beauty sleepI know that I don’t write about adult sleep often, but I think that sometimes it’s okay to talk about something other than our babies. After all, we parents need sleep, too! I came across some interesting research this week, from a surprising source: Estee Lauder. While it’s no surprise that a lack of sleep can have serious consequences for your health, the researchers at University Hospitals Case Medical Center have conducted a clinical trial that offers further insight into the effects of sleep on skin.
If you needed a nudge toward everyone in your family getting quality sleep, the results of this new study may be it. Researchers found that poor sleepers showed increased signs of skin aging, as well as slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as sun exposure. Not surprisingly, poor sleepers also had poor self esteem when it came to their skin.
According to Dr. Elma Baron, Director of the Skin Study Center at UH Case Medical Center and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “Insufficient sleep has become a worldwide epidemic.”
Dr. Daniel Yarosh, Senior Vice President, Basic Science Research, R&D, at The Estée Lauder Companies stated that “these connections between sleep and skin aging, now supported with solid scientific data, will have a profound effect on how we study skin and its functions.”
Interestingly, the research, while mostly focused on skin quality and repair, also uncovered some additional facts about poor sleep quality:
• Recovery from sunburn was more sluggish, and
• A higher Body Mass Index (BMI) was found in those with poor sleep quality.
But what does this mean for you? I’ve written about the importance of sleep for the whole family (LINK), and even given you ideas to help you get better quality sleep (LINK to mom article), but what I take away from this is the importance of good sleep practices for the entire family.
There’s a reason we feel groggy and out of focus when we don’t get quality sleep. Take a look at your sleep habits (and your children’s) and see if there are areas that could use some improvement. Here are some things that you should evaluate when you are looking at your sleep habits:

Keep a Consistent Sleep Routine

Just like our children, our bodies also benefit from a consistent sleep cycle. If you can, try to make sure that you go to bed at the same time each night, and set your alarm for a consistent wake up each morning (or just listen for your baby…sometimes they make the best alarms). You’ll find that your body may be more responsive to sleep if it’s used to a consistent routine. Be prepared for this to take a few weeks, however, as you’re essentially relearning good sleep habits.

Understand Your Sleep Needs

Did you know that the National Sleep Foundation advises that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night? During sleep, we all cycle through REM and non-REM sleep. These different sleep stages are important and aid in our body’s ability to heal, as well as help to increase cognitive function and reaction times. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation found that those who slept less than 7 hours per night were significantly more impaired when it comes to alertness and reaction time. Not good if you’re driving or chasing a toddler around!
Make sure that you get yourself to bed early enough that you can clock the recommended hours each night. Remember, your babies wake early!
Although not ideal, if you find that you aren’t able to get the recommended hours all at once, it’s okay to ‘make up’ time through naps. (If you’re a new mom, remember, it’s important to sleep while your babies sleep. Since you’ll be up at night) If you do need a nap, try to aim for an early afternoon nap of at least 30 minutes. Please remember that just like our babies, we really need a long stretch of uninterrupted sleep at night to reap the benefits.

Make Time For Exercise

Daily exercise helps your body to regulate its sleep cycle, and helps you feel more invigorated and have more energy (surprising but true!). Exercise also helps you sleep better at night.

Get Outside

Sunlight helps our bodies regulate melatonin production, and will help our bodies wake up each morning. Try to go for a morning walk in lieu of your coffee, open the blinds, and enjoy the day.

Encourage Melatonin Production

At night, make sure that you close the blinds, avoid bright light, and limit (or eliminate) screens as they are quite stimulating. In your bedroom, make sure that you have a nightlight or flashlight to help you see if you need to wake during the night. Your bedroom should be cool and dark.

What helps you sleep at night?

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For a more about the study please see the UH Case Medical Center and Estee Lauder Effects of Sleep Quality on Skin Aging and Function 
photo credit: Betsssssy via photopin cc