Anyone with a mirror can tell you that beauty sleep is indeed a real thing. And while silly studies have confirmed as much by “measuring” that people look more attractive when rested (uh—duh!)—nobody has looked at the causal relationship between sleep and the factors that contribute to skin aging. Until now.
A new study conducted by University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center—and commissioned by the good folks at Estee Lauder (part of some new-product PR ploy, no doubt)—has explored the link between sleep and skin. Here’s what they found:
“Poor sleepers had increased signs of skin aging and slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) radiation.”
The study involved 60 women aged 30 to 49, about half of whom fell into the category of “poor” sleepers (sad face, I think they could have found a kinder term… sleep challenged?). The classification was based on a series of criteria, obvious stuff like length and quality of sleep.
Using something called the SCINEXA—a skin aging scoring system—the researchers found significant differences in the way that the skin of poor vs good sleepers behaved and recovered from environmental stresses.
Poor sleepers showed greater signs of what’s called intrinsic skin aging symptoms—fine lines, skin elasticity, uneven pigmentation etc—while good sleepers showed faster recovery time from stressors to the skin, like sunburns.
According to Dr. Baron, Director of the Skin Study Center at UH Case Medical Center: “Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging.”
But poor sleep has become something of a national epidemic. So it’s hard to say whether this is good news or bad.
I’m happy to report that I’m quite a strong sleeper (people close to me might even say that I’m a sleep glutton). So this study is a bit of a relief because I’ve been very “poor” at the other science-tested method to prevent skin-aging: applying daily sunscreen, rain or shine. (That’s about to change though. The new research is just too darn compelling to ignore.)
How do you feel about it? And what premium do you place on getting your beauty sleep?
PS. This is the coolest thing I read these past few weeks. But now that my summer travel bonanza has ended, I’m going to bring more cool stuff back.
“Does anyone actually use aromatherapy every day?!”
I was asked this very reasonable question the other day at work. My answer: “Have you ever been in my office?”
I get it, though. Even for those of us who embrace integrative medicine, use organic beauty products and regularly get stuck with tiny needles, aromatherapy can seem a little frou-frou: an indulgence, a touch cosmetic. For a long time, that’s how I felt. Sure, I always had some cheap lavender by the bed. An old friend called it my “sleep juice” because I’d developed a habit of dabbing a little on the skin under my nose before retiring, but that’s as far as I went. I suspected aromatherapy might be a very useful tool, if only I could remember to use the stuff.
Since then I’ve developed a more sophisticated relationship with essential oils. If you haven’t done the same, I’d like to encourage you to.
That’s because aromatherapy can, I believe, kill a cold in its tracks, transform your stressful day into a productive one, help you unwind after work, gear you up for important meetings, and, much more simply, make you feel happy. It also has the added benefit of helping those around you, too, without them even realizing it.
I’m getting pretty deep into researching how aromatherapy really works and when I’m done, I’ll share that. For now, I’ll share the six products, from three lines, that I use every single day:
We’ve discussed this one before. As much as it is, in fact, an irritability zapper, this is also my daily perfume. There’s no getting around it: People freak out when they smell it. It’s impossible to describe, but it’s complex and gorgeous and unlike anything I’ve ever smelled. A lady on the train stopped me the other week—it’s the only way I can handle commuting on the jam-packed 4 train at 8 am—and asked me what I was wearing. I dug into my giant bag and produced the little vial to show her. Her eyes went wild while she smelled it, so I invited her to put some on. She did, and then pulled out a notebook to write down its name. “You made everyone on the train happy just by coming on this car!” I melted…and I kind of think she was right.
When I use it: Before I get on the subway in the morning, before hot dates, before important meetings.
How it makes me feel: Like…myself? In a good way.
We wrote in the book that we’d wear this as perfume, too, if it weren’t for its completely unsubtle narcotic properties. This stuff knocks me out, inducing sleep as deep as a baby’s. I like to shake a few drops onto my hands, cup them over my nose, then take 10 very deep breaths. I try not to do this every night, lest it stop working at some point. I gave this stuff to a colleague when she was going through a terrible breakup and she swore up and down it worked. I’ve subjected boyfriends to it, too. I’ve yet to find someone upon whom it does not cast a sleepy spell.
When I use it: Only the second I’m ready to sleep. It works usually within 10 minutes.
How it makes me feel: Couldn’t tell you. I’m asleep, remember?
3. Hope Gillerman Travel Remedy. Hope Gillerman is, I’m convinced, the standard-bearer for high-quality, potent EOs that work almost medicinally—and I’m not just saying that because she’s my next-door neighbor. She’s a natural healer, and I first met her a couple of years ago when she gave me a complimentary Alexander Technique treatment. That was so cool! Even cooler, for me at the time, was the aromatherapy 101 class she gave me before the session. I left her office with the Stress Remedy, which I adore. But lately, my go-to is her Travel Remedy. I wrote about it recently, when I started using it to fend off a seasonal cold. I’ve also used her Muscle Relief on my achey bones (and the achey bones of skeptics): always works. And on my desk at work, I have her Tension Remedy. It’s invigorating and a little zesty, perking me up when I’m computer-tired or anxious about a big meeting. Works every time.
When I use it: All day. Travel Remedy when I feel rundown; Stress when I’m feeling unshiny and haggard from a tough day; Muscle after a killer yoga glass or boot camp; Tension on the go, during the work day.
How it makes me feel: I’ve already explained this, but let me add: The Stress and Tension remedies make me feel much more present, much more in the moment.
Your turn. What’s been your experience with aromatherapy? Anything you love or—gasp—can’t live without?
Yeah we know, file this one under duh, but a new study in Sweden actually went to the trouble of proving that people are more attractive when they’re rested.
According to this MSNBC article (and many others who’ve reported on this breaking story), researchers gathered 23 healthy adults and took before and after pictures, the afters being after 31 hours of sleep deprivation. Then they were rated by 65 strangers.
Not surprisingly, the subjects were found to look better after 8 hours of sleep and “4 percent less attractive, 6 percent less healthy and 19 percent more tired” after not sleeping for 31 hours.
Pretty straightforward stuff. The only thing that I find confusing is that the guy they chose to show as their example (pictured above)—who is well rested on the left and sleepless on the right—looks way better to me in his tired state. Does anyone else agree?
You can see the whole study in the British Medical Journal. And here’s what we want to know: When it comes to sleep, is beauty a motivator for you to get more?
Image via the study