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Sleeping Good, Looking Better: The Restorative Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
Have you ever noticed that your skin takes on an unhealthy pallor when you’re not getting enough sleep? Bags and dark circles start to form under your eyes and skin conditions like acne or psoriasis may become aggravated. Sleep has a powerfully restorative effect on the body — both inside and out — and one of its more noticeable impacts is its ability to alleviate inflammation caused by elevated levels of the hormone cortisol, which leaves you looking puffy and unhealthy. For individuals recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, sleep is especially important because it plays a central role in healing the body.
How Lack of Sleep Detracts from Your Appearance
Loss of sleep causes a breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which give skin its healthy, glowing quality. A compromised immune system shows the effects of stress with different manifestations of inflammation; sleep deprivation also damages the body’s ability to retain moisture, which affects the skin’s ability to hydrate. Cells aren’t repaired, which accelerates the aging process because growth hormones are hampered. And because your hormones are out of whack, you’re apt to gain weight. This can be a problem with individuals in recovery, who may be suffering from a loss of appetite due to their condition.
Sleeping Better, Looking Better
If sleep loss is affecting your appearance, there are several strategies that can help restore the body’s natural processes and get you back to a proper sleep rhythm. Avoid eating a big meal late in the day; this will cause your metabolism to go into overdrive, elevate your heart rate and blood pressure and make it very difficult to sleep. Drink lots of water during the day to flush out impurities and help regulate weight gain. Create a restful, soothing sleep environment at night by maintaining a dark sleep space in a cool, quiet room (install blackout shades if necessary and make sure you have a comfortable mattress). There should be no electronics, TVs, or computer screens on while you’re trying to get some sleep.
A proper pre-bedtime routine will also help you wind down and get used to feeling sleepy at about the same time each night. Meditation and reading help facilitate sleep for many people. Others do well by taking a hot bath in the evening or enjoying a hot cup of chamomile tea.
Exercise is one of the best ways to help restore your body to a healthy, natural sleep pattern, even if you’re just exercising 30 minutes a day. It’s especially beneficial for those in recovery, who may be suffering from insomnia as their bodies restore the ability to heal. Do push-ups, take a hike, or go for a run. It’s all good, and you’ll find it easier to fall asleep at night.
Studies have indicated that a diet with abundant protein, whole grains, vegetables, and other fibers can lead to improved sleep. Fiber is especially important because of its healthy properties for gut health, which is connected to sleep, digestion, and many other aspects of your overall health. Eat more legumes, almonds, and apples or bananas to ensure you’re getting the fiber your body needs. Recovering addicts, in particular, should follow a diet rooted in the basic food groups — especially vegetables, fiber, and protein — to regain nutrition that’s been depleted by alcohol and drug abuse and facilitate the recovery of bodily systems.
Restorative sleep is one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Finding healthy ways to get back to a normal sleep-waking cycle and getting seven to nine hours a night is essential for those in recovery because they’re susceptible to falling back into negative behaviors without the strength and healing that comes from sleep.
Guest Post By: Susan Treadway; Rehab Holistics