Pssst…we have a secret to share with you…your very own fountain of youth can be found in your bedroom.
Sleep is your body’s natural repair and restoration mechanism. It’s here that you’ll find healing powers for your mind, body, soul, and yes, even your skin.
If you want to channel Ponce de Léon, make sure you’re getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night. Currently, American adults are averaging 6.5 hours per night.
The extraordinary results of a good night’s sleep do much more than simply prevent you from feeling haggard, foggy and irritable. It has the potential to stave off chronic diseases and mental health issues.
Sleep scientists report that after 20 hours of being awake, we are as impaired as we would be if we were legally drunk. Drowsy driving kills more people on the roads than alcohol or drugs combined. Turns out, the motto many of us learned to live by in the 1980’s, “Sleep when your dead”, could actually be lethal.
Stress Management and Skin Health
We now know that managing stress is important. Meditating and focusing on breathing are excellent avenues to keep calm and carry on. But it’s important not to overlook the impact of sleep on stress levels.
One of the most widely talked about stress hormones, cortisol, naturally drops at night. But when your sleep cycle is disrupted, cortisol levels remain high. Excessively high cortisol can damage skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin supple, smooth and elastic. Maintaining healthy cortisol levels allows the skin to heal itself and prevents premature aging.
Another hormone worthy of mention is human growth hormone. When you’re young, human growth hormone does exactly what it sounds like it should do—it promotes growth. Once you’ve reached adulthood it’s still released but its functions shift to increasing muscle mass, thickening skin, and strengthening bones. This is potent stuff but insufficient sleep prevents it from releasing at optimal doses and you don’t get as much as you need.
Let’s Talk About Weight
A 2004 study showed that people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours. This phenomenon is associated with a disruption in hormone regulation.
The hormones leptin and ghrelin are key players in controlling weight and appetite. Leptin tells the brain, “I’m full” and ghrelin tells the brain, “I’m hungry.” After just one poor night’s sleep, leptin gets suppressed so you don’t know when to stop eating and ghrelin ramps up causing the body/mind to continue thinking it’s still hungry and needs to eat more. This deregulation also contributes to craving salty, fatty and sweet foods.
Sleeping only four to five hours a night can cause you to eat an extra 200-300 calories during the day. Doing this consistently, can add a whopping 70,000 each year resulting in a potential 10-15 pounds of weight gain. This awareness has prompted ongoing research looking at the link between sleep, diet programs, and obesity.
When it comes to your mental well being, the power of sleep is not to be taken lightly. Getting less than seven hours starts to impair brain function.
During deep sleep the brain is cleansed of metabolic toxins that have accumulated throughout the day. Beta amyloid is one of those toxins and happens to be linked to the plaque build up associated with Alzheimer’s disease. According to neuroscientist and sleep expert, Dr. Matthew Walker, insufficient sleep is the most significant lifestyle factor determining whether or not you’ll develop this devastating disease. That information alone is worthy of putting sleep on the highest of pedestals.
Recommended Daily Ritual
Since your bedroom is the portal to your fountain of youth, treat this space like the restorative sanctuary it is. Curate it so that when you’re in it, you feel nurtured and calm.
- Keep drawers, closets and shelves clutter free.
- Sort and fold laundry in a way that makes you feel centered, organized and peaceful.
- A cool 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal.
- Keep screens out of this sacred space, they emit blue light that disrupts the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. According to Dr. Walker, one hour of iPhone use right before sleeping delays melatonin production by up to 3 hours. Keep the iPhone in the kitchen and grab a good, old fashioned book for reading before bed. See what's on our nightstand below.
And finally, protect your sleep schedule. Going to sleep and waking the same times everyday is the key to good sleep hygiene. Commit to it. Guard it. Honor it.
How do you manage a good night's sleep? Join the conversation below.
Looking for a good book?
Here's what's on our nightstand: Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon, Animal Farm, Siddhartha, Shop Craft as Soul Craft, The Unsettlers & Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.