If you are getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night, it is more than likely affecting your appearance. Did you know that regular sleep deprivation can make the corners of your mouth droop, making you look sad? When we are tired, we also tend to furrow our brow and squint, which adds not only to the temporary tired, grumpy look, but also permanent wrinkles! I’m not saying you should never get botox, but what if getting more sleep could help you look fresher and younger for longer? And it’s free!
Have you been told “sleep is for the weak”?
OR, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”……..Well, lack of sleep can accomplish both weak and dead if you go on too long that way!
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep may vary from person to person, but studies do show that under 6 hours a night can have detrimental effects on your health and appearance. If you aren’t giving yourself enough time for all stages to cycle through 4 to 5 times throughout the night, then you will be missing out on the benefits to your health, appearance and emotional well being.
Stages of sleep and why they matter
There are basically 4 sleep stages that we enter in and out of throughout the night.
NREM 1 or dozing, usually lasts 1-5 mins long. This stage is the settling down time when you are getting your body and mind prepared for sleeping. It is when you can be easily awakened. Your body may twitch and your mind is still somewhat active.
NREM 2 usually 10-60 minutes long and is where your brain activity slows, eye movement stops and the body enters a more relaxed state. Our body temperature also drops and our heart rate and breathing slows. We spend about 1/2 of our sleep in this cycle.
NREM 3 or deep sleep. Also known as slow wave sleep (SWS) is about 20-40 min long but can decrease as the night goes on. In deep sleep, it is more difficult to be awakened and our body relaxes even more. Breathing and heart rates slow more as well as blood pressure drops.
In this stage, Blood flow is increased to the skin and muscles, toxins are released from the brain, the growth hormone HGH is released, and tissue growth is increased. Cell repair is also a big part of stage 3 sleep.
Lack of deep sleep increases our stress response and we know stress increases the production of cortisol, increases free radical cells, and weakens the body’s ability to repair itself, and this shows up in the appearance of aging. Sleep also helps keep inflammation at bay, and can reduce the stress-related, cellular damage to skin and throughout the body.
Along with the increase in blood flow, collagen production also is stimulated by this sleep cycle. This creates plumper skin and it can ward off some fine lines and wrinkles, as well as sagging skin. ( Side note….without the blood flow increase, blood can pool under the eyes giving us the puffy look and dark circles.) Collagen is the most common and abundant form of protein in the body. When collagen levels are high, the skin is soft, smooth, and firm. Collagen helps the skin cells renew and repair themselves. Collagen also helps keep the skin moist. This is why it is important to get the sleep needed for collagen production. You can add collagen supplements, (which I do) but the best way to maintain more youthful skin, is to get your sleep.
REM sleep or Rapid eye movement stage lasts only minutes in the beginning cycles and then can last over an hour as the night goes on. Muscles shut down except for the eyes and the ones that control breathing. In REM sleep our brains “download” information from the day. This is where things are stored in the memory as well as where most dreaming happens. If we don’t get enough REM sleep, it can stunt not only our memories, but our creativity, cognitive functions and emotional stability.
Getting 7-9 hours of sleep can lengthen your life, increase the quality of your life, keep you looking younger, help maintain a healthy weight, help maintain muscle, boost immune response, help us with emotional stability and over all help us to be the healthiest version of ourselves! Start by making small changes and you will begin to feel the difference and maybe even SEE the difference!
Look for part 2 coming soon, on sleep and metabolism/weight as well as good sleep hygiene.