Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolve to Take Charge of your Health and Your Skin. Eat right. Sleep right. And move right.

All these things are so important for your health. And for your skin.  We've discussed how to eat right at length and touched moving right, but for a reminder move around a lot every day. Now. About sleep.

Yes, sleep affects acne and aging of skin.

So much is timed by a proper wake sleep cycle, including the production and release of hormones. All kinds of hormones.  And hormones are what control how your body functions.They are your metabolism.

Sleep affects insulin sensitivity

Lack of sleep plays just as important a role in developing diabetes as diet and obesity. The connection has been known for several years, but this past fall researchers discovered that lack of sleep reduces insulin sensitivity in fat cells by 30%.1   And remember, elevated blood sugar and insulin stimulates the excess hormones, over production of skin cells and chronic silent inflammation that lead to acne formation and loss of elasticity in skin.2

And speaking of obesity, sleep also negatively affects leptin and ghrelen which stimulate appetite and let your brain know you are full. People who sleep less, often weigh more. Besides the leptin/ghrelin thing, when you are less tired, you are less likely to crave those quick energy sugary refined carbs.

And speaking of chronic inflammation, people with poor quality sleep or sleep deprivation exhibit increased levels of interleukin-6 (IL6), the chemical that causes inflammation throughout the body.3 Start browsing through studies on acne and you'll find talk about IL6 everywhere!

And of course, lack of sleep affects your mood and ability to cope with stress, brain function and more.4  But we'll have to explore those things in another post.

So, You need to sleep well. And doing so requires regular exposure to bright light and to darkness.

Get outside during the day!

Bright light stimulates the pituitary and hypothalamus and thus influences the levels of nearly every hormone in your body.  And by bright light, I mean going outdoors.  Even the bright fluorescent office lights aren't enough.  Ever notice how hard it is to read your laptop or tablet display outdoors, even in the shade?  That's because it's brighter out there.  This bright light stimulates seratonin production.

Seratonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep and has some influence on cognitive functions involving  memory and learning.  This bright light exposure is step one to getting a good night sleep.

Bright light exposure even affects your digestion 5  We are meant to be outdoors. Try to get outdoors before or during lunchtime. Walk to lunch and eat outside if possible.

While you are at it, try to spend some of your outdoor time exposed to the sun to produce vitamin D, a vitamin that's really a hormone and incredibly important to the immune system, bone formation and more. And one of the many things it affects is how skin cells are formed and shed, which means it affects acne.

Avoid artificial light at night!

Reduce exposure to artificial light at night.  Darkness signals that it's time to start converting that seratonin to melatonin, the neurotransmitter that puts you to sleep and keeps you asleep.  Dim the lights in the evening. Avoid blue tone lights in particular, such as that coming from your computer screen.  If you need to work into the evening, there are filters and software that can change the light hitting your eyes to a reddish tint that won't interfere with melatonin conversion.  F.lux is free downloadable software that automatically changes the tone of the light on your monitor to red each evening near sunset.

Sleep in complete darkness and do not turn on lights if you get up during the night. You'll stop the melatonin!

The Circadian Cycle

This daily cycle of exposure to bright light in the daytime and darkness at night is called your circadian cycle or rhythm.  And it regulates so many processes in your body.  You want to mimic as natural a cycle as you possibly can.  Spending all day indoors in dim light and nights in artificial light muddy up the whole seratonin/melatonin cycle making you feel fatigued during the day and impairing your ability to sleep at night. If you find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night no matter how tired you are, look to your circadian cycle.

1 http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251504.php
2 http://dietforclearskin.blogspot.com/2012/12/chronic-silent-inflammation-is-aging.html
3 http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/85/10/3597.full
Scientists Finding Out What Losing Sleep Does to a Body
Effects of dim or bright-light exposure during the daytime on human gastrointestinal activity.

Good Things for Sleep

-Keep a regular sleep schedule with an early bedtime. Mimic the natural pre-electricity age as much as possible.
-Get plenty of bright light, preferably sunlight, during the day. Get outside. Do it in the morning, before lunch and before you get that afternoon slump. 
-Slow down and relax in evenings. No exercise within 3-4 hours of bedtime.
-Darkness at night. Dim lighting in evening. Sleep in complete darkness. Again, mimic nature as much as possible. Avoid the blue light from electronics. Don't turn on lights if you get up during the night. Get dim night lights for bathroom if you must.
-Exercise during the day to very early evening. Not within a few hours of bedtime. But do stretch and try some deep breathing before bed.
-Wear socks to bed. warm feet and hands cause blood vessels to enlarge, allowing more heat to escape your body, which in turn lowers your core temperature faster. 
-Shower or bathe before bed. Also about body temp, but also just plain makes you feel better. 
-Eat dinner early and have only a very small snack of some sleep enhancing food near bedtime. 
-Consume nutrients that boost seratonin production:
---methionine, folate, B12, B6, TMG (betaine), zinc, C, calcium, magnesium and potassium. And of course, the amino acid tryptophanFoods containing tryptophan or melatonin include banana, dairy products, oats, rice, pumpkin/sunflower seeds and any complete protein. Consume some early in the day to produce seratonin.

Magnesium also relaxes muscles and affects the  function of the pineal gland that detects light and dark. A great way to get it is via an epsom salt bath. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfide.The magnesium is absorbed through the skin and the sulfur is healing for skin problems, including acne.

Also try chamomile tea to help you relax in the evenings. And green tea in the daytime.  Green tea is one of the richest sources of L-Theanine which supports the production of GABA which helps you deal with stress.   But because of the caffeine, avoid it in the afternoon and evening.

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