We often reserve the term “Peak Performance” for endurance-related activities, from athletics to cognitive stamina. Particularly in our Western culture, how hard we push, and even how little we rest, has become synonymous with ambition. “Pulling an all-nighter” or “burning the candle at both ends” has become a humble brag in our society, proving that we falsely value the amount of time we spend working rather than the quality of time we spend working. The irony is that even one night of sleep deprivation negatively impacts our performance, not to mention our metabolism, mood, and radiance. Eat Pretty author, Jolene Hart, states it perfectly: “A night of quality sleep is worth a hundred eye creams.” Like Jolene, many of us are waking up to the truth about beauty sleep, evangelizing the importance of regular rest for peak performance.
I’m one of the lucky ones, but only recently discovered just how lucky! On a 4-day women’s detox with my best friend, Denise, during the opening session, each woman in the room shared her intentions for the retreat. Denise and I, both sound sleepers, were in the minority. Almost all of the women voiced their desperation for just a single good night’s rest. In fact, many were satisfied to simply try to get some sleep, indicating that it was consistently difficult to fall and stay asleep through the night. Even in a luxury resort with healthy food, regular massage, and therapeutic acupuncture, sleep evaded many of them. As Denise and I woke up each morning from our slumber, we concluded that we were not the norm. I attribute this to many years in spa and wellness and learning early in my professional life (the most “ambitious” years of my adulthood) that sleep equaled stamina.
Feeling grateful for this fact, I have become a passionate sleep advocate, and I have started to tune into how common it is for others to be sleep-challenged. About 30% of Americans experience bouts of insomnia and 10% struggle with chronic insomnia. This epidemic sparked Arianna Huffington’s Sleep Revolution, “a detailed road map to the great sleep awakening that can help transform our lives, our communities, and our world” and has inspired a whole industry of sleep support tools.
While sleep is essential to our productivity, mood and even to maintaining a healthy weight, waking up to clearer, smoother, healthier complexion is what I call instant gratification. The promise of visibly renewed vitality inspired this month’s theme – Designing your Sleep Ritual. So much more than an evening skincare regimen, your Sleep Ritual should include healthy habit-forming activities that help your body synch with its natural circadian rhythms. This ritual can include intentionally setting a bedtime (and sticking to it!), practicing deep breathing and positive thought, using calming essential oils and lighting aromatherapeutic candles, and creating a cool, dark and quiet space to help lull your body to sleep.
Below are a few more of my favorite ideas from fellow sleep evangelists:
- Jolene Hart, author of Eat Pretty, recommends a small glass of tart cherry juice to increase melatonin production and a handful of protein and tryptophan-rich pumpkin seeds as an evening snack. Yum.
- Kimberly Snyder, NY Times best-selling author offers this recipe from her book, Radical Beauty that deliciously calms the nervous system:
- Pick your pillow like an expert. Slumbr is a sleep wellness company helping you create a comfier bedroom with its Pillow Menu of cozy and supportive pillows. After evaluating 250+ pillow types and testing the comfiest with real sleepers, Slumbr developed its Pillow Quiz to make finding the best pillow for the way you sleep super simple.
- After a warm shower or bath to rinse away the activity of your day, massage Osmia’s Night Body Oil onto sopping wet skin, from legs to collar bones. Allow skin to air dry for 2-3 minutes while you inhale the blend of organic French lavender, sedating Roman chamomile and comforting Moroccan atlas cedarwood that cue the biological processes that relax the autonomic nervous system and prepare the body for rest. For an abbreviated evening ritual, massage 2–3 pumps of Night Body oil over the chest, around the ankles and into the muscles of the neck and shoulders. Cup your hands in front of your face and take 3-6 deep breaths.
- Keep UMA Oils Pure Rest by your bedside and place one drop in between each toe before bedtime. Massage two drops on the bottom of each foot, around the ankles on wrists. This Ayurvedic family formula works wonders with a potent proprietary recipe of sleep-inducing botanicals, a veritable sleep potion in a bottle.
And most importantly, begin to prioritize 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Not just for more glowing, radiant skin, but for a faster metabolism, lower cortisol levels, stronger immune system and sharper mind. Our health (and happiness) depend on the degree to which we are in harmony with our natural cycles of day and night. Make sleep a new metric of success!