“You look tired.” That’s a nice way — regardless of their sincere empathy — to say we look like crap. Puffy panda eyes, pale skin, hanging eyelids…the lack of beauty sleep really isn’t doing any of us justice.
What is it about getting the adequate amount of zzz’s that makes our skin look so much better? And why does sleep deprivation take a toll on how we look (and feel)?
All perfectly valid questions, which is why we turned to none other than The Sleep Doctor, Dr. Michael Breus. With his expertise and insights from his quest on Mindvalley, The Mastery of Sleep, you’ll discover more about:
- What Is “Beauty Sleep”?
- 5 Benefits of Beauty Sleep, According to Science
- 5 Tips for Getting the Best Beauty Sleep Ever
Maybe Sleeping Beauty was in on the well-known secret — sleeping is linked to beauty. So take it from her and go get your zzz’s in.
What Is “Beauty Sleep”?
The idea of “beauty sleep” is simple — the habit of sleeping early or getting extra sleep will help you be more rested and potentially look more youthful. It’s all about the link between aging (particularly, the skin) and why we feel sleepy. But the truth of the matter is, beauty sleep is nothing more than just a good night’s rest.
What we really know is that productivity, wellness, and health fundamentally cannot be without sleep.— Dr. Michael Breus, trainer of Mindvallely’s The Mastery of Sleep Quest
The phrase is often linked to women considering it contributes to aging gracefully. However, it’s neither a female nor a masculine thing. It’s a human thing.
How sleep affects your skin
Sleep may just well be the closest thing to the fountain of youth — when it comes to your skin, of course. The question is, how does it help?
As with your body, sleep allows your skin the time to repair itself. Here are three main things that happen to your body’s protective layer when you’re off in dreamland:
- Blood flow increases, which helps bring nutrients to the epidermis. This also provides you with a healthy glow.
- Collagen rebuilds as part of the repair process when you sleep. With the new collagen, your skin is firmer and more toned, reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
- Brighter, less puffy eyes happen when you get enough sleep. When you don’t, your eyes get dry and irritated, and this can lead to inflammation and puffiness.
So for glowing, radiant skin as you age, it’s always best to get adequate rest for your body to rejuvenate.
5 Benefits of Beauty Sleep, According to Science
Bon Jovi has it all wrong when he sings, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” The notion that “sleep is for the weak” does more harm to your body than good.
When it comes to your skin, research has shown that when a person gets adequate sleep, their skin ages slower than someone who doesn’t. A 2015 study in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found that chronic poor sleep quality is linked to increased signs of intrinsic aging, diminished skin barrier function, and lower satisfaction with appearance.
So getting enough shut-eye is essential for your beauty; that’s a fact. There are also other benefits of good sleep for your body. Here’s a list, as per The Sleep Doctor.
- Keeps your immune system up to par. Getting high-quality beauty sleep regularly can help reduce inflammation and promote health in aging. It lowers your risk for aging-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, heart problems, diabetes, cancer, and so on.
- Improves your sex life. Studies show a link between poor sleep and lack of sexual desire and satisfaction. When your body doesn’t go into the deeper stages of sleep, it doesn’t get the restorative levels it needs to function well.
- Boosts your energy reserves. There are three stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) before the rapid eye movement (REM) stage. The third NREM plays a major role in enhancing your body’s ability to make its energy molecule, also known as ATP.
With beauty sleep, your body passes through the first two NREM stages quickly, allowing you to spend a longer time in the third. This allows you to wake up feeling more refreshed than someone who’s sleep deprived.
- Improves your cognitive performance. When you don’t get enough sleep, a number of cognitive functions diminish, according to an article in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. This includes attention, language, reasoning, decision-making, learning, and memory.
- Helps you lose weight and keep it off. There’s a correlation between sleep and weight. As the length and quality of your sleep go down, the amount of weight goes up.
As Dr. Breus points out, “Most people have never been taught to sleep.” But when you understand and learn how to get beauty sleep, you’ll see vast improvements in your overall well-being.
5 Tips for Getting the Best Beauty Sleep Ever
When it comes to your self-care routine, beauty sleep may just be the closest thing there is to a fountain of youth. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t getting the adequate amount of zzz’s required. And that’s likely to affect our appearance.
So what’s the best course of action? Dr. Breus recommends these five sleep tips to age more gracefully.
1. Stop drinking caffeine by 2 p.m.
It’s no secret that Americans consume a lot of caffeine, especially coffee. So much so that a 2022 trend report by the National Coffee Association stated, “66% of Americans now drink coffee each day, more than any other beverage, including tap water.” This is an increase of nearly 14% since January 2021.
