Many of the women who come to see me in my Wellness Center have one goal in mind. They want to look younger.
Some are willing to do whatever it takes. But many draw the line at surgery – and I agree with them.
I tell them something that no plastic surgeon ever will…
There is a safe, easy, painless and effective way to look 10 years younger. And it’s completely free.
I’m talking about a good night’s sleep.
Burning the midnight oil can add years to your face. And the next day, your mirror tells the story when you see those dark circles, sunken cheeks and the way your skin sags into deep wrinkles.
I’ve seen it in my own patients. When they don’t sleep well, they come to my clinic looking old and tired.
For a long time, we didn’t understand how lack of sleep could age us so much.
But now we do. And it’s all connected to your telomeres.
These little caps on the ends of each of your chromosomes control how quickly you age.
Each time your cells divide, these telomeres get a little shorter and your cells get closer to the end of their life.
Short telomeres lead to aging skin cells. And that means more fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots and drying skin. Everything starts to sag.
But studies show a good night’s sleep helps keep your telomeres longer.
Harvard researchers measured telomere length in 4,117 women. Compared with women who got the most sleep, those who slept six hours or less per night had a 12% decrease in their telomere length. That change was equivalent to nine years of biological aging!1
In other words, the more you sleep the longer your telomeres.2 And that means more youthful cells and a younger-looking appearance.
One of the ways in which sleep protects your telomeres is by neutralizing the damaging effects of cortisol, the stress hormone.
As you deal with stress all day, your levels of the hormone cortisol rise.
And those high cortisol levels erode the length of your telomeres.3 Cortisol also sabotages telomerase, the enzyme that rebuilds your telomeres.
But it’s not just daytime stress that spikes cortisol. Losing just a few hours of sleep at night also increases your stress hormone. In one study, volunteers who lost sleep from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. saw their cortisol levels shoot up by a massive 37%.4
That’s why de-stressing with seven to nine hours of sleep every night should be the foundation of your anti-aging beauty regimen.
In fact, getting a solid eight hours of sleep is like getting a quick facelift.
But for many people, getting to sleep and staying asleep is a real problem. That’s why Big Pharma is getting rich on Ambien and Lunesta, as well as those scary benzodiazepines, like Valium, Klonopin and Xanax.
These drugs have a long list of worrying side effects like dizziness, drowsiness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, memory loss, and hallucinations. Some people report sleep-walking, and even unconscious sleep-eating or sleep-driving.
I don’t prescribe those drugs. Instead, I help my patients get to sleep safely and naturally.
So, here’s how to wake up de-stressed, refreshed and rejuvenated.
1. Keep it dark. Even a little bit of light from a clock radio, cell phone or nightlight can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. If you can’t get your room completely dark, try an eye mask.
2. No caffeine after 3 p.m. Making this one change has helped many of my patients get a good night’s sleep for the first time in many years. Depending on your sensitivity to caffeine you might need a noon cutoff – so experiment.
3. Try some Jamaican dogwood extract. Traditional tropical healers use the leaves and bark of the Jamaican dogwood tree as a natural treatment for insomnia and anxiety. All you need is 10 mg. a night.
4. Diffuse lavender oil. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) eases anxiety and promotes sleep. In one study, British researchers asked volunteers to sleep in a room where lavender essential oil was diffused for a week. The next week the group slept in a room where almond oil was diffused. The volunteers ranked their sleep 20% better in the lavender-scented room.5
5. Get some natural sunlight every day. When natural sunlight hits your eyes it triggers the production of melatonin. This sleep hormone helps you fall asleep and keeps you sleeping deeper throughout the night.
Melatonin also helps in the production of collagen and elastin to keep your skin firm and looking young.6 It’s a potent antioxidant that fights against damage that causes your skin to wrinkle and age.7
But melatonin production drops with age or when you’re stressed or taking when you’re beta blockers, aspirin or non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. If that’s the case, you may want to take a melatonin supplement.
Look for drops or use a sublingual that melts under your tongue. It’s easier to absorb and works fast. I recommend 10 mg. of melatonin a day to ensure a good night’s rest. Take it about 20 minutes before you want to go to sleep.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Liang G, Schernhammer E, Qi L, Gao X, De Vivo I, Han J., “Associations between rotating night shifts, sleep duration, and telomere length in women.” PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23462.
2. Aeschbach D, Sher L, Postolache TT, Matthews JR, Jackson MA, et al. “A longer biological night in long sleepers than in short sleepers.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003;88:26–30.
3. Choi, J., et al. “Reduced Telomerase Activity in Human T Lymphocytes Exposed to Cortisol.” Brain Behav Immun. May 2008. 22(4) 600-605.
4. Leproult R et al. “Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening.”Sleep.1997;20(10):865-70.
5. Lewith GT et al. “A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia.” J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Aug;11(4):631-7.
6. Slominski A, Pisarchik A, et al. “Functional activity of serotoninergic and melatoninergic systems expressed in the skin.” J Cell Physiol. 2003 Jul;196(1):144-53.
7. Esrefoglu M, et al. “Potent therapeutic effect of melatonin on aging skin in pinealectomized rats.” J Pineal Res. 2005;39(3):231-7.