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Sleeping Beauty

Our beauty expert, Shadiyah Marshall, shares what actually happens to our skin whilst we sleep, and how to get our skin glowing beautifully!

We all hear about night gels, serums and creams, and how they can work miracles for us over night – Do they really work, and what actually happens to the skin while we sleep? This article will explore the science and cosmetics of being a sleeping beauty!



What happens to your skin when you are sleeping? Science bit first!
Sluggish skin, dark circles and puffy eyes! These are all symptoms of lack of sleep.



Sleep is a sophisticated process that is regulated by the brain – a “natural, temporary loss of consciousness” (Robinson, 1941), which is essential for our bodies to reverse everyday free radical damage through tissue and cell renewal.



Yes I did say ‘essential’, because sleep reduces cortisol, commonly known as the ‘stress hormone’. This hormone is also responsible for skin conditions (discoloration/thinness/scaring), have you noticed that when you’re stressed, you tend to have bad skin? Think of sleep as an antioxidant, fighting bad cells and rebuilding damaged ones, so if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, it will be visible on your face and skin.



Whilst we have a deep siesta, the skin increases its ability to fight both natural (scratches/scars) and environmental damage (sun/pollution). Thus, we will have a fresher and brighter complexion.



Every part of the body knows how to start the process of regeneration. There are two main stages of sleep, catalogued according to eye movement (see table below). The process of regeneration does not start until the second sub-stage of rapid-eye movement sleep, also known as REM sleep.






First stage of REM
A shallow, dream-filled sleep.

There are four sub-stages within REM sleep:
1st sub stage:  Lasts 30 sec – 7mins, during this time the muscles relax & the brain produces irregular wave activity.

2nd sub stage: Lasts 20% of the night’s sleep & where brain waves become larger as the whole body is asleep.

3rd sub stage: Delta-sleep (50% of the night’s sleep), where growth hormones peak & cell/tissue repair take place.

4th sub stage: every 90 mins the brain enters the dream sub-stage where brain wave activity is similar in pattern to being awake, but muscles are not able to move as when awake. This is crucial to preserving mental health and long-term memory, since the brain sorts through short-term memory and ‘deletes’ unimportant data.



Second stage of REM:
The second major stage of sleep is non-REM, where blood pressure drops and heart rate slows as the person enters a deep sleep.


According to Marna Herrington (Skin Care Therapist, USA), the body recharges between 10:00pm and 2:00am. This is a stage of rejuvenation that is not duplicated during the rest of the night. If you are the kind of person that never gets to sleep before midnight, then you are missing out on a big part of natural cell rebuilding. So ladies, you really need to get some z’s at a decent time to get that well needed beauty sleep!


What you can do before sleeping…
Here are some routine tips to assist with the body’s natural rejuvenation process!



Generally speaking, the most important of routines is the night skin care routine. Throughout the day the skin is exposed to different environmental elements within the air (pollution), even wearing make-up. Additionally, the water we use when we perform wudhu/bathe can dry out the skin. This is due to the purification process water suppliers use, generally making it ‘hard’ or high alkaline (above pH9) when it should be at pH7, which is close to the skin’s natural pH level. One recommendation to combat these damages is to cleanse, tone and moisturise before sleeping.



In regards to using certain serums or creams, it really depends on your skin and if you suffer from anything. For example, with very dry skin you may want to put on a hydrating serum which will work well with the natural night-time bodily processes. Similarly, someone with spots may want to apply an exfoliating clay to the affected areas which will work well over night.



If you want just one cream that can be used during the day and night, then opt for a non-SPF lightweight lotion that can be applied with your sunscreen during the day and without at night.



Now you know how to be a real sleeping beauty!





The main difference between day and night creams is:



SPF (sun protection)

Contained in most day creams to prevent sun-damage.

No purpose in adding these extra chemicals to a night cream.


Can cause the skin to look greasy and thick which will not be appropriate to use with make-up.


Ideal as beneficial of replenishing skin at night, oils are absorbed easily.


Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Natural exfoliants which can increase skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.


No sunlight so it’s safe to use at night, assisting with the body’s natural healing processes.


Can be used at low levels with sun protection.


Can be used at higher levels as they have high  healing and renewing properties.





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Shadiyah Marshall is a Psychology graduate and owner of www.sistersbeautique.com.