We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. It’s not that we aren’t aware we should be getting more (or better quality) sleep, it’s just that we have just become too busy. I don’t have to preach about how sleep deprivation can affect your mood and cognitive function (this girl has pulled her share of late-night work sessions too), but it can also cause physical symptoms that go way beyond “looking tired”.
I sat down with The Body Shop Global Skincare Expert, Dr. Terry Loong, to talk about the science behind “beauty” sleep and how we can make the most out of those precious Zs. From preparing your body for sleep, to going to bed at the right time, to using beauty innovations to improve your natural physiological repair processes, Dr. Terry’s insight and advice was incredibly helpful—so of course, here I am to pass it along to you.Keep scrolling to learn about Dr. Terry’s tips on improving your beauty sleep.
We’ve all been told that it’s “not good” to eat too close to bed time, but do you know why? Not only is it confusing to tell your body to nourish and energize itself while simultaneously telling it to rest and go to sleep, but it can actually have implications on your skin too. When your brain dozes off, your body gets to work—it’s time to repair itself.
As you sleep, the skin is being renewed and hormones are hard at work—melatonin works as a powerful antioxidant to fight free radical damage and growth hormone builds collagen. However, when you go to bed with food in your stomach, these processes are put on hold as you dedicate your energy to digestion instead.
Dr. Terry recommends avoiding food for about 4 hours before going to sleep—which is typically how long digestion takes. It’s not always feasible with our busy schedules (especially when you read on to tip #2), but keeping this in mind may help you to make some wiser decisions like having lighter foods or soups in the evening instead of a large, heavy meal.
When I was in University, I used to think it didn’t matter when I went to sleep as long as I got enough sleep. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly true. Our bodies have their own biological clock, called the circadian rhythm, and although we are all born with one, it can be adjusted by environmental cues—like daylight and nighttime.
When melatonin starts being released, your body is telling itself that it’s “time to go to sleep.” If we ignore these cues and push through to stay awake, we start to release cortisol (the same hormone you release when feeling stressed). Even staying up a few hours longer than your body wants to will have cortisol pumping through your system, which suppresses the immune system and decreases healing responses.
Dr. Terry explains that even after you go to bed, this stress hormone is still swimming around and can cause adverse effects on your body while you’re trying to sleep. Of course, after a long time of conditioning, the circadian rhythm can be adjusted. If you’re occasionally pulling late-night work sessions or going out for a night on the town, your body won’t be familiar with the adjustment and will, you know… freak out a bit.
During the night, our skin looses moisture (no matter how rich that luxe face cream feels). Sleeping masks (aka “sleeping creams”) are designed to create almost a film-like barrier on the skin to keep moisture in, as well as ensuring your serums and other treatments are sealed in.
Sleeping masks have been widely popular in Asia for years now, and we’ve recently started to see them popping up in North America too. The Body Shop Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask ($30) goes beyond acting as a second-skin though—the formula is infused with Edelweiss plant stem cells (a hardy flower thriving in the harsh conditions of the Alps) to help boost the cell-renewing power of your own skin. The unique bouncy, memory-shape texture feels super lightweight on the skin (check out this video to see what I mean), but it’s not until the next morning when you wash it off that you realize it was definitely there (you’ll feel it)!
Dr. Terry swears by the Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask and even recommends using it on long-haul flights, in cold temperatures and even on a sunny holiday to replenish skin. In fact, if she’s not wearing makeup, Dr. Terry says there’s a good chance she’s wearing the sleeping mask (maybe that’s why she looked so youthful)!