While the consumption of coffee (and other caffeinated beverages, like tea) isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there is a limit to when you should stop drinking it.
Dr. Breus’ tip: “The half-life of caffeine in your body is between six and eight hours. That means if you consume 100mg of caffeine in the morning, six to eight hours later, you’re still going to have 50mg that’s impacting your system.”
So why stop drinking caffeine by 2 p.m.? On average, people go to bed by 10 p.m. And if the half-life of caffeine is six to eight hours, then 2 p.m. is the cut-off time without it affecting your sleeping habits.
Now, that’s not set in stone. If bedtime is at an earlier time or later time, adjust the hour accordingly to optimize your sleep.
2. Give your body enough time to absorb alcohol before going to sleep
“Alcohol is the number one sleep aid in the world,” says The Sleep Doctor. While having a nightcap sounds fantastic, he adds that it deprives you of sleeping like a baby.
A 2020 survey by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that a whopping 68% of Americans have lost sleep due to having a drink past bedtime. This includes one in five Americans reporting that they often lose sleep due to alcohol consumption.
Dr. Breus’ tip: “It’s okay to drink alcohol, but the key is timing.”
The average person approximately one hour to absorb one alcoholic beverage. So if having a glass of wine is part of your evening routine, then you need to make sure you give your body at least an hour before going to sleep.
3. Get some exercise
Going to bed at a certain hour is one thing, but the quality of your beauty sleep is another. One thing that can help is working out.
This is especially useful advice for new parents who often find it difficult to get in that fitness time. But the key is, any exercise will do, just as long as you keep it moving.
“As little as 20-25 minutes of daily exercise will improve the length and depth of your sleep,” says Dr. Breus. However, he adds that if you do so too close to bedtime, it might actually have the opposite of the desired effect.
Dr. Breus’ tip: “A good rule is not to exercise within four hours of your desired bedtime. Otherwise, you may actually find sleep more difficult.”
And if this is the case, a little sleep meditation can absolutely help.
4. Don’t use your phone in bed
Technology has gotten us far, but there’s always a downside to it. Many of us are guilty of using our gadgets before going to bed at night. And there are even some of us that are doing revenge bedtime procrastination.
“Your exposure to light can cause a whole host of sleep problems,” Dr. Breus explains. The blue light emitted from the phone or tablet is, what he calls, “caffeine for the brain.” And one of the main things it does is suppress melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep cycles.
Dr. Breus’ tip: “If you want to develop healthy sleep patterns, it’s important not to use your phone in bed.”
When you’re on it even for as little as five minutes, it can have a huge effect on your system. “It’s kind of like taking a shot of caffeine” and that is definitely not what you want to be doing at night.
5. Identify your chronotype
“How many hours do you need for beauty sleep?” is a frequently asked question. Eight hours per night is a common belief, which The Sleep Doctor says is a myth.
“We know that the average sleep cycle is approximately 90 minutes and the average person has five of these cycles,” he explains. “If you look closely, you’ll see that this equation leads to only seven and a half hours of sleep.”
However, it really depends on your chronotype, the internal rhythms that are biologically set. And each person is one of the four:
- Dolphin. They often have trouble finding a sleep routine that works for them.
- Lion. They tend to wake up early.
- Bear. This is the most common chronotype; their sleep-wake cycle is aligned with the sun.
- Wolf. They are most energetic in the later parts of the day.
Dr. Breus’ tip: Identifying your chronotype can give you insight into your sleep and wake cycles, and peak productivity times. This’ll allow you to know when your body naturally wakes up and the ideal time for you to go to bed so that you can get your beauty sleep.
You can find out which type you are with The Sleep Doctor’s chronotype quiz. And to better understand the different one, he goes into more detail here:
Your Greatness Starts With Your Beauty Sleep
Beauty sleep may sound like a great catchphrase. However, it’s a valuable habit to adopt.
As Miss Faith Cavendish says in Catcher in the Rye, “Well, anyway. I gotta get my beauty sleep. You know how it is.“
We sure do, Miss Cavendish. We sure do.
After all, sleep is a form of self-love. And if that’s something you need, then you can learn how to do so with The Sleep Doctor himself.
In Mindvalley’s The Mastery of Sleep Quest, he’ll guide you on how to:
- Identify your chronotype so you know your ideal bedtime,
- Discover how many hours of sleep you really need,
- Learn how to reprogram your mind and body to sleep through the night, and
- Wake up energized without ever needing an alarm clock.
You can sign up for an account to sample selected classes for free. What’s more, you also have access to a vast library of guided meditations, including those to help you fall asleep faster and deeper.
“I believe that the world would be a better place if everybody slept better,” says Dr. Breus. And you can do your part by getting your beauty sleep.