How often have you jumped out of bed, cross with the alarm clock, cross with the world – stared at the bathroom mirror and muttered, “Whatever happens to all those creams, lotions and potions I waste on myself?” Those lifeless eyes, with their horrifying bags and rings, the sallow skin and patchy complexion are enough to dampen one’s spirits for the whole day. When this continues for a few more days, the questions start. And the panic. “What’s wrong with me?”
Whey you take your panic to the doctor, you are amazed at the diagnosis. No you aren’t heading for blood cancer nor are you anaemic, anorexic or any-terrible-thing that you have imagined. “Sleep”, says the Doc. “You’re suffering from lack of sleep.” “Lack of sleep? But I do manage to sleep more than 7-8 hours a day!”, you retort. The Doc replies, “You sleep, yes. But do you sleep well?”. And here lies the crucial difference. “Sleep is a natural phenomenon, a compulsory rest interval, designed by nature to ensure the smooth running of the body machinery. How you use it, tells on your general well-being, and consequently, on your appearance… And let me tell you, it is one of the best natural beauty aids you can find, “says the wise doctor.
If you sometimes get cross with the way you look, don’t panic. Just review your sleeping habits and you’ll notice the transformation.
Though, we all sleep as a matter of routine, there’s a world of difference between retiring to bed and relaxing. The main purpose of sleep is to afford complete unwinding and rest for the physical factory. When a person goes to bed, she should think more about relaxing than consider it a biological duty. This is what is called “the quality” of sleep, which is more important than quantity.
The concept of quality is well reflected in the yogasana, called the Shavasana – the corpse pose. This asana distils the essence of a long relaxing, sleep into a few moments of a “death act”. Adopting the principles of this asana, wherein each organ in concentrated upon and “hypnotized” into complete relaxation, will prove beneficial to those who want to practice sleep as a beauty aid.
When we say “a good sleep” it presupposes two requirements. A perfect environment and a perfect body.
The bed: A good bed is not necessarily a plush mattress. Any comfortable base, that is neither too hard nor too soft, will do. A firm, unyielding surface is best for the backbone, because it does not have to exert itself to maintain body balance. Pillows too need to have only the minimal fluffiness, so as not to strain neck bones and muscles.
The room: It should be clean and well-ventilated. Darkness induces better sleep, so the night lights, unless absolutely necessary, should be avoided. Dust, dampness, etc, should be checked out. Children should be taught not to strew their sandals, playthings, dirty clothes, etc, on or around the bed. Also beware of dust mites on your matresses, pillows & linens
Empty milk glasses, snack trays, etc, that may have been left near the bed, should be cleared away before bedtime. Sweeping the floor clean of crumbs and other debris before going to bed is a must in compact homes where T.V meals are common. These are precautions against pest invasions that can disturb sleep.
Bedclothes: These should be loose-hanging and light. Constrictions around midriff, waist, etc, can hinder the body’s relaxation process. Hair should be done up loose, with no pins or hair-bands near about the nape. Any tightness at the back of the head, throughout the night, can cause headaches.
Shavasana, when executed efficiently can improve the quality of your sleep.
The condition of the body influences the quality of sleep a great deal. People with problems, like constipation, colic, etc, tend to have restless and fitful sleep. Insomnia can be traced to the above problems in a majority of instances.
A heavy spicy meal, too near to bedtime, is a sure-fire nightmare-producer. The last meal of the day should always be light, easily digestible and one to two hours before bedtime. At night, when the body processes slow down, digestion is also sluggish. Moreover, since there is little physical activity to burn off energy, the alimentary system will only be burdened to discomfort by a heavy meal.
Inability to fall asleep, in spite of fatigue, can be due to the state of mind. Most women feel washed out at the day’s end and are generally prone to so many negative emotions, like irritation, self-pity or disgust that their sleep is of very poor quality.
Making time for oneself, at least a few minutes before bedtime will prove highly beneficial not only to health but also to one’s personality. This short interval may be used to read, to write a note to a friend, to pamper one’s skin, to give oneself a face massage or just to skim through photographs of some happy events- anything that will make one feel good about oneself without having to depend on others for it.
This self-sufficiency builds up one’s sense of self-worth and confidence and greatly improves the well-being of the mind. And it is the mind that influences general health, and ultimately the appearance.
While moderate physical activity during the day is a good inducer of sleep, intense physical activity can rob you of sleep. Women who feel they have “rested” too much during the day, however can benefit from a few simple “relaxing-exercise” before going to bed.
1. Stand with legs at ease, hands hanging loosely. Slowly bend forward and down, neck and limbs still loose from waist. Hold position to count of three, and resume standing position. Repeat once.
2. Stand relaxed. Legs apart. Palms on sides of thighs. Slide left palm down the thigh and bend laterally as far as possible from waist. Repeat on other side.
3. Sit cross-legged against a wall. Roll head in all directions loosely.
4. Sit on a chair. Put out a foot and rotate ankle. Repeat on other side.
5. Throw out “hands, straight line to shoulders, “row” forward and backward.
The above is one “set”. After doing it once, stand relaxed and shake all over, like a tree trying to throw off its leaves.
After this, lie on bed, completely relaxed. Close eyes and concentrate on the toes, saying in the mind, “My toes are relaxed, my calf is relaxed, my knee is relaxed, my thigh muscles are relaxed,” and so on, till the head is reached. Concentration on each part is important. This relaxes the body completely and the sleep it induces is of a very high quality.
This is important if sleep has to act as a beauty aid. For example, sleeping on the face makes the face dumpy-looking in the morning with crow’s feet around the eyes due to pressure. And in due course these lines will be permanently etched.
The best position recommended by specialists is the lateral, i.e., lying on the side, with knees slightly bent. This is the position most easy on the backbone, which helps to maintain it supple and straight. A beautiful form has an erect posture.
Aaron never knew why her left cheek always appeared more pinched and prone to roughness, itchiness and color variations until she discovered that she had developed the habit of putting her palm between the pillow and her face during sleep. By the way, did you know that there are special pillows that claim to wipe wrinkles or that silk pillow cases are good for your hair as they do not absorb moisture from your hair to make them dry and lifeless? If you have trouble falling asleep, in addition to these home-remedies, aromatherapy sleep pillows and pillows mists could also help you.
Beauticians will vouch for the fact that frequent touching and handling of the facial skin is detrimental to a good complexion. A crouched sleeping position may be an indication of a tense mental state but it is also an impediment to a complete rest.
Before concluding, a word about timings. It certainly pays to heed the old saying, “Early to bed, early to rise…”
Habitual late nights play havoc with the systems and it all shows on the face. No amount of make-up can disguise red and puffy eyes or a tired, dull skin.
Late-rising, similarly, makes the body dull and feel dumpy. While it’s healthy to have a short nap in the afternoon, its duration shouldn’t exceed 30 minutes. Otherwise you’ll feel lethargic and dull later during the day and will also affect your night-time sleep. Long midday naps are meant only for infants and the septuagenarians.
Make your sleeping routine right – and see how beauty shines on your face in the sparkling eyes, clear skin and rosy cheeks.
(Guest Post by Vidya M)
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