Sleep Care

The Science Behind Beauty Sleep

QUEST FOR BEAUTY In the United States, women place significant importance on appearance. Surrounded by a culture saturated with images of physical beauty, women and girls often become obsessed with their appearances. Consequently, cosmetic procedures – both surgical and non-surgical – have been on the rise according to a recent YMCA study. And, American women spend upwards of $7 to $9 billion annually on health and beauty products in an effort to attain beauty. In fact, according to the YMCA study, if women saved $100 per month usually spent on cosmetics and beauty products, in five years they will have saved one full year of tuition and fees at an in-state public college. But there is good news. Women do not have to be tied to the beauty industry to look good or to feel good. Scientists are discovering that there may be a more natural way for women to improve their appearance – and their feelings of self-worth. Sleep. In fact, Swedish researchers recently found an important link between sleep and physical appearance. In their study, they found that sleep-deprived people appear less healthy, more tired and less attractive than

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those who snagged a full night’s sleep. “Sleep is the body’s natural beauty treatment,” says researcher John Axelsson. “It’s probably more effective than any treatment you can buy.” The Science Behind Beauty Sleep Everyone

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has heard the saying “get your beauty sleep.” Well, this is not a myth. Sleep does improve your appearance. For instance, sleep lessens the severity of wrinkles in the face and neck, at least temporarily. This fact is partly due to the decline in body temperature and a shift in body position. But there’s more to it than that. While you’re sleeping, your entire body, including the face, perspires. This perspiration moisturizes the skin and smoothes out wrinkles. As a result, sleep is a natural moisturizer for your skin. Moreover, during the nighttime sleep cycle, people typically have a surge in growth hormone. Its release occurs during the period of deep sleep – or during beauty sleep – and helps repair and rebuild body tissues like muscle and bone. The body’s cells also show increased production and reduced breakdown of proteins during deep sleep. Because proteins are the building blocks needed for cell growth and repair of damage from factors like stress and the sun’s ultraviolet rays, deep sleep may truly be the best beauty treatment available to you. There also is some evidence indicating that skin cells regenerate faster at night than during the day. Although cell division happens throughout the day, it peaks around 2 a.m. What this means is that sleep actually renews and rejuvenates your skin – just as many beauty products claim to do. Interestingly, peak cell division happens even if you stay awake at night, but the surge in growth hormone doesn’t. What this means, is that all the beauty products in the world cannot make up for a good night’s rest. And finally, if you don’t get adequate rest, your body produces excess cortisol, a hormone that breaks down skin cells. But if you do get enough rest, the human growth hormone your body produces will help skin appear thick and more elastic and less likely to wrinkle. Sleep and Self-Esteem As you know, your mind and body are connected. If you want to feel your best mentally, you must take good care of your body. In other words, you can’t ignore your body’s needs and expect to feel good. Too often people hope for a quick fix. But experts say this is not the answer. Instead, investing time in your physical health – like getting adequate sleep – is an investment that saves time in the long run because it sharpens your mental health and your overall sense of well-being. In fact, many studies have associated poor sleep with overall unhappiness. As a result, the amount of sleep you get and your regularity of sleep are crucial to how you will feel about yourself overall. In other words, if you try to get a little more sleep than you think you need, not only will you feel better about who you are and what you look like, but you will look better too.

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