Beauty Sleep: Not Just Skin Deep

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Beauty Sleep: Not Just Skin Deep

We all know of the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, but here are some interesting facts you may not already know:
Not getting enough sleep makes you age faster. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended amount of sleep for an adult is 7-8 hours per night. Although our brains naturally deteriorate with age, not getting enough sleep may actually cause physical changes in the structure of the brain in ways associated with premature aging. Lack of sleep can also cause a decline in both short-term and long-term memory.
Your skin is your largest organ, and weighs around 6 pounds. It is the first thing that shows the general health of the body. Millions of new cells are being produced each day, and cell turnover happens 8 times faster while you are asleep, which is why you look younger after a good night’s rest. Lack of sleep affects the skin in many other ways, one of which is by causing an increase in cortisol. Cortisol breaks down collagen, the substance responsible for making your skin more elastic and supple. As a result of having less collagen, the skin becomes more wrinkled. Cortisol can also lead to increased inflammation in the body, which can worsen some skin problems, such as psoriasis and eczema.
Getting to bed at the proper time is also important. According to Chinese medicine, each organ of the body has a particular 2-hour block of time during the day or night when that organ is at its peak, energetically-speaking. Two major organs of detoxification and regulation are the Liver and Gallbladder. Their peak times are from 11 pm to 3 am. If you go to sleep before 11 pm, this allows your Liver and Gallbladder to function optimally. For this reason, the best time period for sleep is from 10 pm to 6 am. If you are used to staying up late, this may take some effort at first, but you can actually train your body to expect sleep if you make it a daily habit to be in bed at the same time each night.
Lack of sleep can lead to life-threatening illnesses. Research has shown that insufficient sleep may lead to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, and increased susceptibility to infection. In fact, chronic sleep deprivation is associated with a shorter lifespan.
Chronic sleep deprivation may lead to weight gain. For one thing, if you are fatigued due to lack of sleep, your body craves quick energy, which often comes in the form of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Also, your metabolism may not function optimally if you don’t get enough sleep, and the balance of the hormones that tell you when you hungry or full may be also affected if you are sleep-deprived.

Tips for better sleep:
• Avoid caffeine later in the day, and if you are a coffee drinker, try switching to green tea, which has less caffeine.
• Make it a habit to go to bed by 10:00 – 10:30 each night.
• Give yourself a foot massage before sleep – this helps to bring your energy out of your head, and helps to quiet your mind.
• Get regular exercise during the day. Even a short walk during the day can improve sleep at night.
• Eat dinner earlier, and avoid foods that are too heavy and hard to digest.
• Take a warm bath about an hour before bed; can also include Epsom salts in bath water – the magnesium in Epsom salts is absorbed through the skin and helps induce restful sleep
• Avoid TV and computer screens, since they tend to be too stimulating.
If you follow these tips, you are sure to have a more restful sleep.

Pleasant dreams!

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Teresa is a California licensed acupuncturist in San Francisco, CA

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