I come from a long line of insomniacs, so chronic sleeplessness has been a very normal way of life for me since, well, forever. In fact, I do my best work late at night – think post-1 am on a good day. After all, isn’t the world a much more productive place when everyone else has gone to sleep, silence reigns and there are no other demands on your time? It’s a running joke that I do often see sunrise, just from the wrong end of the night!
For over two decades, I have resisted every suggestion that this is an unhealthy way of living. Which says a lot for my
stubbornness faith in my judgement, considering I am married to a man who promptly falls asleep as soon as the clock chimes 11 pm and then doesn’t stir for exactly 8 hours, at which point he wakes up, goes for a healthy morning walk, downs a litre of hot water and finishes his newspapers. While I am still moving around with foggy brain and groggy eyes, taking one tentative step at a time through the morning mess. Don’t remember the last time I woke up feeling fresh and ready to take on the world – even on those rare occasions when I’ve managed to put in 6-8 solid hours of sleep and gotten out of bed closer to lunchtime than breakfast.
Lovely as this way of sleep walking through life may sound, sometimes it gets difficult to be so out of sync with the rest of the world. Like with work associates who insist on meeting before lunchtime, friends who want to “do brunch”, weddings and festivals that are scheduled at some insane hour in the morning, flights that take off with the rising sun, husbands who would like to have breakfast together… the list of annoyances is endless. I love kids but dread the extreme changes they would necessitate in my daily routine, since I believe little minds are most active during the morning hours? I don’t think mine will ever make it to school before the lunch bell, and even then the teachers might have to put up with a dishevelled mess since it’s tough enough to dress myself in the morning, without adding a toddler to the mix!
But as the years go by, this kind of sleepless routine is getting tougher and tougher to keep up. And you’ve got to be hiding under a VERY large rock to drown out all the health risks that being short on sleep puts you through. And the negative beauty consequences. And the productivity pitfalls. Seems even the simple act of driving to the local shop is laced with danger when you’ve fallen even 25% short of your daily sleep targets.
Time, then, to start making a change. Which has prompted this new column on The Beauty Gypsy, called Sleepytime Saturdays. Because, yes… superficial as it sounds, sleep (or rather sleep deprivation) is also THE most important topic in the health and beauty world right now. After all, sleep deprivation and insomnia aren’t just annoying – they’re huge roadblocks to good health, a calm mind and beautiful skin. And thanks to our hectic lifestyles we’re now more obsessed with sleep than ever before.
Which is not surprising, given that four out of five people suffer from disturbed or inadequate – so-called ‘toxic’ – sleep in today’s age. And it’s not just about dark circles and premature ageing. Instead, think along the lines of more complex beauty benefits such as adequate sleep allowing the body to produce cortisol; stimulating the release of human growth hormone; reducing stress and internal inflammation; maintaining good water balance; and weight management.
And it’s not an awareness that’s going away anytime soon. If someone like me – who consciously and subconsciously resists sleep at all levels – can be made to rethink my entire lifestyle and make changes, maybe it’s time for you to catch on as well. This new column, which will run every alternate Saturday, is borne out of my own personal experiments and experiences with the latest that science and traditional medicine have to offer on this challenging topic. These are not sleep remedies of the hot-milk-and-aromatherapy kind. Instead, these new investigations into the science of sleep have thrown up extremely innovative slumber solutions that range from “sleep schools” to “sleep spas”, sleeping aids (like sedative skincare, intelligent duvets, bio alarm clocks and hi-tech sleep regulators), best sleep practises and so on.
Does this sound up your alley? You might want to take a look, even if you think you are sleeping well.
So, join me here: what’s YOUR sleep quotient? Do you have trouble falling asleep? What’s your best sleep tip?