Dysfunction sleep habits accelerate aging. Of course you already knew that.
There are many short- and long- term consequences of sleep deprivation. Some are obvious from just looking in the mirror. Others are more insidious, particularly the effects of chronically increased production of cortisol, the stress hormone that can impact skin’s resilience and leads to thinning skin, loss of elasticity and wrinkles.
So if the multitude of health benefits associated with mastering the art of sleep hasn’t motivated you to take beauty rest seriously, perhaps saving your skin could be your ultimate wake-up call. (Pun intended.)
Short sleep patterns – that is less than 7 hours per night – are a chronic health risk in the U.S. In fact, a third of us report not getting that overnight reset on the regular. Why? Sometimes the reason is tied to a specific situation (e.g. new parenthood, extended international travel, working late—or early), but for most of us, chronic sleep deprivation is the result of some slumber-sabotaging habits. The following seven culprits are among the most common; avoiding (or amending) them may be just what you need to score a full night of restorative shuteye, at last.
Sleep mistake #1: You drink caffeine at lunch (or later)
Sure, you’d probably expect that sipping an espresso after dinner would impact your ability to fall asleep that night. But did you know that caffeine can stick around in your system for as long as ten hours—blocking the production of adenosine, the chemical that makes us naturally sleepy in the evenings? So, that iced tea you had at lunch? It may still be kicking around at 10 pm, hindering your ability to fall soundly and deeply asleep.
Thus, while most sleep experts recommend ceasing caffeine consumption six to eight hours before you go to bed, if you are a regular caffeine imbiber and struggle to fall asleep most nights, consider capping caffeine at more like the mid-morning mark.
Sleep mistake #2: You unwind with (too much) alcohol
While caffeine can keep you up at night by blocking sleep-inducing adenosine, alcohol increases production of this chemical. And while this may seem like a good thing for those struggling to get to sleep, a dramatic spike in adenosine isn’t consistent with our natural sleep patterns and can actually disrupt the restorative phases we need to cycle through each night. The result of too much alcohol before bed is either that we wake up in the morning, feeling foggy and groggy— or, more commonly, that we wake suddenly in the middle of the night, then struggle to fall back to sleep. To minimize the negative impact of a nightcap, most experts say to quit drinking two hours before bed—and to stop at two drinks.
You may also consider subbing a soothing tea or elixir for your Sauvignon Blanc. Solvasa Golden Moment Tumeric Elixir is infused with turmeric and ashwagandha, two Ayurvedic spices that fight stress and leave you feeling calmer.
Sleep mistake #3: You climb into bed with your phone
Repeated studies show that the blue light emitting from our smartphones (and tablets and laptops), suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that keeps our body on a consistent, healthy 24-hour schedule. And when our circadian rhythms get chronically off-kilter, it becomes harder to fall asleep and harder to wake up in the morning.
The other pitfall when you bring your phone to bed: falling down an online rabbit hole with Instagram, YouTube, SportsCenter (pick your digital poison). Suddenly, 11 p.m. becomes 12 a.m., and the night’s sleep allotment has dropped from seven to six hours or less.
To minimize the negative impact on your sleep, experts say to turn off all screens at least thirty minutes before you go to bed. And, while you’re at it, turn off all lights when you’re ready to close your eyes. A flashing TV, a nightstand light—your partner scrolling through their phone next to you—can all obstruct melatonin production. Can’t keep the bedroom totally dark for some reason? Consider investing in a comfy light-blocking eye mask.
Sleep mistake #4: You keep your bedroom too warm
To fall asleep, the body naturally lowers its core temperature, so keeping your bedroom somewhere between 66 and 70 degrees at night can help facilitate this. Note: Some people (especially women grappling with menopause) may want their room even cooler than this to combat internal temperature fluctuations overnight.
Sleep mistake #5: You work out hard—right before bed
Getting regular exercise has been shown to help you sleep better at night—as long as it’s not a sweaty, heart-thumping workout done within an hour of your bedtime. As noted above, the body preps for sleep by lowering its core body temperature, and a high-intensity workout, e.g. running or biking, does the exact opposite of that, heating things up and throwing off your circadian rhythm (again). A smarter strategy, if exercising at night is your only option: Opt for lower-intensity workouts like yoga, stretching or walking.
Sleep mistake #6: You don’t have a consistent bedtime
Going to bed at different times each night can also throw off your circadian rhythm, leaving you unable to fall asleep when you finally do hit the sheets—then sleepy in the morning. And while some bedtime variance is normal and understandable, to minimize the impact on your body’s self-scheduling, try to keep the range within an hour.
Need further motivation to create a set bedtime? A recent study said a constantly fluctuating bedtime impacts more than just your energy; it has also been shown to correlate to metabolic issues, including an increased risk of obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Sleep mistake #7: You don’t have a calming bedtime routine
Babies and toddlers aren’t the only ones who benefit from a pre-bedtime bath and story time. Establishing a few calming rituals—like a bath, reading, or meditation—can all help dial down brain wave activity, heart rate, breathing and your body temperature, setting you up for sleep success. And you don’t need an elaborate two-hour routine; experts say allotting even two minutes can help. Try a brief meditation, a few sun salutations, or perform a gentle, relaxing lymphatic massage using the Solvasa Crystal Wand in conjunction with the DeStressance Serum.
And if you still can’t fall asleep? Get out of bed. Staying in bed, tossing and turning and stressing about not being able to fall asleep, is a very common mistake. The unintended consequence: increased anxiety and insomnia—and less sleep.
A better bet: Get out of bed and, keeping the lights low, read a book, fold laundry, knit, pet your dog or cat—any activity that requires low energy and has a rhythmic, soothing effect. Then, once you start to feel sleepy, return to bed and try again.
Oh, one last sleep-related beauty tip: avoid constantly sleeping on your face. Over time, that pillow crush can lead to stubborn lines and wrinkles.
Be intentional and think of a good night’s sleep as a gift you give to your body. Then awaken with gratitude for the gift of a new day.