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Get Your Beauty Sleep

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Get Your Beauty Sleep

Your health rests on rest!
Robert M. Tornambe M.D.
Robert M. Tornambe M.D. More by this author
Apr 16, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Real estate mogul Donald Trump has famously stated that he functions perfectly well on a scant three hours of sleep each night—but that doesn’t mean you can, or should. Countless studies have shown that sleep is a vital body function, allowing the body to repair itself and rebuild vital connections during the night.

But I’m sure you don’t need to read these studies to know what sleep deprivation does to your physical appearance. Since your skin is your body’s largest organ, and since blood flow to the skin increases during sleep, surviving on a few hours of shut-eye takes an immediate toll. Your skin will be dull and lifeless. You may have dark circles under your eyes. Your energy will be low, and there will be little pep in your step. You’ll feel blah—and look it!

Ample sleep needs to be a priority in your life, not just for a high beauty quotient but to ensure basic health, particularly as you get older. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), adults need seven to eight hours of sleep every night (although many don’t come close). Without it, productivity, judgment, and reaction times decline and irritability and sluggishness increase.

“The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep in previous days,” the AASM adds. “Getting too little sleep creates a ‘sleep debt,’ which is much like being overdrawn at the bank. Eventually, your body will demand that the debt be repaid.”

Unfortunately, for many the debt is repaid via the use of prescription sleeping pills. Although the occasional use of sleeping pills can be very helpful if you can’t fall asleep, using them on a regular basis can lead not only to dependence on these depressants but also to dependence on a stimulant to help you wake up and have more energy during the day. This can quickly veer into full addiction and troublesome side effects that wreak havoc on your entire body and biological clock. Burnout is inevitable. A long program of either weaning yourself off these medications or more intense rehab is often needed.

Alcohol is also not an effective sleeping aid. Although it does make some people sleepy, those who rely on alcohol to fall asleep will awaken in several hours (usually four to five) later due to a rebound effect after the alcohol is metabolized and wears off. The result is more fatigue coupled with a hangover.

My favorite way to get restful, refreshing sleep is to treat yourself like a baby—by using a technique that many parents, including myself, followed with great success. They knew that what works best to get babies and toddlers to sleep is to follow the same routine every night.

In my home when my children were young, this meant dinner, bath, pajamas, reading a book aloud, cuddles, a little bit of talking about the day, more cuddles, and then lights out. Like clockwork, dinner was served at the same time, and everything else followed on a rigid timetable. My boys needed this schedule as much as my wife and I did! They found it soothing and comforting. We had ample proof of how effective this schedule was, as whenever we traveled out of town, disrupting their routine, they would rarely go to sleep as easily or sleep as deeply.

Although, obviously, adults have many pressures in their lives that can make a nightly sleep-time routine difficult, you can still try to create your own timetable and follow it as best you can. You can try eating a healthy snack and sipping a cup of hot chamomile tea, taking a steaming bath, reading, watching a movie (not a scary or depressing one that will keep your mind way too engaged to wind down), spending time alone with your partner, and then lights out.

When you’re devising a nighttime routine, time it backward so you know how much time you’ll need to do it properly. Then you’ll know when to start getting ready for bed.

It might take some time to adapt to this sleep routine, but eventually it will become second nature, and you should find yourself sleeping more easily.

Here are more tips that should help you get the sleep you need:

  • A hot bath is not a relaxing cliché—it really does work to calm you down and make you sleepy, much more so than showers do.
  • Try to limit your coffee or tea consumption to early in the day, and if you do have any difficulty sleeping at night, avoid coffee or any other caffeinated drinks after midday.
  • Vigorous exercise is a stimulant, and if done in the evening, it can keep you up longer. If you can, try to work out early in the day, or at least before dinner.
  • Try to avoid heavy dinners, especially if they’re very rich or spicy. These may keep you up because your body is digesting the food and blood flow to your stomach prevents deep sleep from occurring. 
  • Create a calming sleep environment with a white noise machine, heavy window curtains, or even a fan, to help blot out street noises or other distractions.
  • Use your bedroom only for bedroom activities. Just as it’s not a good idea to have a television in your children’s bedrooms, it’s not a good idea to have one easily accessible from your bed. It’s too easy to turn it on and get distracted.
  • If you prefer to read before sleep, have your lamp easily accessible. The last thing you want to do as you’re dropping off is have to get up to turn off the light!
About Author
Robert M. Tornambe M.D.
Dr. Tornambe has lectured in the United States and Europe and is considered an expert in cosmetic facial and breast surgery. He was listed in New York Magazine’s “The Best Doctors in New York.” Dr. Tornambe has appeared onteline, the Today Continue reading