When I was in my early 20s, I had a rep for being the last one standing whenever I went clubbing with my girlfriends. Yes, I was the annoying one who wanted to order tequila shots at 3am, when everyone else was ready to head home. Now, things couldn't be more different. I yawn by midnight and have started nagging at my friends about the importance of beauty sleep, which, as it turns out, is a real thing.
Between 11pm and 2am, when we're in deep sleep, the body releases growth hormones - natural wonders that increase the production of collagen, reduce protein breakdown and enhance cell renewal. In short, they help repair the damage sustained by the skin during the day and keep you looking youthful. That's why skin looks lacklustre, dull and tired when you've had a sleepless night. Convinced now?
Here, my top tips to help you get the best beauty sleep ever.
1. SWITCH OFF
Your electronic devices, that is.
Yes, this means no more using your cellphone, tablet or computer - or watching TV, for that matter - right before you turn in. The light from these devices suppresses melatonin, the hormone that tells your brain it's time to rest. Consequently, you take a longer time to fall asleep, and when you do, chances are, you'll have a restless night. To avoid this, keep to a strict "no electronics" rule 30 minutes before bedtime, and spend that time doing activities to wind down, such as applying your night-time skincare products and meditating.
2. KEEP HYDRATED
The skin is more permeable at night compared to during the day, which means that it naturally loses more moisture at night, while we sleep. To prevent waking up with dull, flaky skin in the morning, I apply a moisturising overnight mask to keep it plump. My current fave? The Body Shop Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask ($49.90). Promising to renew and repair the skin with edelweiss, sea holly and criste marine (a sea plant) stem cells, it has a silky, refreshing texture. I also spritz Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream All-over Miracle Oil ($53) on my arms and legs to keep them hydrated and super smooth. If you have seriously dry skin and sleep in an air-conditioned room, I'd recommend getting a humidifier as well.
3. LOAD UP ON LAVENDER
What I do at the end of a long day: take a long, hot shower and apply my favourite lavender-scented body products after. Yes, it sounds like a cliche, but the scent of lavender really does have calming benefits. Mainstays on my bedside table include Aveda Stress-fix Body Creme ($89), a rich cream that soothes both my senses and super-dry skin, and This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray ($33). I spritz the latter once or twice on my pillowcase, then let the calming scent of lavender, patchouli and vetiver send me off to sleep. On extra arduous days, I light my Diptyque Feuille de Lavande candle ($102) as well - it fills my room with a crisp, green lavender scent.
4. SLEEP ON SATIN
The trick to waking up with silky tresses and a face free of pillow creases: sleep on satin pillowcases and bed sheets. Cotton ones tend to suck moisture out of the skin and cause hair breakage due to friction. Satin's smoother surface reduces friction, which means less, if any, sleep lines on the face (interestingly, it has also been said that this slows the formation of actual wrinkles) and hair breakage.
5. SET THE MOOD
When all else fails and I just can't doze off, I use a sleep app. The current one I'm into: Relax Melodies, a free app with more than 20 ambient noises - from the sound of gentle rain to birds chirping - that you can mix (combine up to 12) to create your very own sleepy-time remix. It has a timer function, so you don't have to worry about the app running all night and draining your cellphone's battery.
This story was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Her World magazine.
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