Written by Yu Ming O'Neil
Co-founder of Sparkle Wellness
Medically endorsed by Dr. Mani Kukreja
Sleep is one of the non-negotiable essentials to our health and well-being. Our body needs quality sleep to repair and rejuvenate everything from our brain to our hormones.
Our ability to get a good night’s sleep seems to decline as we age — up to 50 per cent of people 65 and older suffer from regular sleep disturbances, according to this study.Why does sleep suffer when you grow older?
“The body starts to produce less melatonin which is integral to regulating our sleep-wake cycle,” points out Dr. Mani Kukreja, the founder of Livagewell, an integrative health and wellness coaching practice.
She continues, “Older people suffer from chronic medical conditions, like arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease which can cause pain or discomfort that interfere with the ability to get restful sleep. In addition, medications for these conditions can have side effects that disrupt sleep.”
This then leads to a cascade of negative consequences for our health. With fragmented sleep, everything is affected — from your immune system (you are three times more likely to catch a cold), to your memory, cognitive function, mental well-being, and even skin health.
Sleep is absolutely necessary to repair skin at night when the body experiences a surge in HGH (human growth hormone), which rebuilds body tissues, drives cells to increase production and rejuvenates the dermis.
That’s why if you don’t sleep enough at night, your skin will experience a drop in collagen production, which contributes to aging skin.
Research also shows that prolonged lack of sleep can compromise skin health because of the negative impact on the immune system which cripples the body’s ability to produce collagen. Not getting enough quality sleep heightens inflammation in the skin, which then affects the integrity of the extracellular matrix proteins, especially collagen.
Keep to a regular sleep schedule
A simple first step is to have a consistent bedtime and wake time, even on the weekend to help regulate your circadian rhythm. This is a cornerstone of sleep hygiene so you can readily fall asleep and wake up easily every day.
Get enough movement
According to this study, moderate to vigorous exercise makes it easier for you to fall asleep and it’s one of the best things you can do if you have trouble sleeping. Working out can also help keep you energized throughout the day so you’re more able to avoid naps that can disrupt your sleeping patterns.
Eat these nutrient-dense foods that promote sleep
Do you know that tryptophan plays a critical role in your brain’s ability to produce serotonin? Besides being known as the “feel good” chemical made by your body, it is a neurotransmitter that works with enzymes to make melatonin which is crucial to regulating your circadian rhythm. Foods rich in tryptophan are chicken, tuna, apples, prunes, bananas, oats, cheese and dark chocolate.
This study proves that glycine improves sleep quality and this amino acid can be found in bone broth, legumes, dairy, spinach, and seaweed. Collagen peptide supplements, like Skin Boost Plus with VERISOL, have a high concentration of glycine and a good way to boost your intake.
Dr. Kukreja emphasizes, “A diet high in carbohydrates can be detrimental to sleep.” She points to this study that shows the higher the consumption of processed carbohydrates, like confectionary goods and noodles, the worse the quality of sleep in the participants. Therefore, Dr. Kukreja recommends, “Eating a diet rich in foods that are high in protein, such as fish, eggs, and leafy greens, can improve sleep.”
Avoid sleep-disruptive beverages
Caffeine and alcohol are stimulating substances that can trip up your quality of sleep when taken too close to bedtime. A good rule of thumb to follow is to stop drinking caffeine at least six hours before bedtime, according to this study. Dr Kukreja says, “It’s actually best to avoid alcohol in the evening if you want a good sleep.”
Create a relaxing bedtime routine
“Switch off from electronic devices because the blue light negatively impacts the production of melatonin which leads to sleep impediment,” advises Dr. Kukreja. Avoid looking at your laptop, tablet, phone, and television at least an hour or two before bed.
What can you do before getting some shut-eye? Dr. Kukreja favors these relaxing rituals, “Taking a warm bath, reading a book, and listening to calming music is great for preparing our mind and body for sleep.”
Get enough sunlight first thing in the morning
This tip may not come to mind immediately but the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center recommends that unfiltered light (don’t wear sunglasses) soon after spontaneous waking can help the body produce more melatonin and regulate our circadian rhythm.
“Morning light may not be as intense but always make sure you are protected with sunscreen,” suggests Dr. Kukreja, as you soak up sun rays.