The Anti-Ageing Power of Sleep

The positive effects of sleep on our bodies and minds are huge — and scientists are discovering new benefits all the time.

A study by the Australian Sleep Health Foundation found that more than 1.5 million Australian adults (that’s a staggering 9% of the population) suffer from sleep disorders. And this isn’t good, because getting enough good quality sleep is crucial for our physical and mental health.

To help motivate you to take care of your sleep routine and strive for solid hours of Zzz’s every night, I wanted to share a little known, but clinically proven, discovery:

Getting enough sleep improves the health and appearance of your skin, and reduces the effects of ageing.

A clinical study commissioned by beauty giant Estée Lauder found that the quality and duration of a person’s sleep has an impact on the skin’s function, and its visible signs of ageing.

People who don’t sleep well, or who don’t sleep for long enough, showed increased signs of ageing including wrinkles and blemishes. Their skin also took longer to recover from stressors in their environment, such as UV radiation or chemicals passing through the skin barrier.

In contrast, those who sleep well and have a regular sleep routine are more likely to have healthy skin that bounces back quickly from environmental stressors.

If you’re noticing lots of new wrinkles, or your skin feels more sensitive than it used to be, take a look at your sleep habits.

Signs that you’re not sleeping enough could include:

  • Feeling very tired (of course!) or fatigued
  • Being irritable, moody, or very low
  • Frequent yawning
  • Poor memory, or difficulty concentrating and learning new concepts or skills
  • Lack of motivation
  • Increased appetite or cravings for high-carb, high-sugar foods
  • Being clumsy
  • Low or reduced sex drive

But a few simple lifestyle changes could drastically improve your sleep — and your skin.

The Sleep Foundation has studied sleep habits and sleep quality in detail. It recommends that establishing a regular evening routine will help to improve your sleep, and prevent unnecessary waking during the night.

Start building your own sleep routine with five tips:

  1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. A consistent sleep schedule helps your body to establish a rhythm, so it’ll be easier for you to fall asleep quickly and then stay asleep.
  2. Switch off from all screens at least one hour before bed every night. The light from screens affects your body’s ability to produce the relaxing hormones you need to feel sleepy; and the content we consume on-screen is usually highly stimulating, too.
  3. Opt for relaxing activities in the evening. Try to build simple, relaxing elements into your evenings — such as reading, having a bath, chatting with a family member, or enjoying a hot cup of herbal tea.
  4. Make your bedroom a place of relaxation and comfort. Ensure that you feel calm when you go in there — minimise mess, get a comfortable mattress and pillows, and paint your bedroom with colours that inspire a peaceful mind.
  5. Don’t force it. If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there beating yourself up about it. Get up and go into another room for 15 minutes, where you can engage in a relaxing activity or sit quietly in meditation. Then try again.


Sleep well, friends!

Beauty Sleep and Screen Time

OK, so you know that sleep is important. You’ve heard that good sleep improves your memory, concentration, and motivation. It makes you healthier, helps you lose weight or get fit, reduces anxiety and increases positive hormones in your body. It protects against depression and other mental illness — and it even makes your skin look younger.

You’re in. You want to sleep better and look after your health.

But did you know that one of the biggest challenges for good quality sleep in our modern lives are those things that we carry with us everywhere we go…our screens?

Your phone, tablet, laptop, and even your TV all reduce your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.

Why do screens affect sleep so much?

Research published by the American National Sleep Foundation shows that screen time before bed has a number of worrying effects:

  • it delays your internal body clock, or your circadian rhythm, so your body doesn’t know it’s time for sleep and you don’t get natural feelings of sleepiness.
  • it suppresses the release of hormones that are vital for getting sleepy and falling asleep. In particular, it reduces the release of melatonin, a vital hormone for creating physiological feelings of sleepiness.
  • the blue light emitted by screens increases your body’s alertness, making you feel awake or wired.
  • the content you’re exposed to via your screens stimulates your brain — making your mind race, and triggering anxiety in those who are susceptible to it.

So the more you look at electronic devices in the evening, the more likely that you won’t fall asleep easily, or will wake up unnecessarily during the night. This is no big deal for one night, or even a few nights in a row; but over time, the impact of regular evening screen exposure can creative chronic sleep disorders.

So, what to do?

Lots of us look for a solution to the negative effects of evening screen time that will allow us to keep on using our devices. We try fitting coloured filters on our screens, or apps that reduce blue light emission.

But the reality is that the only solution is the one that is healthiest for you: turn off your screens for at least one hour before bed, and more if possible.

Opt for reading a physical book instead, or practicing a gentle stretching routine, or simply talking face-to-face with a housemate, partner, or relative. The final hours of the day are the perfect time to ground yourself in your body and arrive calmly in the present moment. Switch of, let go of those digital demands that weigh on your life, and be right here, right now.

You’ll fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply. And you’ll wake up feeling refreshed, energised, and ready to take on the challenges of a new day.