15 Tips to the sleep of your life when you have skin problems

Sleep is critical for health, healing, energy & mental health. Poor sleep disrupts mood, attention & thinking. Insufficient sleep can even affect the microbiota in your gut.

The National Sleep Foundation convened an 18-member multidisciplinary panel. They agreed that, for healthy individuals with normal sleep, the appropriate sleep duration for newborns is between 14-17 hours, infants 12-15 hours, toddlers 11-14 hours, pre-schoolers 10-13 hours & school-aged children 9-11 hours. For teenagers, 8-10 hours, 7-9 hours for young adults & adults & 7-8 hours of sleep for older adults. 

In the past, our circadian rhythms timed predictably to the solar light dark cycles. Since the adoption of electric light, however, exposure to night time lighting has blurred the boundaries of day and night, making it more difficult for our body to synchronize biological processes. Many systems are under circadian control, including sleep–wake behaviour, hormone secretion, cellular function and gene expression.

15 Tips to the best sleep of your life

  1. Dark/Light: Ensure your blinds block out all light and or use an eye mask. Get at least 30 minutes of direct light exposure in the morning, within an hour of waking. Keep a regular schedule, with a consistent wake time and morning routine. Stretching and going for a quick walk is a great way to balance your circadian rhythms. Watching sunrise & sunset is also useful as our eyes can detect the time of the day based on the wavelengths of light. 

  2. Caffiene: The blood caffeine level in your blood peaks about 1 hour after consumption and stays at this level for several hours for most people. Six hours after caffeine is consumed, half of it is still in your body. It can take up to 10 hours to completely clear from your bloodstream (39). Keep coffee for the morning.

  3. Nicotine: A stimulant that directly interacts with the neurotransmitters that control the brain's signals for sleep. It also disrupts the natural circadian rhythm and sleep quality. Two hours after consuming nicotine, the body will have removed around half of the nicotine. Limit or quit smoking, especially 3-5 hours before sleeping. If you must smoke, switch to nicotine free herbal plants to smoke instead.

  4. Food: Don't eat 3-6 hours before sleeping. 

  5. Exercise: Regular physical activity can reduce the time you take to fall asleep (sleep latency), middle-of-the-night awakenings (sleep fragmentation) and the amount of time you spend asleep (sleep efficiency). According to a 2019 meta-analysis in the Journal of Sports Medicine, evening workouts significantly increased slow-wave sleep (deep sleep), which is needed for muscle recovery and memory consolidation. Exercise at least 2 hours before bedtime. The more vigorous your workout, the longer it takes for your body to wind down. When exercising, your body releases elevated amounts of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Your metabolic rate, heart rate and blood pressure and body temperature also rise so exercise effects your circadian rhythm or internal body clock. Lower your body temperature with a cool shower and reduce stress with calming music, stretching and meditation to aid post workout recovery.

  6. Showering: Allow your skin to be completely dry and cool from showering before sleeping to avoid irritation. End your shower cold. Tip your head forward then arms and legs if you find it hard to submerge your whole body at once. Use minimal moisturiser before sleeping.

  7. Laundry: Wash all bedding, clothes & towels using soap berries, above 60 °C every 1-2 weeks to kill the dust mites & dead skin. Place a flat sheet as a layer between you & your blanket so you can wash it more regularly without needing to change the blanket cover as often.

  8. Bedding: Use 100% cotton bedding sheets of a high bed count which is smoother on your skin. Stick with white or neutral colours instead of highly coloured bedding as there are less chemicals. If you are still in a highly flaking stage of recovery, you can add a loosely woven cotton sheet on top of your mattress protector. This allows the dead skin to fall through the sheet while you are sleeping and not create further irritation. Shake off any dead skin in the morning and sun dry the sheet regularly.

  9. Pillow, mattress & bed: Use a high quality mattress with enough support & a contoured memory foam pillow. Make sure the bed is sturdy with a high back. 

  10. Feng Shui: Place your bed head against a solid back wall which creates a protected, grounded feeling. Your bed should be in a ‘command position’ as they call it in Feng Shui with a view of the door, yet not directly in line with it to create psychological safety. Position your bed to have a balance of space on both sides of the bed to create greater air flow and energetic balance. Keep your room clean, don't have a tv in there & make it feel like a cosy, recharging place.

  11. Temperature: Overheating during sleep is common especially in the heat prone areas of the body. Sleep naked or with loose cotton clothing. Layer your bedding so you can take a layer off it it gets too hot. Ensure there is adequate air flow or ventilation to maintain the right sleeping temperature. The best bedroom temperature for sleep is approximately 18.3 °C. This may vary by a few degrees from person to person.

  12. Ritual/Ambience: Allow some down time before going to bed. Avoid screens or use a bluelight filter, read, journal or meditate. Put some relaxing music, a podcast or guided meditation on before sleeping to calm the mind. 528Hz & 432Hz sounds are extremely relaxing or a sound bath is also great.

  13. Calming Tea: Have a warm cup of herbal, non caffeinated tea such as chamomile, dandelion, sage, lavendar & rooibos tea whcih are great for relaxing. 

  14. Technology: Turn off your router at night & place all devices on airplane mode, away from your head, for peace of mind & a break from EMF exposure. Reduce the amount of screen exposure for a few hours before sleep. When using a device at night, use a blue light filter you can set it to turn on automatically. Download any music to your device offline so it does not need to stream while sleeping.

  15. Timing: We sleep in 1.5 hour sleep cycles so it is best to wake up at the end of one cycle rather than mid way through the next cycle. Sleep before 12 midnight as these early hours are critical for deep sleep. The amount you need depends on your age & activity level with 7-8 hours of sleep the ideal average for most older adults.

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