Sleep becomes a precious commodity as we age; waking up after a long and restful slumber could be the closest thing we’ve got to a fountain of youth, for it offers up all kinds of benefits to body and mind. We’ve all felt that sluggish, temperamental and irritable feeling that often accompanies a restless night - and we’ve all experienced the radiant and happy reflection that greets us in the mirror after a great eight hours between the sheets. Sleep is often overlooked as one of the most important elements of a great beauty and wellness routine, and best of all: it’s free!
Although you shouldn’t completely neglect your beauty regime in favour of more time in bed, getting into good bedtime habits will have a long-term positive impact in so many areas. Research has shown that even one poor night of sleep can cause swollen eyes, dark circles, more prominent fine lines and even sagging skin around the jawline; a 2017 study* even found that two days of sleep restriction negatively affected the participants perceived attractiveness, health and even trustworthiness. Sleep helps us to feel good and look good too.
But why is sleep so important?
During the daytime our bodies are in ‘defence mode’, focused on protecting against UV and free radical damage, but as this need depletes overnight it can start focusing on the vital process of regeneration and protection. As the sun goes down our skin renewal rate almost doubles, collagen production rises, cell damage reverses and UV-induced damage is repaired - having a hugely beneficial impact on our complexion.
What are the beauty benefits of sleep?
If we regularly get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night we’ll undoubtedly benefit from a multitude of visible improvements in our skin. With more collagen skin appears fuller, more youthful and fine lines appear reduced, while adequate blood flow and drainage will ensure the under-eye area is less puffy and free from dark circles. Investing in your bedtime routine will undoubtedly leave your complexion looking radiant, feeling smoother and becoming more supple over time.
The secret ingredient for great skin.
Although sleep is vital for a healthy looking complexion, there is an additional ingredient that will help support your skin and effortlessly boost the benefits it can provide: a great night treatment.
During those eight hours of abstinence from food and drink your skin needs all the hydration it can get, which is why night creams tend to focus on delivering moisture within rich and creamy formulations. As our skin is in repair mode, it’s also a great opportunity to deliver potent ingredients that can aid that process and ensure you wake up looking refreshed.
Picking a great night treatment will not only boost the benefits of sleep, but help to deliver a sprinkling of added goodness too: the metabolic activity of skin cells is at its peak as we slumber, making it an ideal time to achieve maximum results from a targeted treatment.
A targeted treatment to suit your age and your needs.
Our skin needs change as we age, so using a targeted treatment to deliver exactly what it needs is the key to unlocking your best skin yet. In our teens and twenties skin just needs a little helping hand, with essential nutrients and hydration to boost clarity, so it’s important not to overload the skin; that’s why ARK Skincare keep the Age Protect range stripped back and as simple as possible.
As we reach our thirties and forties our skin is showing the first signs of ageing. ARK Skincare Age Defend Regenerating Night Treatment features a multitude of active ingredients to aid the skin’s natural repair process to leave it healthy, glowing and youthful.
Free radical scavenging antioxidants and Vitamins A and E help to reduce the appearance of skin ageing; Kiwi and Passionfruit Seed Oils are rich in fatty acids and work to hydrate, maintain moisture levels and alleviate inflammation; Blue Lotus extract provides antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, while Shea Butter helps to alleviate dry, irritated and sensitised skin. The result is a beautifully rich, hard working and effortless night treatment that we know you’ll love.
By the time we hit our fifties, skin requires more targeted support for the established signs of ageing - and richer formulas to counteract the loss of moisture and hydration that occurs later in life.
ARK Skincare Age Defy Repairing Night Treatment features Hyaluronic Acid to maintain moisturisation, firm and tone, Blackcurrant Seed Oil (a natural source of Vitamin C) to help regulate inflammation and dryness, and Vitamin E to condition and protect skin. Borage Oil, incredibly rich in Essential Fatty Acids and Omega 6, helps to treat dry and damaged skin, while Goji Berry extract also provides detoxifying, fortifying and vitalising properties.
The beautifully rich (yet not heavy) cream helps to promote collagen production, improve hydration, boost firmness and elasticity, plus provides a visible improvement of wrinkle depth around the eyes in particular. It’s everything you need to look and feel your best.
Both the ARK Skincare Age Defend and Age Defy Night Treatments can be used right up to the delicate eye area too, delivering smoother and fresher skin. They’re vegan friendly, cruelty-free and have been recognized in the Beauty Shortlist Awards as the best in their category, while the Age Defend has recently been nominated as the Best New Premium Skincare Product in the much celebrated Pure Beauty Awards 2020 – a huge achievement for an independent British brand like us.
Perfecting a nighttime skincare routine
The hour before bedtime provides the perfect opportunity to take care of your skin, and your mind, while indulging in a little pampering ‘me-time’. Enjoying the ritual of removing your makeup and applying nighttime products will ensure you’re in the perfect space for relaxation and help you drift off to sleep with ease. It’s also a great time to apply all manner of creams, treatments and masques to help deliver your skin what it needs while it’s in repair mode – boosting our body’s own natural processes.
Now you’re armed with the knowledge, skill and products to take care of your skin all day long, your complexion will thank you.
The Science of Sleep
We all know how important rest is and the struggle we can face without it. So, what happens when we sleep and why do we need it?
Sleep is incredibly important as it helps the brain to function properly. Without it, we are unable to properly process what we’re told and remember things we learned throughout the day. This is why it can be hard to focus on what would usually be fairly straight forward.
Bad or little sleep can lead to many different complications. Some are physical, such as seizures, high blood pressure and increased likelihood of illness and infection. It can also increase the risk of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia.
Despite knowing all of the factors that are associated with lack of sleep, I was interested to find out what actually happens when we slumber. So, with that in mind, I went away and did some research of my own.
So, What Did I Find?
Sleep is regulated by our circadian rhythm (also known as our body clock). It responds to light cues and ramps up the production of melatonin – a natural hormone known as the ‘sleep hormone’ which tells our body it’s night time. Once the sun starts to go down and we are exposed to less light, melatonin is released into the bloodstream and as levels begin to rise, we start to feel sleepy. (This definitely makes me feel less guilty about feeling so sluggish in wintertime!)
When we sleep, we experience a four-stage cycle. These cycles are often repeated 3-4 times during the night, depending on how good of a sleep we get.
This stage is the transition between being awake and falling asleep once we get comfortable, close our eyes and begin to relax. This usually lasts about 5-10 minutes.
This is when our heart rate and breathing begins to slow down, body temperature drops and our muscles may twitch. This stage is still fairly light and the brain produces sudden increases in brain wave frequency known as sleep spindles.
This is known as the “delta” stage of sleep due to the delta slow brain waves which take place. It is at this particular stage in sleep that the most growth hormone is produced to service bones, muscles and repair the body. At this point, it becomes a little harder for us to be awakened because we become less responsive to outside stimuli.
Stage four is known as REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), the deepest stage of sleep which we usually enter about 90 minutes after initially falling asleep. This is the stage where the brain is most active, the eyes dart back and forth and breathing becomes fast and shallow. It’s also when our dreams take place. Chemicals that are released within the body render it temporarily paralyzed so that we don’t act them out in our sleep. Each REM stage can last up to an hour and an average adult has five to six a night.
After some extensive research into the science of sleep over the past two years, ARK skincare has recently released two new night treatments. Each is packed full of active ingredients that help to aid the body’s natural repair process when we sleep, allowing us to wake up feeling rested and glowing. You can find more information about these here.
This informative video from The Economist explains each stage of sleep in detail which you can watch here
NHS - How To Beat Insomnia