What’s the link between sleep and beauty?
Many people say that staying up late takes its toll on the skin. In the deep sleep shortly after bedtime, the body secretes growth hormones that invigorate the metabolism and help to repair and rebuild the skin. The growth hormones can only confer their full effect if we get enough sleep and lead life with a balanced rhythm. The Japanese from centuries before had various customs to induce sleep. One of the most common was to burn incense in the bedroom before retiring.
Japanese-style bathing for quality sleep
The traditional way to bathe in Japan is to soak leisurely in warm water. This sort of bath deepens sleep by improving the micro-circulation and relaxing the body and mind. If you lack time or have no custom of bathing before bed, it’s a good idea at least to bathe your hands and feet in warm water.
The best conditions for a deep sleep
- Change the curtains and furniture in your bedroom to a color that helps you relax.
- Choose absorbent cotton or another soft-feeling fabric for your bedclothes.
- Create a tranquil, not-too-bright environment in your room before going to sleep.
- Adjust the temperature and humidity to a pleasant condition. If the room is too hot or cold, open a window or use an air-conditioner or heater.
- Find some way to relax before going to sleep. Listen to music, read a book, or apply pressure to shiatsu points.
The effects of fragrance for sleep
Even if you live in a country where room incenses aren’t conventionally used for relaxation, you can try lavender and other scents used in aromatherapy blends for pleasant sleep. The gentle sedative effects of these herbal scents remove obstacles to sleep by allaying fatigue, stress, tension, and excitement. But remember that repeated use of a single essential oil over time may produce diminishing effects. Try switching from one essential oil to another, to match your mood. The best oils for sleep are lavender, Roman chamomile, ylang ylang, rosewood, neroli oil, geranium, clary sage, marjoram, and sandalwood.
Food and supplements for sleep
Food is also closely connected to good-quality sleep. The hormone melatonin, which induces sleep and regulates the sleep cycle, is especially abundant in cereals such as unpolished rice and wheat, in legumes such as soybeans, and in root vegetables such as carrots and daikon radishes. Vitamin B complex, a component of many vegetables, assists the generation and absorption of melatonin. Vitamin B12, a nutrient abundant in marine produce such as fish, shellfish and seaweed, enhances the synchronization functions of our body clocks.
- Herb teas:
- Lime-tree blossom, German chamomile, St. John’s wort, valerian, passion flower, dill, basil, etc. Especially recommended is a pinch of German chamomile to soy milk or ordinary milk.
- Soy milk or ordinary milk, bananas, onions, spring onions, chives, garlic, unpolished rice, soy sauce, miso, wholegrain food, oatmeal, lettuce, and other green vegetables.
- Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, calcium, DHA, etc.
Alcoholic beverages and sleep
Many people have a nightcap before bed to help them sleep. This can be truly helpful for getting to sleep. Yet alcohol may lighten the sleep in the second half of the sleep cycle. It also has a diuretic effect: though falling asleep may be easy, nature’s call is likely to rouse you a few hours later. On balance, we prefer not to drink alcohol before bed.
The importance of a varied lifestyle rhythm
The circadian rhythm, the clock-like rhythm of the body, oscillates through a cycle closer to 25 hours than to 24. Day by day, our bodies operate slightly out of sync with the natural light-dark cycle of the planet. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, secretes readily in darkness but scarcely in light. Exposure to abundant light in the morning and avoidance of bright light in the evening will improve one’s sleep. Dim lighting in the bedroom before sleep is also key. Active daytimes out of doors in the sunlight enhance the circadian rhythm. Fourteen hours after rising from a proper night’s sleep, melatonin will begin secreting and sleepiness will set in. If you find your bedtime getting later and later day by day, you can rest your body clock by waking up at the same time every day and exposing yourself to sunlight.