1 June 2008

Sleeping Beauty

A very interesting, not to mention timely (for me), article I found in Feb's Tatler mag. The first couple of paragraphs are quite an eye-opener. Maybe I don't need that miracle cream after all; just a good dose of sleep.

(BTW I typed this out myself, so you may find the odd product (mispell) of lack of sleep, until I stumble upon them myself.)

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SLEEPING BEAUTY
courtesy of Tatler

There’s a new magic ingredient in the sleeping world and it doesn’t involve a knife or a laser – it’s sleep. Without a proper night’s sleep there’s a limit to how beautiful and even how thin you can be. If you’re getting anything under seven hours, you could be adding inches to your thights and years to your face.

‘Sleep is the reset button’, says Dr Irshaad Ebrahim of the London Sleep Centre, known by his well-heeled patients as Dr Sleep. ‘Lack of sleep means your body’s feelgood hormone, serotonin, is disruipted. This causes anxiety (which creates deep frown lines), impacts the immune system (leading to acne), and makes you crave carbs’. Great. If that’s not enough to get you tossing in yoru Egyptian-cotton sheets, there’s more. While we sleep our body releases growth hormones that, despite their name, stop you growing outwards because they control the proportion of fat to muscle. They also do essential maintenance; a deficit leads to incomplete repair (wrinkles are really tears in the skin), dryness, dullness, fine lines and loss of firmness. The other hormone controlled by sleep is leptin, which lets us know when we’re full. The University of Chicago has conducted a massive study and found that those getting fewer than seven hours had an increased appetite, craved junk food, and were more likely to be obese.

So why are we having so much trouble getting shut-eye and how do we reverse it? The thing is, our brain’s an adrenalin junkie and those nagging thoughts before we go to bed - like ‘Omigod! Will I sleep tonight?’ – kickstart the fight-or-flight response. This produces a physiological reaction: body temperature and blood pressure rise; heart rate and brain waves quicken; metabolism speeds up. The body responds to the threat of not getting a good night’s sleep by becoming hyper-aroused. These form patterns that create adrenalin pathways and stop our sleep hormone, melatonin, from working properly. Add to this the prevalence of electrical light, gadgets and urban noise, and it’s hard to get an undisturbed night’s sleep.

The beauty industry is responding to our sleep deficit. A top London dermatologist, who keeps Sadie’s and Kate’s faces glowing urges her patients to use melatonin to get vital skin-restoring REM sleep. Urban Retreat is installing MetroNaps (ergonomic pods that play music and gently wake you after the perfect napping time). Ultra-pampering Grayshott Spa is starting sleep retreats overseen by medical doctors. Chiva-Som, Kate Moss’s wipe-the-slate-clean-spa in Thailand, has just instituted sleep therapy as part of its anti-aging programme. And Dr Ebrahim (who cured Sarah O’Keefe, owner of Notting Hill’s the Cross boutique, after five years of insomnia) is taking his Sleep Centres to Edinburgh, Santiago and Shanghai.

Dr Sleep’s top tips

Bed is for sex and sleeping only
Wake up at the same time ever day no matter what. Lying-in and napping are prohibited. This will get you into a rhythm and you’ll fall asleep more easily.
Exercise in the mornings – at night it just gets your whole body revved up.
Go to bed only when you’re feeling sleepy, not because ‘it’s bedtime’. It’s all about sleep efficiency.
If you’re drinking alcohol, drink early (no, not 11am) and stop after dinner or you’re just sedating yourself and you’ll wake up four hours later when it wears off.
Set a wind down routine half an hour before bed. Do whatever makes you relax – whether it’s plucking your eyebrows or ironing.