There’s a good reason that people call it beauty sleep. Our sleep is crucial for our health and has a big impact on our mood, our brain function, our immunity and more.
But it also has a large and direct impact on our appearance. If you’ve ever woken up after a night of insufficient sleep and gone straight to take a look in the mirror, then no doubt you’ll remember being greeted by a zombified version of yourself: that means washed out skin, bags under the eyes, bloodshot eyes, redness and possibly even dried out and flaky looking skin…
Not a good look!
Why Sleep Impacts Your Appearance
You might be wondering why sleep affects the way you look.
Well, there are some obvious reasons that we usually look a little rough in the morning, which include the fact that we haven’t had anything to drink for eight hours (so we’re dehydrated) and the fact that our hair is probably sticking up wildly.
The dark circles under the eyes meanwhile are usually the result of blood vessels that have been brought to the front of the eyes. When you’re tired, our blood vessels dilate – a consequence of elevated cortisol levels – which is supposed to help send more blood and more oxygen to our brains. It does that, but unfortunately it also makes us look like pandas.
Another side effect of tiredness is that the body retains more fluid. This in turn makes those bags and other veins look even more apparent, while also giving us a somewhat ‘puffy’ appearance. This is also why the eyes can start to look bloodshot.
Another factor is that tiredness makes us stressed. When we’re stressed, it affects our expression negatively and this is compounded by our faces looking‘ saggy’ as a result of low energy.
This isn’t even the bad news though. The bad news is what happens when you consistently aren’t getting enough sleep, which can lead to a situation where your cells appear 10-15 years older from constant stress and damage!
How to Get a Beauty Boost From Great Sleep
So, what can you do about all that? How can you make sure that you are not only getting more sleep but also waking up looking w hat ?
The first tip is of course to improve your ‘sleep hygiene’ (the routine leading up to sleep that can impact on how soundly you snooze). Make sure that your room is perfectly dark and quiet and also work on getting the temperature just right. This will help with your circulation and will prevent you from waking up hot in the night.
Another tip is to take a warm bath or shower just before bed. This will not only further help to regulate your temperature but also relax your muscles so that you sleep more soundly.
Avoiding stress before bed is generally the most important way to not only ensure you get to sleep faster, but also to help you look better in the morning. But this doesn’t necessarily just mean that you don’t get into any arguments – it also means you need to avoid biological causes of stress.
In particular, that means that you need to avoid unnatural light. The body’s biological rhythms are closely tied to light. When we were in the wild, we would have started getting tired in the evenings as it got darker and would have been woken naturally by the light from the sun. That’s why light causes the body to produce cortisol (the stress hormone) which makes us more alert, and a lack of light causes us to produce melatonin – the sleep hormone.
Unfortunately, the light that comes from our computer screens and televisions is very similar to the light that comes from the sun in terms of the wavelength. Thus, when watch TV just before bed or play computer games, we are actually telling our body that it’s morning and we’re producing more stress hormone.
Is it any surprise you don’t look fresh and well-rested when you wake up the next day?
A good way to avoid this is to spend at least half an hour before bed enjoying some downtime. This might mean reading a book by a low-level light, or just chatting to your partner. And leave your phone in another room entirely!
Another tip is to help yourself wake up more naturally by using a ‘daylight alarm’. These get gradually brighter in the morning and are actually designed to create light that is a similar wavelength to the sun. The best part is that they will great bright gradually in the morning to stir you gently out of sleep and to mimic the effect of being woken naturally by a sunrise!
How to Look Good When You Wake Up
No one looks perfect first thing in the morning, but avoiding stress and light before bed to reduce cortisol (and thus puffiness and bloodshot eyes) is a good way to improve your appearance.
Another important tip is to make sure you hydrate properly. Ironically, drinking more will help your body to look less puffy in the morning as water will continuously flush through the system. Avoiding salt is also a good idea which contributes to the dehydration and the puffiness.
If you struggle to stay hydrated, then consider investing in some chia seeds and consuming these with a big glass of water. Chia seeds absorb several times their weight in water, which means they can be effective at helping the body to hold on to more fluid during the night.
Eat a good source of complex carbohydrates before bed too. This will keep your energy levels high while you sleep to prevent some of the paleness and to further reduce morning stress.
Follow all these tips and finally, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Make sleep a priority and you’ll enjoy the time you are awake much more. And look more beautiful at the same time!