Sleep really does make you beautiful
London - These days, when people ask what my favourite pastime is, I reply “sleeping”.
There are few things quite so delicious as an unscheduled snooze on a Sunday afternoon, or waking up from an uninterrupted night’s slumber.
Lack of sleep makes us fat, ill, stupid and grumpy. It also makes us less attractive. A few years ago, Swedish scientists tested the concept of beauty sleep under clinical conditions. The results, which appeared in the British Medical Journal, were clear: tired faces are less appealing than well-rested ones.
Life being what it is, sleep can seem like a rare commodity. New parents, shift workers and the partners of snorers don’t get enough, especially of the all-important REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is when the body carries out essential maintenance work at a cellular level.
Sleep reduces cortisol (the stress hormone), which is responsible for thinning skin, stretch marks and discolouration, while increasing melatonin (the sleep hormone), which acts like an antioxidant to fight age spots and fine lines.
Deep sleep can also increase the efficiency of hormones that repair and regenerate collagen-producing cells, which are responsible for skin elasticity and tightness.
Like everything else, our body’s ability to repair itself during sleep slows down as we age, which is why gilded youth can party until sunrise and still shine, while those of us in our middle years look like the living dead if we stay up past the television news.
Repairing daytime damage during the night is not a new idea.
My grandmother used to cover her face in a thick layer of cold cream before bed, most of which ended up on her pillow. Modern skincare has moved on somewhat: now the aim is to support the body’s natural overnight processes with active ingredients and the latest delivery mechanisms.
Yes, we’re talking serums. In particular, those which contain clarifying and brightening ingredients that might cause irritation during daylight hours can make a real difference to skin tone, dissolving brown spots and other unwanted pigmentation while you sleep.
Antioxidants, vitamins and omega oils are staple ingredients (although if you have dry skin, even the best serum alone probably won’t be enough).
Some brands even aim to support deep sleep through the use of essential oils, in particular lavender, which have calming, soporific qualities.
One such name is This Works (www.thisworks.com/). As well as their pillow spray, now reformulated to release its lavender-scented fragrance throughout the night, their no-wrinkles night repair and no-wrinkles midnight moisture contain Persian Silk Tree extract to reduce the amount of glycotoxins in the skin. (Glycotoxins, since you ask, are a by-product of the creation of energy from glucose that can impair cell function.)
If I had my pick of the beauty shelves, my choice would be Sarah Chapman’s Overnight Facial (£45). This serum/oil works alone even on my very dry skin, and contains a potent cocktail of antioxidants, vitamins, omega oils and skin-brightening complex peptides. It also smells wonderful: jasmine, rose frangipani and tuberose (www.sarahchapman.net). -Daily Mail