By Alexandra Spunt for GOOD
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. Not only does more of it lead to less stress—which means fewer pimples, slower aging, and more hair on your head—the act itself allows our faces a break from wrinkle-forming scowls and smiles.
While our understanding of sleep is limited, we know a few things for certain: It helps us fight free radical damage, which is good news for skin; a slew of studies have also linked sleep deprivation to obesity, possibly due to an increase in hunger hormones, or maybe a decrease in metabolism. (Either way, the less we sleep, the more calories we consume.)
Despite all this, most of us are not getting enough sleep. Many of us log just six hours a night, and some 35 percent of the population reports having trouble sleeping. So, how many hours are you getting a night? If you want more, here’s how:
Exercise. Cardio exercise seems to be a natural cure for insomnia. A recent study indicated that in women over 55, 20 minutes of cardio four times a week could change “poor sleepers” into “good sleepers.” Other perks include more energy during the day, better circulation, a boosted immune system, lower stress, and a firmer body.
Do yoga. Yes, yoga is exercise too, but the focus on breath and relaxation may offer even more stress-reducing benefits to the sleep deprived. We’ve talked about this before, but studies have shown that just 20 minutes of yoga a day can help you fall asleep faster and keep you asleep longer. Meditation—the conscious act of clearing the mind and focusing on the breath—is a proven asset to falling asleep as well.
Take naps. If you can’t log enough Zs at night you may want to try indulging in an afternoon snooze. According to scientists at NIMH and Harvard, napping can reverse information overload and prevent burnout. They also up productivity, which makes us wonder why they aren’t a mandatory part of the workday, kindergarten styles.