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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Be a sleeping beauty!

Sleep does wonders to your mind, body and soul, so snooze away!
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - March 10, 2011
By: Sheila Lim
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Be a sleeping beauty!

Oh, how I envy cats! They seem to snooze all the time, just about anywhere they please. Not only that, they appear oblivious to the going-ons around them, and sleep ever so soundly too.

On the other hand, for adult humans (with the exceptions of the Spaniards and Portuguese), sleep is a luxury because we constantly have our noses to the grindstone, and succumb to the temptations of cable television, the Internet, Facebook and myriad other modern-day distractions.  

Let’s take a quick look at why we should be viewing sleep as a necessity, not a luxury.

What happens during sleep?

During the night, sleep progresses in a predictable pattern, moving back and forth between rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) cycles until we wake up.

Each sleep cycle, which lasts an average of 90 to 110 minutes, is divided into four stages. The amount of time you spend in each stage of sleep changes as the night progresses. For example, deep restorative (NREM) sleep usually occurs in the first half of the night. Later in the night, your REM sleep (alert and dreaming stages) becomes longer. That is why those of us who don’t sleep soundly throughout tend to wake up in the early hours and not immediately after going to bed.

During the early part of the sleep cycle, your body also experiences a surge in the secretion of growth hormones, which stimulate the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. The increased release of growth hormones is believed to be linked to the fasting state which develops as the body’s metabolic rate slows down, energy is conserved and fat reserves are mobilised.

Growth hormones are vital to the repair, regeneration and building of muscles, bones and other body tissues. Studies have shown that skin cells regenerate faster at night than during the day. Cell division happens throughout the day but peaks around 2am. The peak in cell division happens even if you stay awake at night, while the growth hormone surge doesn't.

Is beauty sleep a myth?

Deep sleep (stages three and four) is also called "beauty sleep", as the body undergoes a renewal and rejuvenation process.

  • During this period, most body cells show accelerated activity and a reduced rate in the breakdown of proteins. Proteins are building blocks that are essential for cell growth and the repair of cellular damage resulting from factors like stress and ultraviolet rays.
  • During sleep, the whole body, including the face, perspires more. Sleep therefore acts as a “natural moisturising treatment” that keeps the skin hydrated, and smoother. 
  • The efficacy of some ingredients in skincare products is reduced by sunlight. Thus, we get more out of them if we apply them before going to sleep. Antioxidants like vitamins C and E also stay active on your skin longer if you apply them at night.
  • Sleep deprivation contributes to stress, which has detrimental effects on skin. Chronic stress also retards the body's ability to repair itself, resulting in poor skin tone and an unhealthy appearance. This is why we generally look more radiant and feel better when we have sound and adequate sleep.

Don’t sleep on it!

Think of your body as a factory, and sleep as the time it shuts down for cleansing, servicing, repair work and the restoration of worn-out parts. If you want your body to stay in top condition, make sure you schedule enough time for sleep just as you would any other activity!

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