The health and beauty of a good night's sleep
by Cathy Gatson
Sleeping is a necessity, not a luxury. A good night's sleep is just as crucial to maintaining wellness as is a healthy diet and proper exercise.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is a restorative process. While we're sleeping, our brain is cycling through the 3 stages of sleep: light, deep and REM. Sleep restores, rejuvenates and energizes the body and brain. Our immune systems are recharged, cells grow and repair themselves, and our bodies conserve energy.
Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
Unfortunately, to many sleep is not valued. In this "open all night" society we now live in, four out of ten Americans are trading much-needed sleep hours for longer hours at the office, gym, club and other activities which seem more important or interesting. What they may not realize is that lack of sleep takes a toll on our mental and physical well being. Studies performed by the National Sleep Foundation show that even minimal sleep loss has a profoundly detrimental impact on mood, cognition, performance, productivity, communication skills, accident rates and general health. For optimal functioning throughout the day, the average adult needs between seven to nine hours sleep a night. According to the NSF, the American adult population functions on about six and a half hours of sleep per night.
For some, lack of sleep is not a choice, but a condition. Millions of Americans suffer from insomnia. According to the NSF, a third of Americans are using over the counter or prescription sleep aids at night. If you suffer from insomnia, here are a few tips to help you get some shut eye:
· Pray before bedtime. The bible tells us to "Cast your burden upon the Lord. Don't go to bed with a heavy load. Give it to God. Remember Joy comes in the morning"
· Avoid caffeinated food and beverages like coffee, teas, soft drinks and chocolate 3 to 4 hours before bedtime.
· Exercise regularly, but complete your workout at least three hours before bedtime. Keep your body calm.
· Make sure your mattress is the right one for you. Flip your mattress over periodically.
· Develop a bedtime ritual. Taking a warm bath 90 minutes before bedtime will relax your body and usually make you feel sleepy.
· Make sure your bedroom is quiet and comfortable.
· Have a cup of warm milk.
· Play relaxing music.
· Go to bed and wake up the same time every day. When your sleep cycle has a regular rhythm you will feel better.
Be a Sleeping Beauty
A friend of mine once told me that a woman should present herself to her husband at bedtime like a present. Interesting? so I polled a few colleagues and found overall most husbands prefer their wives to be lingerie clad at bedtime. Nude came in a very close second and pajamas were considered very un-sexy. Wives preferred their hubbys wear only boxers to bed. Whatever your sleepwear preference, bedtime is the opportunity to prepare your mind and body for the rest it deserves. Here are a few more tips to help you sleep pretty:
· Always remove your makeup and cleanse your face thoroughly before bed (Oil of Olay Foaming Face Wash for Sensitive Skin). Going to bed without washing your face not only leads to mascara-stained sheets (Andrea Eye Q's eye makeup remover pads $3.50+ voted best by Allure Magazines 1999) but the dirt picked up during the day can clog pores and lead to acne.
· Brush and floss your teeth.
· Vaseline works wonders on rough spots while you sleep. Try it on feet, elbows, and knees and dab a little on your lips too.
· There are several night creams on the market now claiming to be more effective if applied at bedtime, here are a few to try: Lancome - Primoridale Intense Night Cream $41.50, Murad Perfecting Night Cream $41.50. If these prices are more than you normally spend then L'Oreal Age Perfect Night Cream and Oil of Olay ProVital night creams are available at Wal-Mart and Target. Prices range from $14 - $15.
· If you wrap your hair in a scarf at bedtime, remember to wash it regularly.
· Wear your fancy nighties to bed. Don't save them for a special occasion. You are a special occasion.
· After your bath or shower ritual slather on a lotion that relaxes you and helps you fall asleep like Origins Night-a-mins moisture lotion or Calm to Your Senses Body Souflee.
· Marilyn Monroe is said to only have worn Chanel No.5 to bed but if you prefer something a little lighter then Issey Miyake's L'Eau D'Issey Soothing Night Fragrance is a good pick.
Here's wishing you brighter days and more restful nights!
Cathy Gatson is a freelance writer and owner/operator of a hair and body salon located in Northern California.