In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week let’s venture off our routine topics and talk about sleep. With the novel coronavirus spreading throughout the world many likely feel their sense of normalcy and daily routines have come to a hault. Many are working from home, temporarily furloughed, or laid off resulting in difficult times with our entertainment and hobbies temporarily taken away. During the first week of quarantine, usual routines of daily life were flipped upside down abruptly. Slowly but surely though, we have begun to piece them back together like a puzzle. Here is a topic which affects us all and can benefit how we look and feel – Sleep.
It is no question sleep plays a pivotal role in revitalizing us both mentally and physically. When we are rested our body functions better and mentally we feel good about ourselves. Sleep is metaphorically like our battery charger. Good sleep hygiene is essential to optimize physiological functions including restoring our skin. For example, it’s during the early onset of non-REM sleep the skin repairs itself. Sleep is so important there is an entire fellowship dedicated to sleep medicine which physicians may pursue to help patients with sleep problems. There is so much to talk about with regards to good sleep hygiene, however I wanted to focus on some general tips which may help you look and feel better.
Sleep tips in no particular order:
- Create a consistent routine, even on weekends – Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
- Take a nap if you feel like you need it and to repay your sleep debt.
- Curate an aesthetically pleasing, calming, and comfortable place to sleep tailored to your personal likings.
- Turn off electronics 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. Replace or dim bright digital clock displays. Blue light at night emanating from screens can affect your melatonin level which helps regulate your sleep wake cycle.
- Consider buying ergonomic pillows tailored to your sleeping style which can reduce neck pain and result in a more comfortable night’s sleep.
- Relax and unwind before going to bed – Wash your face before you go to sleep and carry out your physician dispensed skincare routine. Take a warm bath with lavender foaming bath wash (L’Occitane is my personal favorite), Epsom salts and/or candles. Shower, read a book, listen to soothing music, and/or drink a warm cup of cozy chamomile tea or whatever helps you find your inner zen.
- Limit caffeine intake and alcohol several hours prior to bed both of which can make falling asleep more difficult and have diuretic effects.
- Consider trying occasional over the counter medications such as melatonin which may help if still having trouble sleeping. For faster absorption they even come in gummy form. Melatonin is a natural substance your body uses, however caution is advised and you should ask your primary care physician if melatonin is safe to try.
- Avoid relying on prescription sleep medications unless directed by your physician.
- If continued difficulty sleeping talk to your primary care physician about your concerns. You may benefit from a consultation with a sleep medicine specialist who will take a detailed history, exam, and possibly a non-invasive specialized sleep study evaluating your brain activity via an electroencephalogram (EEG). This study will monitor your brain activity, movement, oxygen levels, breathing patterns, and heart rate to determine if you have a sleep disorder. Psychiatrists may also help you if you suffer from depression or other mental health disturbances.
Our goal is for you to have the best possible sleep hygiene and to enjoy the many benefits of sleep including beautiful healthy skin. Improved sleep can help optimize your skin tone, minimize wrinkles, and reduce those dreaded “bags” around your eyes.
For more information, please feel free to check out the following website: www.sleepfoundation.org.