All mamas are fixated by the subject of sleep (or lack of it) – willing their little ones to make it through the night in order to catch a few winks themselves. Broken sleep can wreak havoc on our health and our skin, stopping the vital repair process and preventing the support of a healthy immune system. And it’s not just an old wives’ tale, sleep really does make you more beautiful (Heidi Klum gets 10 hours a night while Penelope Cruz clocks up 12 – that’s good enough evidence for us!). Lack of sleep can lead to all sorts of health issues from depression and anxiety to weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and memory loss (or baby brain!) – so it’s pretty worrying that most of us just aren’t getting enough of it, or are compromising the quality of our slumber.
With little children comes little sleep (if you’re one of the unusual lucky ones, we all want your secret), but many of us suffer sleepless nights even when the kids are in the land of nod. According to Dr. Khaldou Mozahem (a Neurology Consultant and sleep expert at Dubai’s American Center for Psychiatry and Neurology), this is mainly because of our busy lifestyles and the impact of technology, electricity and electronics. This means watching TV or checking emails before you turn out the light – even sending a text message or a quick tweet can impact your night’s sleep, switching the brain on when it should be switching off. Artificial light prevents the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin and enhances alertness – not ideal when you’re looking for that blissful 8 hours of rest! Dr. Khaldoun strongly advises avoiding these activities, replacing them with relaxing experiences such as having a warm bath, reading a book or listening to music – allowing body and mind to slow down and start the resting process. So next time you’re tempted to post a quick picture on Instagram or check Facebook, wait ‘til morning – you’ll sleep better for it.
Diet also plays a key factor in the quality of our sleep. Before bed, avoid sweets and caffeine but also heavy, fatty meals. Consuming a big stodgy meal at night means that your digestive system goes into overdrive, likely to lead to a sleep disturbance. It’s much better to have a light meal early in the evening: think fruit, vegetables and yoghurt (no mamas, not necessarily all mixed!). Try going back to old traditions and have a glass of warm milk before bed, which is said to have a relaxing effect along with foods rich in magnesium such as green leafy veg, pumpkin seeds, whole grains and almonds. A particular favourite of mine is a big cup of chamomile tea, a herbal healer renowned for its calming effect. Other natural remedies include lavender, lemon balm and valerian root so look out for products containing these sleep-inducing saviours in your local health store.
Lack of sleep not only makes you feel lousy but it also put extra stress on the body – and increasing levels of stress hormones mean one thing – wrinkles. And lots of them. Not enough shut-eye means higher levels of the stress hormone cortisone which causes increased inflammation and the acceleration of aging and worsening of blemishes (scary huh!). It also reduces the skins’ ability to stay hydrated, making for a lackluster complexion.
So mamas, shut down, turn-off and get some sleep while the kiddos are snoozing. You’ll feel better, look younger and be healthier for it – we say hooray to that!
Why not try these sleep-inducing products for the ultimate way to drift-off……
A couple of hours before bed, light NEOM’s Tranquility Candle and fill your room with a scent made for sleep. A heavenly blend of pure English lavender essential oil, sweet basil and jasmine, it not only smells like a dream but will ensure you have plenty of them too.
Available for $567 from NEOM Organics with delivery to Hong Kong.
For a sleep-filled night, soak in a bath of Aromatherapy Associates Relax Deep Bath & Shower Oil. Just one capful will release the aromatic oils of nature’s most calming plants.
For a perfectly perfumed pillow guaranteed to send you into a sublime slumber, try the L’Occitane Lavender Pillow Mist – its aromatic scent will have you heading off to the land of nod in no time.
Available at all L’Occitane Boutiques.
Part of the award-winning This Works Deep Sleep Range, the Deep Sleep Dream Cream is, quite literally, a dream cream. Designed to soothe tired hands and feet and to encourage a good night’s sleep, it combines a powerful therapeutic blend of oils including provencal lavender, wild chamomile and vetivert, ‘the oil of tranquility’.
Available for $227 from Harvey Nichols Hong Kong.
Roll on the remedy with this nighttime treat from Neal’s Yard. A balancing blend of essential oils including lavender, geranium and bergamot, apply to pressure points to help relax body and mind – perfect for weary worriers.
Available for $79 at Neal’s Yard – click here for locations.