Whether you’re a night owl or a morning bird (or fall somewhere in between), getting a good night’s rest can be a serious challenge. With emails to read, phone calls to make, your favourite television show to catch up on (oh, and don’t forget that last minute workout session), it’s no wonder sleepless nights have become the norm for Canadian women. But it’s more than just being tired and needing constant java fixes at work. It can result in in dark circles, dull skin and premature aging. With these thoughts in mind, here are five tried and true ways to get the shuteye your body deserves—a.k.a your beauty sleep—each and every night (the ultimate
anti aging secret).


1. Rely on a fixed sleep schedule.
“On average, you should get eight hours of slumber each night, but any deviation makes sleeping more difficult,” says Dr. E. Douglas Jones—Clinical Dental Director for Sleep Well at Altima Dental Centres (who practices exclusively in sleep care). Maintain a steady rhythm of sleep for your body by going to bed around the same time each night and setting your alarm for the same time each morning—even on weekends.

“Sleeping in or spending extra time in bed weakens the pressure for shuteye the following night, even though it feels right at the time. This can lead to a vicious sleep onset insomnia," says James MacFarlane—Director of Education and Clinical Consultant for MedSleep Toronto. With a regular rest pattern in place, over time you will notice a boost in your energy levels and a drastic reduction in dark circles and fine lines caused by lack of sleep.

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2. Be mindful of your food intake.
What you put into your body throughout the day has a major impact on how it adjusts to sleep at night. “Do not eat or drink (except water) during your sleep period,” recommends Dr. MacFarlane. Avoid food and carbonated/alcoholic beverages at least three hours before hitting the pillow to allow your body enough time to digest. “Furthermore, we are designed to fast for the entire sleep period. Any food intake during that interval will accelerate weight gain,” adds Dr. MacFarlane. In other words, always ignore the midnight snack that’s calling your name from the kitchen.

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3. Power down…everything.

If you have a habit of checking those late night emails right before you attempt your beauty sleep—stop. You want to resist the urge to watch television, text or surf the web in bed. These activities can make your brain more alert, causing
dark circles under your eyes and wrinkles under your chin, all from looking down at your tech device. “Eliminate work materials, computers and television sets from the bedroom,” says Dr. Jones. The key to peace and quiet? “The epitome of the perfect atmosphere for good sleep is found in a cool, dark and quiet bedroom.”

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4. Focus on nightly relaxation—not work.
Life’s daily demands can interfere with the quality of your sleep (and create the dark circles you see at sunrise), but if you’re going to worry about tomorrow’s big boardroom presentation, set aside some time before dozing off to calm yourself and work through your concerns. "Think about any current stressors or tasks prior to getting into bed, also known as ‘scheduled worry time,’” suggests Dr. MacFarlane. “Considering these before slumber may help reduce the risk of anxious rumination in the middle of the night.” Dodging uncomfortable thoughts while lying in bed will allow you to drift off to sleep faster—and without the dark circles caused by burning the midnight oil—for a more lucrative beauty sleep.


5. Follow a routine workout plan.

When you exercise, you are invigorating your brain and muscles with movement and action. For this reason, hitting the gym right before you settle in for the night is extraordinarily disruptive to your beauty sleep. “Use a consistent exercise routine which ends at least two hours prior to bedtime,” Dr. Jones says. This will give your mind and body enough time to cool down in preparation for a state of rest, resulting in a longer, more youthful sleep cycle.

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