sleep better tonight, look better tomorrow

photo by miikka skaffari

photo by miikka skaffari

getting a restful night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do to live an acne-free lifestyle. our bodies restore and heal themselves while we sleep, so to get – and keep – clear skin getting a deep, restful sleep every night is key… they call it “beauty rest” for a reason! (plus, since you’ve kicked the coffee habit, it will help you stay alert, focused, and energized throughout the day without coffee’s nasty side effects.)

if you’re having trouble getting your 7 – 9 hours every night, there are some simple changes you can try incorporating into your daily routine that will help.

no more bright screens before bedtime

you likely already spend your whole day looking at some combination of computer screens, smartphones, tvs, and ipads, so why not give it a rest for a couple of hours before you’re ready to sleep? the brightness from the screens represses your melatonin production, which in turn makes it hard to sleep.

if you’re someone who typically unwinds by watching tv or spending time on your computer, why not try reading a book (just not on an ipad,) taking a bath, having a cup of herbal tea, or maybe a glass of red wine (just don’t overdo it, alcohol can diminish sleep quality.) if you’re concerned about missing your favorite shows, you can always DVR them or watch them online during the day later in the week, when the screen brightness won’t affect your sleep patterns.

for more info check out chris kresser’s in-depth article on how artificial light could be affecting your sleep.

catch some rays

just as staring at a bright screen at night can mess with your melatonin levels, not getting enough natural light during the day can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. if you spend your day in a cubicle, or otherwise deprived of natural light, be sure to take every opportunity to get some sun. go for a walk during your lunch break, find a workspace near a window, open up the curtains in your home. even little things like not wearing sunglasses in the morning can help your body more easily recognize daytime vs. nighttime and regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

eat right and exercise more

we all know that eating right and exercising more are essential parts of living a healthier lifestyle – and they play a huge part in promoting restful sleep. exercising during the day helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle, and not eating within two hours of bedtime will lead to a more restful sleep. no need to be a gym rat either, 30 minutes moderate exercise like walking or biking will yield the same sleep benefits as more intense exercise — you can even break it up into shorter times throughout the day.

if you find that you’re hungry before bed try having a snack like a banana or a small bowl of granola with almond milk (some studies suggest that a small amount of carbohydrates before bed can aid with sleep.) or try a snack that’s high in tryptophan, the chemical responsible for promoting a healthy sleep cycle, like a few slices of turkey or a handful of pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, or cashews.

chill out on the caffeine after lunch

it’s probably no surprise that caffeine can seriously disrupt your sleep patterns. for most people, a little bit of caffeine in the morning is fine, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid all caffeinated beverages after lunch since caffeine can take up to 10 – 12 hours to metabolize. if you find that you’re still having trouble sleeping, try cutting out caffeine altogether and have an apple and large glass of cold water in the morning — studies suggest that doing so is even more energizing than having a cup of coffee.

avoid drinking liquids in the evening

stop drinking water, tea, juice, and any other liquids an hour or so before you go to bed, so you’ll be less likely to wake in the middle of the night needing to pee. if you find that you’re really thirsty throughout the night, it likely means you’re dehydrated, so concentrate on drinking water throughout the day instead of at bedtime or in the middle of the night.

quit smoking

smoking is detrimental for lots of reasons (it makes acne worse!), but it is specifically troublesome for sleeping. nicotine is a stimulant, and stimulants disrupt sleep (especially if you’re smoking in the evenings.) furthermore, smokers experience increasing withdrawal symptoms throughout the night, making it really difficult to stay asleep.

get stress and anxiety in check

stress and anxiety can create serious sleep problems. if you can’t stop thinking about work or school and the million things you have to get done the next day, try jotting down a quick to-do list. the simple task of collecting your thoughts and writing them out, will help get them off your mind so you can concentrate getting the rest you need. worrying at bedtime doesn’t accomplish anything other than to disrupt your sleep, instead try some relaxation techniques like deep breathing, visualizing a peaceful night sleep, or progressive muscle relaxation (tense up your whole body as tight as you can, then slowly relax each muscle group starting with your toes all the way up to your head.)

doing yoga in the evenings is also a great way to relax, and bonus, it counts towards your daily 30 minutes of exercise.

find a bedtime routine that works for you

the two hours before bed should be spent doing activities that relax you, not stimulate you, so make sure to get your invigorating tasks out of the way before it’s time to start winding down. for instance, if you find that washing your face wakes you up, do it earlier in the evening. or, if you find that you relax after a shower or bath, take one before bed.

pay attention to what it feels like to fall asleep

when i was a kid, i noticed that when i start to fall asleep, my mind thinks of lots of random things. since then, whenever i have trouble falling asleep, i’ll start to think of things that are totally unrelated (like free-association, but where the associations don’t make any sense) and before i know it, i’m drifting off! if you are able to model your thought or breathing patterns before you actually fall asleep, that can help to trick your mind and body into relaxing to the point that you end up really asleep!

we hope these tips help! if you have any tricks of your own, let us know in the comments. we are always looking for new ways to ensure a peaceful and restful night’s sleep so we wake up feeling (and looking) our best.

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