Sleep is as important for our bodies as breathing, eating and drinking water and disturbed sleep or lack of sleep can impact us both mentally and physically.
Physically not getting enough sleep can lead our immune systems to become weaker and make us prone to illness. Lack of sleep has also been shown to exasperate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
67% of Brits are more stressed now than they were five years ago, with the most common stress triggers being work, sleep and finances, according to new research by mindfulness app Headspace.
While the odd late night isn’t going to cause too much damage, inconsistent sleeping patterns over time will have an impact not just on mental and physical wellbeing but on the skin too.
SLEEP AND SKIN
Many clients come into aesthetic clinics wanting to enhance their appearance because they look tired. While this is sometimes due to the effects of the ageing process, it can also be because they genuinely are tired and lack of sleep has negatively impacted their skin.
While we are asleep our cortisol levels decrease and cellular regeneration takes place so sleep deprivation can lead to a reduction in collagen production and, as a result, poor skin elasticity. Cortisol also causes blood vessels to swell to accommodate an increased volume of blood. This happens to the blood vessels under the eyes too. Cortisol activates our ‘flight or fight’ response and can also elevate oil production, leading to breakouts.
Dark circles under the eyes can also be caused by or exasperated by lack of sleep and our immune systems can be affected when the body is deprived of sleep leading to or worsening rashes and other skin-related problems.
There is also a connection between poor sleep and weight gain, with those who don’t sleep enough having increased hunger and lower metabolic rates.
So could advising your clients to make sure they get a good night’s sleep to enhance the results of your aesthetic treatments? The answer is probably so.
A good place to start would be to ask them about their sleep patterns and quality during the consultation if you are not already doing so.
SLEEP AND YOUR OWN WELLBEING
That old adage of “take your own advice” may be applicable to a lot of things aesthetic practitioners advise their patients to do but sleep is right up there.
We all lead busy lives and for those running a business in a competitive market like aesthetics, this can be particularly true. From treating patients to carrying out marketing and social media activities, to managing staff and doing accounts at the same time as juggling families, attending conferences and having some form of social life, it’s no wonder that taking this advice yourself is easier said than done.
Lack of sleep however can have a negative impact on cognitive function and while it may seem as though staying up late working gets more done, the negative impact on your ability to think and perform properly the following day can mean it’s counterproductive.
TIPS FOR A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Here are some easy-to-follow at home tips for both you and your patients.
1. Turn off all electronic devices and televisions at least an hour before bed
So many of us are guilty of taking our phones, laptops or tablets to bed with us as well as having TVs in our room or reading on a Kindle. But when we do this we can disrupt our sleep patterns, particularly when sleeping with a mobile phone on next to us.
One of the reasons for this is because the backlit ‘blue light’ displays of such devices suppress melatonin production – the hormone that helps you sleep. Exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to parts of the brain that control hormones, body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or wide-awake. It has also been shown that light emitted from laptops and mobile phones could also be contributing to premature skin ageing.
2. Go to bed earlier
Research has shown that even going to bed one hour earlier can have huge benefits for your body, your mood, and your relationships but why is this? Surely it’s the amount of sleep you get not whether you go to bed at 9pm or 1am? Really its more about the quality of sleep as well as the amount of time spent asleep. Our bodies are in tune to the natural cycles of nature and if we are staying up way into the night and trying to sleep during the day when it is light outside it can be hard.
The human body runs on a 24-hour cycle which is regulated by our internal clock, which is known as a circadian rhythm, or chronotype. This internal clock regulates many physical functions, such as telling you when to eat, sleep and wake. An individual’s chronotype leads to people having a natural preference towards waking early or going to bed late.
In fact research led by Dr Suzana Almoosawi from Northumbria University and published in Advances in Nutrition in November 2018 showed that night owls may have a higher risk of suffering from heart disease and type 2 diabetes than early risers.
It showed that people who go to bed later tend to have unhealthier diets, consuming more alcohol, sugars, caffeinated drinks and fast food than early risers. They consistently report more erratic eating patterns as they miss breakfast and eat later in the day. Their diet contains less grains, rye and vegetables and they eat fewer, but larger, meals. They also report higher levels of consumption of caffeinated beverages, sugar and snacks, than those with a morning preference, who eat slightly more fruit and vegetables per day. This potentially explains why night owls have a higher risk of suffering from chronic disease.
Eating late in the day was also found to be linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes because the circadian rhythm influences the way glucose is metabolised in the body. Glucose levels should naturally decline throughout the day and reach their lowest point at night. However, as night owls often eat shortly before bed, their glucose levels are increased when they are about to sleep. This could negatively affect metabolism as their body isn’t following its normal biological process.
One study showed that people with an evening preference were 2.5 times more likely to have type 2 diabetes than those with a morning preference.
This also impacts on people who work shifts – particularly rotating shifts – as they are constantly adjusting their body clock to fit with their working hours. The researchers found that this reduces their sensitivity to insulin and affects their glucose tolerance, putting them at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Another study noted that being exposed to daylight influenced sleep. Every additional hour spent outdoors was associated with 30 minutes of ‘advance sleep’ and that the noise, ambient lighting and crowding of urban environments can make people in some areas more likely to have a morning or evening preference.
The researchers also found evidence that night owls would accumulate ‘sleep debt’ during the working week and would sleep longer at weekends to compensate for this, whereas early birds had smaller differences in their sleeping patterns across the week.
3. Cut down on alcohol intake
Even though it might seem as though alcohol helps you sleep, the opposite is actually true. While knocking back a few beverages might help you nod off initially, even just a couple of drinks can affect the quality of your sleep and disrupt your sleep cycle – regular drinking even more so. This is because drinking leads you to spend more time in a deep sleep and less time than usual in the more restful, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep.
This can mean that no matter how long you have spent in bed you can still feel over tired the next day and so the cycle continues.
4. Drink soothing herbal teas before bed
Herbal teas have been used as natural sleep aids for centuries with ingredients such as chamomile, lavender and valerian root being popular choices. They help to promote relaxation before bed and are a much better option than caffeinated stimulants such as coffee or regular tea.
5. Use soothing essential oils and aromatherapy blends
Our sense of smell is strongly linked to our memories and emotion and certain fragrances have been shown to help promote a state of calmness.
Essential oils can improve sleep quality and provide relief for disrupted sleep. In a 2017 study researchers found that a blend of sleep promoting essential oils worked more effectively to improve both sleep quality and quality of life than a single essential oil, such as lavender.
Meditation has many benefits, one of which is helping you to relax and calm your mind after a stressful day, therefore helping you to sleep. And the great thing about meditation is that it can be done anywhere, any time for free. Even five to 10 minutes can be beneficial.
The Mental Health Foundation has created a free booklet called Sleep Matters: The Impact of Sleep on Health and Wellbeing which has tips on how to get a good night’s sleep and why sleep is so important for our physical and mental wellbeing.