Image: "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
It’s a formula: eight hours of uninterrupted sleep plus an anti-aging sleep position plus a glow-enhancing product equals your best complexion.
Any beauty-loving millennial worth her face-mask-stocked medicine cabinet knows the importance of beauty sleep—what she may not know is how to actually get it.
Growing up, it sounded easy enough: Go to bed when your parents tell you to, fall effortlessly into REM sleep and wake up naturally eight to ten hours later. Ah! We can dream.
You probably know that not getting your beauty sleep means more than just sporting glossy eyes and dark circles the next day, but you may not know (or have understandably been refusing to acknowledge) the long-term impact a heinous night’s sleep can have on your skin. One study conducted by the Skin Study Center staff at Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals found a correlation between poor sleep quality and premature signs of aging skin, as well as a weakened skin barrier function (which is what prevents irritants from seeping in). Scary, right? I hope that insight doesn’t keep you up at night like it did for me.
I reached out to Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, certified dermatologist and founding director of Bay Dermatology Centre in Toronto, to learn her tips on getting some beauty sleep.
1. How can I reliably fall asleep and have an interrupted night’s rest?
Dr. Skotnicki’s recommends:
- Relaxing by performing calming tasks (like reading a book or taking a bath) and avoiding emotional or otherwise upsetting conversations or events at nighttime.
- Avoiding stimulants like coffee close to bedtime. Alcohol can help you fall asleep, but it only works in moderation. “While alcohol is well-known to help you fall asleep faster, too much close to bedtime can disrupt sleep in the second half of the night as the body begins to process the alcohol,” says Dr. Skotnicki.
- Avoiding heavy, rich, spicy, fatty and fried foods, as well as citrus fruits and carbonated beverages. They can cause indigestion and lead to heartburn, which will keep you up at night.
- Exercising—it can help improve the quality of sleep. “As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can drastically improve nighttime sleep quality,” says Dr. Skotnicki.
- Create a soothing environment with comfortable bedding, proper window coverings (a sleep mask can help if you can’t help prevent light from shining through) and perhaps a white noise machine.
I’ve tried all of these as well as meditating, Melatonin, prescription sleeping pills and cannabis oil. The most effective treatment I’ve found is also the most inconvenient—eliminating the situations causing me stress. (Good luck to me.)
Slip Sleep Mask, US $50, anthropologie.com.
Sterline Electronic Natural Sound Machine, $9, amazon.ca.
2. Are there sleeping positions that can help or hinder the look of my skin?
You probably know the answer to this one—sleeping on your back is best. “Patients often come to me with sleep lines around their temples or jawline from chronic pressure on the skin from sleeping on their sides,” says Dr. Skotnicki. “Increase lines between the breasts in the décolletage can also accumulate due to sleeping on your side.”
Have a hard time sleeping on your back? Yeah, me too, but a silk pillowcase can make sleeping on your side a little easier on your skin. You know when you wake up with a crease on your face from the pillow? Although those marks don’t usually last long, they can have a long-term impact because as you age, skin loses its ability to continuously bounce back from such marks. A silk pillowcase (my favourite is by Slip) reduces pressure on the skin and allows it to slip along the pillow, instead of being smooshed into fabric folds. Plus, they can prevent your skin from becoming dry. “Silk pillowcases may have less ability to draw moisture from your skin and hair compared to cotton,” says Dr. Skotnicki, “so they could contribute to less dry skin.” And we all know that hydrated skin is essential for delaying signs of aging. Furthermore, silk pillowcases help skin care products stay put, so your products are more effective.
Slip Silk Sleep Mask, US $85, anthropologie.com.
3. How can I wake up with a smooth, glowy, completely perfect complexion?
Dr. Skotnicki says moisturizer is key, but there’s no one-size-fits-all product, as it depends on the condition of the skin. If your skin is on the dry side, sleep with a cool mist humidifier, which can be especially useful in the cold, dry winter. As for which product to choose, you need to identify your skin concerns first. So, I’ve highlighted five of the best nighttime moisturizers (all under $100) I’ve tried and/or have loyal fans sharing their love for the product online. Here they are, categorized by what you may be looking for.
1. Super hydrating: This isn't just an incredible moisturizer French girls (and the wannabe French) love, it's also a moisturizing mask, primer, makeup remover and skin soother.
Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre, $40, shoppersdrugmart.ca.
2. Anti-Aging: Retinol is the go-to ingredient to look for in your night cream if you're looking to prevent signs of aging. This retinol overnight cream plumps skin, minimizing the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Rodial Dragon's Blood Hyaluronic Acid Night Cream, $90, shoppersdrugmart.ca.
3. Brightening: You'll need a moisturizer with glycolic acid, like Caudalie's Vinoperfect night cream. It exfoliates the skin when you sleep to lighten acne scars and dark spots and brush away dead skin cells to reveal a luminous complexion.
Caudalie Vinoperfect Overnight Glycolic Cream, $68, sephora.com.
4. Restore sensitive skin: This product helps rebuild the skin barrier that could have been weakened by your sucky sleep pattern. It lifts and forms the skin, so it's like a facelift in a jar.
Korres Black Pine 3D Sleeping Facial, $82, shoppersdrugmart.ca.
5. Light and revitalizing: It's a whipped formula, making it lighter on the skin compared to the thick, heavy alternatives, but still provides plenty of hydration.
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream, $75, sephora.com.