Skin Sins: Not-Quite Sleeping Beauty

how to be beautiful

In the past, whenever celebrities would claim that a good night's rest was their ultimate beauty secret, I'd not-so-secretly roll my eyes; surely professional makeup paired with grade-A dermatology had something to do with their flawless complexions.

And then I learned my lesson about 'beauty sleep' and why it really is important.

If I sound a little bitter, so what? I’m a night owl by nature and an insomniac by (professional) diagnosis, so sleep has never come easy. In fact, for a long time I mostly avoided it (or got by with less than the bare minimum). I’ll sleep when I’m dead! I’d adamantly protest. I could subsist on a healthy diet and drink my weight in caffeinated beverages!

Here’s the thing: when it’s not just celebrities preaching the importance of sleep, but mom’s harping on it too, you know that Aurora isn’t known as Sleeping Beauty without good reason.

For months at a time I would follow a strict schedule: 6 a.m. wakeup call for classes/work and come home at 2 a.m. from dance rehearsals. I convinced myself this was living life – 21 years young without a worry in sight – and even long after those crazy hours ended, I’d keep up the bad habit of sleepless nights.

I was rewarded with bags. No – not the ones that hang with je ne sais quoi in the crook of your arm, unfortunately – but the ones under your eyes. A little bit of puffiness was normal for me (hereditary, even) but bags? Dark circles? This was a first, and this was just one of many, many consequences that came with horrible sleeping habits.

The worst wasn’t the lack of energy or under-eye bags: my complexion was inexplicably dull and no matter how much I exfoliated or moisturized, there was no glow. I was 21, goshdarnit, where was that youthful radiance magazines go on and on about? My skin was just dull and congested – the worst it had been since I realized dirty makeup brushes and pillowcases were the culprits behind my T-zone congestion. Sure, the Vitamin C Serum got me by, but things just weren’t the same.

Summer came around and I fell back into a (relatively) normal – but definitely healthier – sleeping schedule with at least six to seven hours to my name.

Cue the “Eureka!” moment and flashing neon lights! My skin started to look like it once did, if not better. It almost sounds no-brainer, anticlimactic even, but really: it was as simple as that. If you want to know how to be beautiful (on the outside, anyway), this is it: beauty sleep! If only there had been a fireworks celebration…

With insufficient sleep now scientifically linked to accelerating visible signs of aging as well as weakening the skin’s ability to repair itself, do whatever it is you need to do to get yourself in bed by a specific time. Start winding down after dinner: play soothing music, light a few candles, avoid TV and computers (the screen lights trick our eyes and bodies into thinking it’s still daytime, making it harder to fall asleep), read, write, practice yoga.

Establish a regular nightly routine that programs your body into readying itself for beauty sleep. Follow a specific regimen before snuggling into bed, Holly Golightly eye mask and all. You’ll be drifting off to sleep before you know it (and trust: if it works for me, it’ll work for you too). I’m partial to reading through a (dusty) stack on my bedside table, lighting a few candles, and winding down with a mask with Michael Buble playing in the background. And yes, I do have an eye mask, and yes, it makes a world of a difference in the quality of my sleep.

The moral of the story? Beauty sleep is a real thing: if not for your overall health (it’s a main player in metabolism), then get your 8-10 hours of shut-eye for vanity’s sake…

I guess moms do know best. (And apparently Disney does too.)

. . .

Read all about my skin sins here, here and here. It’s all about living and learning, right?

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