How Our Bodies & Minds Recharge While We Dream
Daria Werbowy, Kate Moss and Lara Stone by Bruce Weber for W Magazine
1. Bye bye, under-eye circles and puffiness.
Suffering from constant puffiness or dark circles? Lack of sleep could be to blame. When we skimp on shut-eye, the blood vessels under our eyes dilate, leading to dark circles. Getting a solid 7 to 9 hours of sleep helps keep our eye area bright and youthful.
And the dreaded puffy eyes? When we’re sleeping, our circulatory system moves more slowly, resulting in extra fluid under the eyes. With a good night’s rest, our body is better able to flush out the excess liquid. Keeping your head slightly propped up with a pillow will also help reduce swelling.
2. Sleep keeps skin smooth and wrinkle-free.
They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing. Throughout daily life, our skin’s barrier is assaulted by hot water, detergents, physical trauma, free radicals and industrial chemicals, but at night, our skin is hard at work in repair mode.
Between the hours of 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM, our bodies produce the greatest amount of melatonin, the hormone that eases us into sleep mode. Melatonin then triggers the release of growth hormone, which is responsible for collagen stimulation and that beautiful radiant glow that comes with a good night’s rest. Collagen production decreases naturally as we age, but skimping on sleep will speed up the process. When sleep deprived, our bodies also produce too much cortisol, a hormone that breaks down collagen.
Around 2 AM, cell division—or mitosis—peaks, meaning our skin cells turn over and produce new cells more quickly than they have all day, rejuvenating our complexions. This process occurs whether you’re asleep or not, so if you’re reading this at 1:45 AM and have a full face of makeup on, now’s the time to thoroughly cleanse with a pH-balanced cleanser (hint, hint).
3. A solid snooze boosts your immune system.
Our skin isn’t the only thing repairing itself while we sleep. While we’re busy dreaming, our bodies are producing cytokines, proteins that send signals to different parts of our bodies when inflammation is needed as part of a healing process (yep, inflammation can be a good thing).
Lack of sleep, however, increases inflammatory cytokine production to unhealthy levels, which can lead to tissue-damaging inflammation, putting us at greater risk for colds and flu and making it harder to fight off infections and bacteria. Inflammation is associated with a host of chronic diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and is even tied to depression. A quality sleep will help keep our immune systems strong.
Studies have even shown that sleep deprivation is as damaging to your immune system as stress. When we get too few hours of rest, our bodies increase our white blood cell count—the same type of “fight or flight” response that stress induces. And stress, as we all know, can lead to acne. Getting a good sleep isn’t just for looks; it also helps keep us centered, happy, and healthy.
4. Beauty sleep helps our hair, too.
Depriving ourselves of sleep not only makes Mondays harder, but it also makes it harder for our hair to grow. When we’re short on Zs, our blood flow slows. Our hair depends on this blood flow for essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.
Plus, when we’re not getting enough sleep, we’re more stressed. More stress leads to more cortisol, which can lead to hair loss. Count that as one more reason to curl up in bed early tonight.
5. Sleep makes us smile more.
You know that on-edge feeling you just can’t shake after a late night out? When we’re well-rested, we’re less prone to irritability and anxiety. When we’re sleep deprived, our brain’s emotion regulator—the prefrontal lobe—shuts down, causing us to be more negative.
There’s also a strong link between insomnia and clinical depression and anxiety, which is further complicated by the fact that lack of sleep can worsen both of these conditions. If you feel unable to get out of a serious slump, it’s worth talking with your doctor. But for many of us, simply making an effort to move up our bedtimes can make a huge difference.
6. It’s just as important to hit the hay as it is to hit the gym.
We all know that sleepless nights do nothing for our morning gym motivation. But did you know a good night’s beauty sleep can help maintain a healthy weight and fast metabolism? Ghrelin and leptin, our appetite-controlling hormones, are affected by how long we sleep; when we get too little rest, we end up craving carbs and calories. Getting an adequate rest helps keep our metabolism and energy up.
7. A good rest balances skin’s pH levels.
When we’re low on sleep, our skin’s pH levels can get thrown out of whack. pH, which stands for "potential hydrogen,” describes the acid-alkaline ratio of something, ranging from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline).
When our skin is at its most healthy its natural pH ranges between 4 and 6, but lack of sleep can cause it to become too alkaline, making it harder to produce the moisture it needs. This can result in a dry, dull-looking complexion, increases the risk of wrinkles and sun damage, and can also lead to acne and redness. A sound sleep—7 to 9 hours, always—keeps skin radiant and glowing. Beauty sleep indeed.
For a simple, luxurious addition to your bedtime beauty routine, try our 100% organic Aknari Brightening Youth Serum. Joining antioxidant-rich prickly pear seed oil and moisturizing argan oil, this serum contains soothing Bulgarian rose essential oil, making for perfect pre-sleep aromatherapy. Aknari can also be incorporated into your morning routine, and is a great under-eye treatment for those (hopefully rare) days when you didn’t quite get the beauty sleep you needed.