Sleeping—even just thinking or reading about it—is one of my very favorite things. My passion for the splendor of slumber began five years ago, just as Tatcha became a reality and my daughter, Alea, was born. Starting a company while caring for a newborn and travelling became my wake-up call on the subject of sleep.
In my rare spare moments, I researched experts’ advice about getting the best rest possible. The more I read, the clearer it became that even small changes could have a huge impact. Having a daily ritual that helps you unwind is as essential as eating well or exercising in helping you stay happy and healthy.
Sleep affects your overall health by allowing each of your body’s systems to repair themselves, including your skin, which is the body’s largest organ. Studies have shown that in addition to reducing stress and increasing longevity, getting deep, restorative sleep also improves your skin’s health and appearance. This is because the growth hormone that helps build collagen and repair damaged cells is only released during the deepest stages of sleep.
Our busy lives these days can make it quite a challenge cultivate an evening routine and set the scene for high-quality sleep. However, the National Sleep Foundation’s just-released Sleep in America Poll revealed that even just a greater awareness of sleep’s importance improves your sleep quality—how great is that?
That’s why I wanted to share some of the things that help me unwind and fall asleep, and I hope these tips bring you sweet dreams too:
• Begin the process of winding down with a cup of ginger or buckwheat tea. These teas are non-caffeinated, and sipping them can help you relax and shift towards thinking about your bedtime.
• Drawing yourself a bath before bed helps prepare your body to relax. The warm water will help your muscles rest and the steam help soften your skin. A hot bath also helps you fall asleep soundly because your body temperature will drop when you finish, mimicking the natural drop in temperature when you sleep.
• Dimming the house lights an hour or two before bedtime sends a subtle message to the brain indicating that it's almost time for sleeping.
• Try not to use your bedroom to finish work or other projects, so that when you are in that space you are able to disconnect and focus on getting your best rest.
• Establishing calming evening rituals is essential. Reading bedtime stories to my daughter and purifying my skin are my favorites. I actually look forward to cleansing my skin and melting away the traces of the day so my skin is balanced and ready to begin healing and repairing itself. (Your skin’s surface temperature actually rises slightly while you sleep, so serums and moisturizers absorb more deeply).
• Meditating, even if only for a few minutes, quiets my mind and soothes my soul.
• Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and sugar, which disrupt the body’s biorhythms, is sometimes difficult but always worth it. Alcohol disrupts your body’s ability to fall into the deepest sleep, and sugars increase energy levels that can make it difficult to unwind.
• Transform your bed into a sleep sanctuary. I like to sleep on a buckwheat pillow because of the way it supports and relaxes my neck. It also “breathes” better than traditional pillows.
• Exercising regularly (or as regularly as possible) in the morning! As extra motivation, I remind myself of the research that has proven getting at least 150 minutes of activity each week regulates hormones and promotes deeper sleep.