How do they know?
When someone gets the common cold or the flu, their friends, family, and coworkers can usually tell before the sniffles, runny nose, and cough set in. They start to become more sluggish in their movements and thoughts as the body shifts its resources to fighting off the invading bug. Usually with a bacterial or viral infection, individuals tend to sleep more so the body doesn’t expend as much energy, focusing on the raging battle happening inside the body.
Symptoms of sleep deprivation
On the other end of the spectrum, symptoms of sleep deprivation include:
- Obesity – short sleep duration has been connected with a higher body mass index. This is due to a decrease in insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, as well as reduced caloric expenditure due to a lack of energy.
- Facial cues – without enough sleep, the body experiences dark, puffiness under the eyes as the blood vessels dilate causing swelling and altered colour. Skin becomes paler, shows more wrinkles and fine lines, and the eyes take on a glazed appearance.
- Increased blood pressure
- Impaired muscle strength
- Weakened vision
Are face creams enough?
The answer is no. Putting a band aid on a cut keeps it from becoming infected, but the real work is done at the cellular level as the body creates new tissue to repair the area. If the body is deficient in clotting factors, it can’t contain the wound. If you lack folate or vitamin B12, then red blood cells can’t divide efficiently leading to various forms of anemia. Like skin care, face creams are like a band aid while the real work is deeper.
The range of moisturizers on the market contain hundreds, if not thousands of ingredients, but there are a few core ingredients. Glycerin, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, vitamin E, and sodium hyaluronate which serve functions such as an antioxidant, hydrator, anti-inflammatory, and forming a barrier on the skin.
How does sleep help then?
Proper sleep is also protective against dehydration.
Before you nod off, the body begins to release vasopressin into the blood stream. This hormone binds to cells in the kidney to encourage reabsorption of fluids as opposed to the normal excretion that occurs during the day. By holding onto a greater amount of fluid, we experience uninterrupted sleep. However, during studies on sleep deprivation, participants showed an increased need to pee during the day and through the night as their hormone cycles were impacted. This ensures there is enough fluid to keep the cells hydrated overnight, meaning you wake looking refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Sleep deprivation also causes a stress response in the body which releases agents such as corticosteroids that are detrimental to skin integrity.
As the buzz of the beauty world, collagen is the main component responsible for skin elasticity and resistance. With age and damage from environmental factors like the sun, the skin begins to produce less collagen leading to the gradual sagging experienced with age. During sleep, the body releases growth hormone which stimulates the production of collagen and helps to maintain a youthful experience. With sleep deprivation, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are often some of the first conditions to appear.
What can be done?
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is probably the most well-known sleep-aid herb. Its many bioactive components are responsible for its sedating effects, however the mechanism for how it can be effective is still under investigation. One study demonstrated that the herb was as effective as oxazepam, a common benzodiazepine prescribed for anxiety and insomnia.
Some researchers recognized the efficacy of valerian on its own, but others wanted to determine the combination of valerian and hops (Humulus lupulus). Hops on their own have been shown to reduce nocturnal neural activity and preserve the participants circadian rhythms. Before you go out buying a beer to have before bed, this was done with non-alcoholic beer. Alcohol actually disturbs the cardiovascular relaxation that takes place prior to sleep.
Where can I get my hands on these?
Deep Sleep is a product that includes these herbs and most importantly, is non-addictive unlike many pharmaceutical sleep aids.
In a clinical study of Deep Sleep, 44 patients with insomnia experienced deeper levels of sleep and slept an additional 38 minutes compared to those given a placebo.
When it comes to sleep, quality and quantity are important! A 12-hour sleep with no REM cycle can leave you feeling as tired as you were before your head hit the pillow.
Valerian tea is also a common product if you prefer something other than a tincture. It’s important to note that the active components in valerian have a short half-life. The half-life of a herb or medication represents how quick it takes for the body to process 50% of the agent. With that said, valerian is most effective when taken approximately 30 minutes to two hours before bed.
Tonight, put away the phone, have a glass of water, have a swig of valerian, and sweet dreams.