Considering we spend one third of our lives sleeping, making the most of your beauty sleep is the beauty equivalent of owning a classic LBD. Much like the perfect little designer black dress, you will have to invest up front (in this case, time and energy), but you will reap the rewards for years to come, especially so because our skin cells go into repair mode at night. Here, some habits to adopt and some tasks to add to your nightly maintenance routine.

Beauty sleep tip #1 : Wash your face

At a minimum, your
nighttime beauty routine must include washing your face. Leaving makeup, oil and debris that is collected on your face on overnight will clog up pores, lead to acne and irritate the skin, says dermatologist Benjamin Barankin. He recommends washing with a gentle cleanser, patting dry, then applying a vitamin C, retinol or glycolic acid product. These products are good to apply at bedtime as they are light sensitive. In a moderate over-the-counter concentration, you can apply every night. If, however, you find your skin is already feeling tight and sensitive, apply the product every other night.

Beauty sleep tip #2: Care for those cuticles

“Applying cuticle oil is the most important thing we can do for our nails at night, and way more people need to do it,” says Leeanne Colley, owner of Tips Nail Bar in Toronto. Put it on at night, she says, as you have a good six to eight hours when you’re not washing your hands and getting them wet, which allows the oil to really soak into your cuticles. Keep a bottle on your bedside table; look for one containing ingredients such as vitamin E, almond oil or jojoba oil. It’s especially important in the winter, adds Colley, because with the air being drier and colder, much like how our skin gets dry and dehydrated, our nails get dry and brittle. Pick up this habit and
your manicures will last longer – “it will help make your nails more flexible, and when your nails are more flexible, the nail colour lasts longer as it’s less prone to chipping.”

More tips for getting a better beauty sleep (and better skin and hair) on the next page …

Beauty sleep tip #3: Avoid LCD screens at night to help encourage a more sound night’s sleep

“I find watching TV or working on my laptop at night very stimulating and awakening,” says Kristen Ma, ayurvedic practitioner and owner of Pure Simple Spa in Toronto, who confesses she personally has many sleep problems. And sleep experts have pinpointed LCD screens as the culprit. Melatonin is the hormone that helps regulate our sleep/wake cycle and studies have found that being exposed to this artificial light (this would include your iPad, TV and computer) inhibits the body’s secretion of melatonin.

Beauty sleep tip #4: Try to go to bed by 11 p.m.

“Melatonin secretion follows a daily rhythm governed by the body’s master clock, which is synchronized by regular exposure to the 24-hour cycle of light and darkness,” says Toronto-based naturopathic doctor Rachel Goldgut. “Melatonin is secreted at night, and once released causes our body temperature to drop, resulting in deeper sleep. Growth hormone is also released at night, and is largely responsible for the restorative functions of sleep or ‘beauty sleep,’” she says.

Generally speaking, the rule is seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep for the average adult, says Goldgut, adding that optimal amount of sleep is largely dependent on the timing of that sleep as seen in relation to an individual’s circadian rhythms. “According to a study in the American Journal of Physiology, the timing is correct when maximum melatonin secretion and minimum body temperate occur in the middle of the sleep episode. Melatonin is secreted at night between the hours of 1-3am, which would make the optimal time for sleep from 11p.m. until 8 a.m.,” she says.

And while sleep is extremely important for
beautiful skin, overall health and wellbeing, Goldgut adds that there are other factors that are equally important including: adequate hydration, proper nutrition (“increase fruit and veggies and decrease inflammatory foods,” she says), good skin care and sun protection.

Beauty sleep tip #5: Condition your hair overnight

To wake up with shinier, more luxurious hair, hair stylist Tony Masciangelo suggests leaving conditioner on overnight. Apply a conditioner (he suggests Nexxus Humectress Conditioner) only to the ends and comb through with a wide-tooth comb to eliminate tangles. Tie hair back into a ponytail and leave on overnight (put a towel over your pillowcase if you want to avoid product on it). “This will allow time for the nourishing properties of the product to enter the cuticle and fill the hair shaft,” says Masciangelo of Page One Management. In the morning, simply rinse out thoroughly in the shower.

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