked with for years, makes this easy with in home testing kits, and customized Brain Wellness Reports.
3. Don’t use electronics, even the Nook, an hour before bed. Break these bad habits. Avoid TV, phone, tablet, emails, Netflix, Hulu, video games in bed. The light, and the activity stimulates excitatory neurotransmitter activity. Your ego may be saying, “I need to watch TV or check my Instagram.” It’s totally lying to you. Try something more soothing instead.
4. Decrease caffeine gradually. I get it, coffee is my lifesaver in times of exhaustion. But it exacerbates anxiety and can create disturbances in your sleep patterns. Plus, it dehydrates you making those puffy eyes and fine lines easier to see. If you drink coffee, tea or soda and you have anxiety, consider getting off caffeine or stopping before 12PM.
If your aim is to get off the caffeine kick, do this gradually:
- Go from 2 coffees per day to 1.
- Go from having a large coffee to having a small.
- Go from a small coffee to a small half-caf.
- Go from half-caf to black tea.
- Go from black tea to green tea.
- Go from green tea to no caffeine. You can have herbal or decaf tea.
5. Stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. Even on the weekends, try and wake up within 90 minutes of when you do on weekdays.
6. Keep your bedroom dark and cold; even nightlights can keep you awake. Make sure your dreaming den is chilly, this helps you stay under the covers and hit hibernation mode.
Other ways to get your beauty sleep back on track involve taking control of your stress during the day. Delegate tasks, make time for mindfulness and meditation, and practice deep breathing. Grab the good pillows, comfy sheets and get ready for a good night’s sleep. Your beauty sleep matters, not just for your everyday appearance, but your beautiful brain and body’s overall health requires it.
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is The Guidance Girl. Her goal is to help YOU become the most confident person you know! Emily is an award-winning author Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, Educational Speaker, and parenting consultant. She travels around the country educating girls, women, and parents. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.