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How-Tos

Sleep: The Missing Piece for Optimal Health & Beauty

February 1, 2013
sleep

You eat well. You exercise. You’re careful about what you put onto your skin and hair. You’re doing everything you can, right? If you’re not feeling as good as you know you could, the missing piece of your feel-good puzzle good be a good old daily dose of sleep!

Sleep is fundamental to your body’s ability to heal itself. Not getting enough means that you do not function at your peak during the day; which in turn creates anxiety and prevents you from sleeping. What is the solution? Get the right amount of shut eye in the right environment.

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Here are some simple, effective ways to make sure you get enough sleep tonight:

Sleep in the dark

Even a small amount of light can suppress your body’s melatonin production. This will alter your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle and also affect other vital processes. Even bright alarm clocks count as light! And make sure you get plenty of natural sunlight during the day.

Wind down before bed

Before you turn out the light, give yourself a little time (10 to 15 minutes) to write down any thoughts, worries and a short to do list for tomorrow. Then lie in the dark, with no music or TV sounds, and breathe slowly and calmly to relax your body and mind. This process of deliberate daily “letting go” will benefit many areas of your life.

Tone down the caffeine and alcohol

If you need a coffee (or three) to get started in the morning, and feel that you need a glass of wine (or three) to relax enough to sleep, then the simple solution is: you aren’t getting enough sleep in the first place. Stimulants and depressants only interrupt your body’s natural cycles, so try going to bed earlier and relaxing your mind more thoroughly.

Rest

Obvious, right?! However, rest and sleep are two different things. Instead of watching TV, drinking alcohol, surfing the internet or mindless chatting, try meditating or practicing some yoga. Taking time during your daily routine to truly rest – rather than simply engage in mindless recreation – will improve your sleep and your energy levels.

Find your natural sleep cycle

Next time you have holidays or a week or two without morning appointments, try this: go to bed at the same time every night (try to pick a time that would work well for your usual routine) and allow yourself to sleep and wake up naturally – no alarms! If you are sleep deprived your body may lap up the extra sleep for a while, but you will reach a point when you have a natural sleep cycle that works for you.

Getting enough sleep will give you more energy, boost your immune system and strengthen your mental health. So what are you waiting for – hit snooze!

By Laura Hughes