We all know that sleep is crucial for youthful skin. Six Senses Sleep Doctor Michael J. Breus shares the top three sleep challenges facing women (and, of course, how to overcome them).
The most important contributor to our health is sleep. We have worked with internationally renowned Sleep Doctor Michael J. Breus to roll out our enhanced sleep standard, Sleep With Six Senses. It adds a new dimension to your holiday and the benefits can last a lifetime.
But did you know that women generally have more difficulties sleeping than men?
The first challenge comes from women’s hormones – they can wreak havoc during premenstrual and menstrual times of the month— leading to difficulty getting to sleep, night-time awakenings, sleep disturbances, and vivid dreams.
While the hormone estrogen, which is present in both sexes but more abundant in women, increases REM sleep, the female hormone progesterone, which rises at midcycle, after ovulation, causes feelings of fatigue and drowsiness. When menstruation begins and the progesterone level begins to fall, women have greater difficulties falling asleep and often experience poor sleep quality for a few days. As a woman’s cycle begins again, normal sleep (if not good sleep) usually returns. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, about 70 percent of menstruating women say their sleep is disrupted during their periods by symptoms like breast tenderness, bloating, cramps, and headaches.
Natural sleep tips for PMS and your period:
- Increase your intake of liquids to help flush out excess sodium that causes water retention and bloating just before and during your period. This will help decrease any feelings of discomfort that make sleep difficult.
- Take extra calcium. In a study commissioned by the manufacturer of Tums (an OTC antacid medication containing calcium carbonate), taking 1,200 milligrams (mg) calcium daily resulted in a 50 percent decrease in PMS symptoms. Bloating was reduced by 36 percent, food cravings by 54 percent, and psychological symptoms by 46 percent. In addition, calcium has sedating properties, which can improve sleep quality.
- Take 400 mg magnesium. Studies show that magnesium affects mood by boosting the level of serotonin, the calming neurotransmitter in the brain. When combined with calcium, magnesium is a good muscle relaxant.15 Of course, being relaxed is important to falling asleep easily.
- Take 100 mg vitamin B6, which also helps you produce serotonin. But be careful: In some people, B6 can have an energizing effect.
- Starting at 2:00 p.m., eliminate all caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger anxiety, making it difficult to fall asleep.
- Try to exercise in the early morning sunlight rather than bedtime as the latter can key you up and make it more difficult to fall asleep. Natural sunlight also increases your melatonin levels and is vital for promoting your serum vitamin D level.
- Don’t drink alcohol within three hours of bedtime. While drinking alcohol may make you feel sleepier, alcohol also keeps you out of the deep stages of sleep, which are important for feeling refreshed when you awaken.
The second challenge with sleep loss is that it can lead to an increased amount of calories taken in, or a decrease in calories burned off. In a revealing study, scientists at the University of Chicago allowed people to sleep 5.5 hours on one night and 8.5 on another and then measured how many free snacks they downed the next day. The participants ate an average of 221 calories more when sleepy—an amount that could translate into almost a pound gained in two weeks!
In another study that reviewed short sleep (less than 6 hours) in young adults, researchers concluded that after poor sleep, the increase in appetite for foods with high carbohydrate content was particularly strong. It was as if the sleep-deprived brain craved its primary fuel, glucose, which your body produces from carbs.
Tips for keeping your weight in check with the Sleep Doctor’s diet plan:
- Eat small meals that are high in protein and fiber every 3 to 4 hours up until 7:00 p.m. The protein–fiber combination will help stabilize your blood sugar and you won’t find yourself starving at dinner time or bingeing on late-night snacks like you would with fewer meals per day.
- Eliminate calorie-laden sodas and juices from your diet. These calories definitely add up. Substitute mineral water or herbal teas for these drinks. Try flavored water or add a twist of a citrus fruit or cucumber slices to plain water. Even zero-calorie soda is not advised because the carbonation will give you gas and keep you awake or in a light-sleep stage.
- Use an olive oil cooking spray instead of butter or margarine. Using this cooking spray can cut hundreds of calories from each dish you prepare.
Sleeping Beauty may have had the ultimate secret to looking great and maintaining that soft, dewy skin of a twenty something. The Los Angeles Times reported on the “best skincare treatment,” readers might have been surprised to learn that it wasn’t a new cosmeceutical or USD 500-per-ounce skin cream. It doesn’t get any cheaper or more universally accessible than this: sleep.
Poor sleep can definitely make you look older as it makes your skin look swollen and ashen and accentuates the deep reddish blue color under your eyes (dark circles). In addition, because sleep deprivation leads to poor circulation (which is how hair and skin get their nutrients), poor sleep is linked to facial wrinkles and thinning hair.
In a study reported in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, researchers tested sleep-deprived women and found that their skin was more susceptible to outside allergens and bacteria. For some women, lack of sleep can worsen acne, rosacea, and dermatitis. Other studies have shown that poor sleep ultimately reduces immunity and results in skin that is dehydrated, wrinkled, pale, and unable to repair itself quickly.
Take up the Sleep Challenge:
Recently, to test his sleep diet hypothesis, Dr. Breus worked with Glamour magazine and recruited women to help us investigate the link between sleep and weight loss. The participants were given some simple instructions.
- Get 7.5 hours of sleep on the same schedule each night.
- Start a bedtime routine.
- Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake if they are high.
- Experiment with exactly how much sleep you need.
- Continue with your normal eating habits and exercise routine.
The women agreed to follow these strategies and to ensure that they were sleeping at least 7.5 hours each night. They weren’t even asked to make any changes to their eating habits or exercise routine. And the results were clear: longer sleep allowed them to lose weight.
Renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Breus is a member of the Six Senses Integrated Wellness Board, which has created a pioneering Sleep With Six Senses program that adds a new dimension to your stay. Why not ask about arranging a personal consultation with a Sleep Ambassador to start the ball rolling?
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