Sleep. Are you getting your 7 - 9 hours?

Newborn babies sleep almost all the time. Kids do it about a dozen hours a day. Most adults don't do it enough.

Are you getting enough? If you're not getting at least eight hours in, chances are you need more. Not just for the fact that you won't be groggy, but do it for the sake of good skincare.

Sufficient, uninterrupted sleep is needed so that the body can regenerate cells and tissue, including those of the skin. It also helps the body cope with free radicals, which are thought to accelerate aging.

Recently I acted as an event coordinator and I certainly did not meet my quota. Lots of little details to be looked after left me with a rest deficit. My favorite skincare products helped me camouflage my weary facial features, but they are no substitute for relaxing, renewing, restful shut-eye.

When you sleep, your breathing and heart rate slow down, your body temperature cools off just a bit and your muscles relax. There are about five stages including REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM. The first stage is a light sleep phase. You drift in and out and may experience a sensation of falling and muscle contractions. (I hate it when that happens!)

Sleep

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Stage 2 of has little eye movement and the brain waves slow down. Stages 3 and 4 are the deep stages. At this point, the stages repeat in reverse. Basically, when you sleep, it goes stage 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 3 - 2 - REM. Weird, I know.

In the REM phase is where you do most of your dreaming. Breathing becomes more rapid and brain waves increase. The first period of REM usually lasts 10 minutes, and each recurring REM stage will last longer than the previous one, with the final one lasting about an hour.

A 20-minute "power nap" during your day can make a big difference. No more than 20 minutes, though or you might become groggy and you won't be able to go to sleep when it's time for bed. Also, exercise during your day will help you rest better when bedtime rolls around.

Avoid caffeine (sodas, coffee, tea, chocolate), heavy meals and exercise for a few hours before you go to bed. If you're a smoker, quit. It not only is unhealthy for you, but it can increase heart rate and brainwave activity, making it hard to fall asleep. Consuming alcoholic beverages may help you to fall asleep, but it may also cause you to wake up later on. When consumed in large quantities, it's not good for your skin, either.


Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. No TV's or computers allowed! Just a cozy, quiet, warm, atmosphere with a good comfortable mattress and pillow. Face the alarm clock away from you so that if you do awaken, you won't have bright numbers glaring at you. A good alternative is an alarm clock which projects the time onto the ceiling after a button is pressed. You can also use a mask to cover your eyes.



If you can't sleep, try reading a book. If that doesn't work, try reading a boring book. That usually works for me. If you still can't get off to dreamland, try soaking in a hot relaxing bath or listening to those nature sounds CD's of waterfalls or whatever soothes you.

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