An Introduction to Holistic SkincareHow long does your skincare routine take each day? Though you may spend a few minutes a day caring for your skin, the truth is that what you do during the rest of the day (and night) can affect your skin just as much, or more, than the time you dedicate to skincare. Think of it this way: Using nourishing creams can be a great way to boost your skin’s health, especially for problematic skin, but if that’s all you’re doing, it’s like taking your vitamins in the morning but eating junk food the rest of the day!
In caring for your skin, it’s important to consider all the factors that affect your skin’s health. In other words, it’s crucial that you take a holistic approach to skincare. This is the first in a series of Holistic Skincare posts, designed to give you the knowledge you need to master caring for your skin!
Getting Enough Sleep
We’ve all heard about the importance of getting enough sleep each night, but did you know that lack of sleep can affect your skin’s health? When you sleep, your body is actually hard at work repairing and regenerating your skin. Sleep is your built-in skin maintenance and repair system; without enough sleep, all sorts of problems accumulate! Research shows that even one night of sleep deprivation can cause:
- droopy eyelids
- more swollen eyes
- darker circles under the eyes
- more wrinkles & fine lines
- droopier corners of the mouth
And those are just the short-term consequences of sleep deprivation. Chronic sleep deprivation causes much more serious damage to the skin, such as negatively affecting collagen growth and wound healing. This is because sleep deprivation leads to higher levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—in the body, which accelerates collagen and elastin breakdown and leads to thinner skin, more wrinkles, and decreased skin elasticity. In other words, since both collagen and elastin are essential to skin integrity, their breakdown essentially accelerates ageing—and this unnaturally sped up ageing process is entirely avoidable by getting enough sleep!
Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis also leads to more dehydrated skin and higher levels of inflammation, leading to the development of all sorts of inflammatory skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and even the development of skin allergies.
Thus, prioritising your “beauty sleep” is an essential part of any holistic skincare plan.
Quality vs. Quantity
Research indicates that most adults should get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but the quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity! This is because sleep deprivation is not only caused by lack of sleep, but also by environmental or behavioral factors that reduce the quality of your sleep. You may have experienced this yourself if you’ve ever woken up after a full night’s sleep, but still felt tired and unrested.
The key determinants of quality sleep include:
- Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time)
- Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
- Waking up no more than once per night; and
- Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.
For many people suffering from poor quality sleep, these may be easier said than done. Luckily, there are things you can do to increase your chances of consistently getting high-quality sleep. The following are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Stick to a sleep schedule: Try to keep your sleep and wake up times consistent, even on the weekends. This helps regulate your body’s natural clock, which may help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine: A relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading, meditating, or journaling, helps prep you psychologically for sleep by acting as a buffer between exciting or stressful daytime activities and sleep time. This can help make it easier to fall asleep, remain asleep, and get sound and deep sleep.
- Exercise daily: Though vigorous exercise is best, even light exercise helps. It’s easier to consistently exercise when you enjoy the activity, so make sure you pick something you like to do! Exercise at any time of the day, but make sure not to let your exercise time interrupt your sleep time.
- Use light to regulate your circadian rhythm: Try to expose yourself to sunlight each day, and avoid bright lights in the evening. This means avoiding electronics and glowing screens before bedtime!
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, & smoking in the evening: All of these can disrupt sleep or affect sleep quality. Also, try to avoid eating large meals for 2-3 hours before bedtime.
(Hint: In addition to affecting your sleep, your diet also has a direct impact on your skin’s health, which is the topic of the next installment of the Holistic Skincare series.)
With consistent effort and practice, you can improve not only your skin’s health, but also your overall health. Prioritising your sleep (remember, quantity and quality!) will leave you feeling refreshed, and lead to healthier, more radiant skin.
Want to learn more about holistic skincare? Read on to learn about the connection between diet and skin health in the next installment of the series!
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